Book Name: What’s In A Name?
Author Name: Pat Henshaw
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyD
Blurb:Barista Jimmy Patterson thinks it's a good idea to get rip-roaring drunk on his birthday after he’s dumped by his boyfriend. When the burly owner of Stonewall’s Bar rescues Jimmy, the night starts to look up.
Now Jimmy just wants to know the bartender's first name since he's worn a different name tag every time Jimmy's seen him. "Guy" Stone gives Jimmy seven guesses, one for each night he takes Jimmy out on a date.
While Jimmy’s trying to come up with his name, he's distracted by the destruction of his coffee shop and what looks more and more like a hate crime.
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance
Stonewall [Saloon] was chaos when I got there. Guy and another bartender were mixing drinks as fast as they could. I squeezed in at the end of the bar near the hatchway and sat on an abandoned stool there.
I didn’t think Guy had seen me come in, so when there was a lull in the frenetic pace and he was nearly within arm’s reach, I called out, “What’s a guy gotta do to get a drink in this place?”
Guy looked up, grinned at me, and yelled back, “Fuck the bartender.”
A slim man sitting next to me perked up, gave Guy the once-over, and yelled, “Okay!”
Guy’s startled gaze met mine, and we broke out laughing.
The man next to me sighed and slumped over his beer. “I knew it was too good to be true,” he mumbled.
I patted him on the shoulder.
“Maybe next time,” I commiserated with him.
“Right,” he answered glumly.
Falling in love in your 30s, I'm here to tell you, is the shits. Take it from me. You're rolling along, minding your own business--in my case as the working owner of Stonewall Saloon--and then wham! You think you're immune, especially since you see so many crap-ass guys doing stupid shit every night. Maybe it's the bar. Who knows? I never thought good guys went to bars a lot until I met Jimmy.
Along about November a year or so ago, Jimmy Patterson and his stupid as fuck boyfriend started dropping by Stonewall three, four times a week around 8 or 9 and staying sometimes until closing, but mostly for a couple, three hours.
The boyfriend, this asshole named Alex, would parade in wearing whatever passed as the latest style and park Jimmy on a stool at the bar.
Now, see, Jimmy's the real friendly type. Shoot, he was even nice to Gus, a regular left over from when my Grandpa was owner and bartender. Gus can't see or hear too well now and for some reason gets on the nerves of my younger customers all the time. Mostly because you gotta yell and repeat what you say to him about a million times. And then he still doesn't get what you said.
Jimmy never blinked an eye at Gus. Just treated him like all the other guys who sat down next to him to bullshit.
"Good boy, that Jimmy," Gus'd tell me over and over when Jimmy and Dickhead came in.
I had to agree. During slow periods, Jimmy and I'd talk about all sorts of things. He wanted to open a coffee shop in Old Town, around where Stonewall is, and asked me questions about places along the strip. We even talked quarterlies during tax time and shit like that.
There's a few queer-run places now the big city guys have discovered us, and Jimmy wanted to know how they got along. Yeah, sure, there's some resistance from blowhards like Tommy Thompson and a few others, but mostly we're a live and let live kinda place.
At Christmas we laughed about some of the stupid ass holiday decorations along Main Street. Jimmy'd even asked if I was going to decorate. My answer? Blow me. For a minute it looked like he considered it.
The more we talked, the more lost I was. Got to the point I told one of the other bartenders to come get me if I was in the back when Jimmy came in. Go figure. Never done that in my life.
In the meantime, every time they were here, Dickhead the boyfriend was making the rounds. I caught him a few times sucking cock in the back. Made me so mad I nearly hit him up one side and down the other. I didn't though cuz I didn't want Jimmy to stop coming in.
It bothered me though. You know, one of those moral dilemmas. Should I tell Jimmy or not? So I started asking around.
Didn't help when I learned Jimmy'd moved into a condo with the Dickhead. What kind of friend tells a guy his boyfriend's a scumbag? On the other hand, what kind of friend keeps the news to himself? Moral dilemma, like I said.
Okay, so we're coming up to Jimmy's birthday, which I know because after I had another bartender card him, I wrote the date down. I decide to give the Dickhead one more chance. See if he could man up on the big night. I knew a bunch of Jimmy's friends were gonna throw him a party at Stonewall, you know try to get him drunk, all the regular crap. So I'd better be seeing Dickhead stand up and act right.
