Join Prism Book Alliance® as Pat Henshaw goes Outside the Margins today.
As you know if you follow this site, Brandilyn, after a difficult personal year, is pulling the plug on Prism at the end of the month. It’s the right thing to do for her. And I wish her all the luck in the world for her new venture.
But at the same time, I’m shedding tears because Prism was such a wonderful place to get recommendations for new books to read and for new authors to get recognition. The reviewers here are even-handed and reliable in giving their opinions on books, so Prism will leave a hole in the review lists when it’s gone.
You’ll be missed, Brandilyn!
With the clearing of the weather, my headaches have retreated, and I feel like myself again. Hallelujah is all I can say.
My miniatures time will be cut short for the next few months as I work on a new writing project and setting up my new website, www.pathenshaw.com. The site is a big step for me while the project is one I’m particularly excited about. I just hope readers will be too.
Two quirky, yet satisfying gay romance books hooked me this month. One from an author who’s an old favorite and one from a new author.
Imago by N. R. Walker follows the incredible love story matching an up-tight, bow tie-wearing lepidopterist (butterfly expert) and a hulky parks and wildlife ranger in Tasmania. Yup, that’s right. You might want to read that sentence again just to make sure you got it right.
I absolutely love Walker’s writing because she mixes her romances with a bright dollop of humor so that readers are left with a smile on their faces not just from the HEA but also from some of the incredibly hilarious situations and dialog that occur along the way. I’ve had to clean off my Kindle screen a number of times when something I’ve read makes me explode with laughter. Be warned. Oh, yes, and enjoy!
Clean Slate by Heidi Champa pairs a seemingly irresponsible, commitment shy man and a single father who’s nearly ready to come out of the closet. Since our hero, who’s run away from his last relationship, is a professional cleaner, he’s the perfect person to straighten out the other’s life. Along the way, he becomes attached to the single father and panics. I enjoyed reading Champa’s handling of a character who isn’t immediately sympathetic and seeing how his broken life is mended by love. This one isn’t for every reader but will enchant those willing to take a chance on a new writer’s quirky vision.
At the beginning of March, my daughter Becca and I traveled to Orlando FL for the Dreamspinner Press author retreat. This is my favorite event of the year and one I’d hate to miss. Not only do authors learn the state of the publishing business and Dreamspinner’s part of it, but we take a few minutes away from our writing desks to look around us. It’s not unlike Groundhog Day without the forecast part.
This year is Dreamspinner’s 10th anniversary, a milestone enviable to other small publishers. I was humbled to get to sit and talk with seasoned authors like Rick R. Reed and Jamie Fessenden as well as newer writers like J. Scott Coatsworth, Robert Winter, and C. L. Etta. It’s comforting to know that I have a seat at their table.
Finally, watch for news about the Foothills Pride series in the months to come. In the meantime, be entertained by Zeke Bandy, hotel proprietor and country music entertainer, and his journey toward a happily ever after with broker Vic Longbow in Relative Best.
At this point, I would say “until next time,” but since there’s no next time here, instead I’ll say, “Until we meet again, take care, be healthy, and read on!”
Title: Relative Best
Author: Pat Henshaw
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: 08/17/2016
Cover Artist: Angsty G
Genre: Gay Romance
A Foothills Pride Story
Sometimes love sneaks up when you’re least looking for it….
Zeke Bandy, owner of Bandy’s Finest Hotel in Old Town Stone Acres, California, is too busy for love. Not only does he oversee the operations of the historic hotel and uphold his family’s tradition of offering refuge to strays and runaways, Zeke also sings and plays down-home music two nights a week at the Stonewall Saloon and for occasional celebrations. Then Zeke meets Victor Longbow, the man of his dreams.
Vic isn’t looking for love either. In fact, because of his upbringing in a strict, white foster family, Vic’s not sure he believes in love. He’s in Stone Acres to open a branch office of a national brokerage firm. He’s also hoping to find a vintage photo of what might be his Native American ancestor.
After their paths cross, they become friends, then more. Connected by their experiences as orphans raised by flawed fathers, Zeke and Vic realize that some men must find love, hone it, and create families for themselves.
By noon my energy level was running down, which didn’t bode well for the rest of the day and especially for tonight, my regular Thursday-night gig. When I’d been in my teens, I’d been grateful Stone had given me the two nights to blow off some steam and have some fun on stage.
In school, I’d lusted after Stone, but he’d never been anything but friendly and kind to me. Although he’d had quite a few boyfriends through the years, I’d never been one of them. Because I was five or six years younger, I think he’d always seen me as a younger brother at best or a pest at worse. Maybe they were the same things.
I bumped into Vic in the foyer. He invited me to lunch on the condition that I’d get us there and back. I agreed since I was starving and I could practice flirting with him. Two birds for the price of one stone.
“Let’s see. Would you consider this a date?” I teased.
“Oh yeah, since I’m taking you to dinner tonight.”
“You are?” I didn’t know whether he was teasing or serious.
“Yup. We’re going to the Silver Star, where I’ve heard we’ll get a four-star meal.”
“Oh. Yeah? Okay.” I was stunned and flustered. I’d never eaten at Stone Acres’ four-star restaurant. Was this really happening to me? Where could I take him that would impress him? “Let me take you to the best restaurant around.” I grabbed the keys to my truck from the board behind him.
“Better than the gourmet place everyone’s been telling me about?” He sounded skeptical.
“Oh yeah. Best American diner food in the area. Best you could ever eat.” I stepped out the back door and led him to where the truck was parked. “Unless you don’t eat American food.”
“What do you mean? Are you saying something about me looking like a Navajo?”
He didn’t sound particularly angry or even upset. All he looked was gorgeous and way out of my experience.
“Naw. I was implying that you might be a New Age vegetarian who didn’t believe in things like bacon or sausage or biscuits and gravy.” I got in and slammed my door.
“Lead on. I can eat a skinny guy like you under the table.”
Even though I thought I heard seduction underneath his flirting before, we seemed to have stepped onto the buddy platform now. In a way I felt relieved. Buddies, I could do.
He’d stopped walking and was staring at the truck. “This thing works?”
“You kidding? Things don’t need to be beautiful to work just fine.” Take me, for example, maybe not a gem, but all parts were working great, thank you.
My 1972 Ford pickup with its beat-up sides and jutting bed looked a little like it was sniffing the ground, trying to figure out if Vic was friend or foe. The chassis might look like it had led a hard life—which it had—but the engine was in top-notch shape. Del at the Old Town Garage kept it in pristine condition, mostly because he said he was going to buy it from me someday and give it a facelift.
I drove us to the Rock Bottom Cafe, a roadside diner run by a couple of friends. This would be a true test of how compatible we were. If he hated the Bottom, then he hated me, and we had no future even as friends.
Lorraine Culpepper, the Rock Bottom’s co-owner and often the only waitstaff, greeted me like she hadn’t just seen me a few days before. She batted her eyes at Vic, then sat us at the front window so we could see and be seen.
“You come here often?” Vic was studying his menu as if it had the answers to the Rosetta stone.
“Often enough. I went to the same school as Bud and Lorraine, the owners. This is a pretty tiny community. We’ve all known each other a long time and know just about everything there is to know.” I shrugged, throwing the realities of small-town life on him. As I watched people come and go, I realized I knew everyone so far, every single one of them. A couple of guys nodded, and one even said, “Nice set last night,” before he paid and left.
“So what can I get you boys?” Only four or five years older than me, Lorraine always acted like she was my mother or favorite aunt. She’d even watched over me a bit while we were in school. I never could figure it out.
We both ordered iced tea, and after he’d read over the menu, Vic settled on the same brisket sandwich and fries that were my favorites. Lorraine smirked at our identical orders and then sashayed back to the kitchen to give them to Bud.
“Can we talk about the hotel and the pictures and journals?” Vic leaned in toward me, ignoring the window and the view of Bud’s new parking lot and the people coming and going.
“Sure. What do you want to know?”
“Everything.” If he’d been a squirrel, Vic would be sitting up and begging. “History first.”
He looked so cute, I blushed when I realized he was sitting with me and staring as if I were wonderful.
“Okay, let’s see.” I took a deep breath. The hotel’s history? A piece of cake. I’d told the hotel’s history countless times before. “In 1843, the Army built a fort where Stone Acres stands. Its job was to shelter pioneers and homesteaders who’d come through the pass from Nevada. Fort Murdock’s walls were made up of two structures—the hotel and a prison. Colonel Ebden Pilcher, the commanding officer, was a godly man who saw the fort more as a protector from the elements and supplier of goods and services than a military base.” Once I got into guide mode, it was hard to stop me.
“The fort became a refuge for anyone suffering abuse, including women, children, Native Americans, anyone who needed asylum. Pilcher also saw it as an outpost for artists, naturalists, explorers, and others to share their stories and craft their art. He and his wife, Anna, loved actors, dancers, and musicians and hosted both formal and informal productions, inviting their Native American neighbors to the entertainments.”
“Sounds like a pretty enlightened guy.” Vic had been staring at me as I talked. I couldn’t tell if it was me or Colonel Pilcher who’d enraptured him. I wanted to believe it was me.
“Yeah. Very enlightened.” I leaned in because I was sharing a part of history very few people knew. “And very gay.”
I waited for his reaction. I hadn’t told many others this about old Ebden, but I figured Vic would appreciate knowing the colonel’s secret.
“Pilcher was gay? How do you know?” He was as breathless as the others I’d told. Greg, Jax, Raynetta, Justine, and even Sheriff Campbell had all been gobsmacked to learn of the revered Colonel Pilcher’s orientation.
“In the piles of pictures, journals, notes, and letters that were left in the attic and the basement when I took over, old Ebden had left his story. His ‘wife’ had once been a guy named Andrew Smith who came to the fort from St. Louis dressed as a woman named Anna. Ebden wrote that they had met in Missouri and had been married there.”
Lorraine was hurrying over to us, so I stopped that part of the story while she served us and got us refills on our tea. After we assured her we’d be fine and she left, I continued.
“They lived together for twenty-four years at the fort until Anna came down with influenza and died.”
“But how do you know Anna was a man?”
“By the two nude studies an artist painted of her. They were small, neither larger than wallet-sized, but both of them are very worn, as if Ebden always carried them around with him. And both are very explicit. Not many women have large erect penises and no breasts.”
About Pat Henshaw
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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