By that point, I've already been smacked around by Jimmy-love and am ready to beat down walls to make him happy on his big day. He's never gonna see his 20s again and he's feeling the pain. At least that's what he's said. I just want the guy to be happy, real happy.
What happened? Well, yeah, you gotta read Jimmy's side of the story. I mean, don't listen to me. I can't tell a story about love. Shit, I can barely tell a clean joke. Just listen to Jimmy. He's got it covered.
Buying the Book:
On his birthday Jimmy's boyfriend, Alex takes him to the local bar and proceeds to leave with another guy. Jimmy gets smashed and ends up being taken home by the bartender. Alex/Alex2/A2, later Big Guy/BG/Guy.. We don't know his name. He won't tell anyone. (When I got to the end, yeah.. I wouldn't have told anyone either)
After a ride on Guy's bike, Jimmy says he wants to get a bike, so Jimmy and Guy enter into a little competition where he gives Jimmy 7 guesses, one every day for a week, to guess his name. If Jimmy guesses correctly, Guy will buy him a Motorbike and teach him to ride. Everyday he guesses wrong, Guy gets a kiss.
This book moved at warp speed. Jimmy is dumped by his bf. Jimmy goes home with Guy and they have sex the next morning. When Jimmy goes to pack his stuff the next morning (after said sex with Guy) he is upset and tearful. Well he couldn't have been too damned upset since he and Guy are boyfriends 3 days later!!
I try to find the good in every book. This book was light, fluffy, funny, yet suspenseful at times. But this wasn't for me. I didn't connect with the characters and I found they had very little chemistry. For such a romance there was no heat or passion between them. You don't have to have graphic sex or even describe a kiss to feel passion between two characters, and I felt none with Jimmy and Guy.
It wasn't a badly written book and I will give this author another chance. I just didn't connect with these characters.
About the Author:
Born in the Heartland of Nebraska, Pat Henshaw has made America hers by living in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California. She has found joy in visiting Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and relishes trips to Rome, Italy, and Eugene, Oregon, to see family.
Pat has spent her life surrounded by words: Teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.
Two of her fondest memories are touching time when she put her hands on the pyramids and experiencing pure whimsy when she interviewed Caroll Spinney (Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch). Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion. Her supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away writing fiction.
Finding Pat around the Web:
What is for you the perfect book hero?Is there a perfect book hero? I can't even imagine. I think we read books to sample the different kinds of people we don't meet in real life. Some of my favorite literary heroes--take Rochester from Jane Eyre--I'd never want to meet in real life. So can he be the perfect hero? That's the wonderful thing about romance to me. I get to meet all sorts of heroes without having to take them home in real life.
Also, I don't want my characters to be "perfect" but to be real people, people that ordinary readers can identify with. Part of my message is that even if you're not the most handsome, built man, you can find love.
Do you pay attention to literary criticism?Yes and no. I'm pretty secure as a writer, so I like to read what critics say. Also, I was a fiction reviewer for All About Romance, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, The Romance Reviews, and three newspapers, so I know that criticism is very subjective. Do I take what critics say seriously? Not really. I know they're all just trying to put their reactions down as honestly as they can
When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head or is it built progressively?Usually I have a character and a situation in mind. As I write, the main character's story unfolds.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?Yes, my message in this novella is we are more than our outer trappings--our names, our appearance, our manner. We are what is inside us, inside our hearts. While sex is all good and fine (duh!), it takes more than sexual compatibility to make a relationship last. A sense of humor helps as does a committment to the other person.
Can you share something about your works in progress?I've submitted the sequel to What's in a Name?, a novella called Redesigning Max about Jimmy's good friend, Fredi Zimmer and the outdoor sports store owner Max who just needs a little courage to make his move. I'm currently writing The Behr Facts, the third in the novella series, about the construction company that's mentioned in the previous books. I have an idea about a fourth book, but I'm caught up in the Behr story first.
Also, I'm writing the sequel to The Vampire's Food Chain, called Devil's Food in which the protagonist, a vampire named Shawn, must visit hell and make a difference there. Finding hell is the challenge at the moment. It's spread across so many places!
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