Renowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene’s Outdoors, hires him to revamp Max’s rustic cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Fredi is an out-and-proud Metro male whose contact with the outdoors is from his car to the doorway of the million-dollar homes he remodels, and to Fredi, Max is a typical straight man’s man.
When Max blatantly and clumsily flirts with Fredi, Fredi’s stereotypical view of Max is shattered. Is this a build-up to a gay bashing? Cautiously believing Max is closeted and is trying to come out, Fredi decides he’s game to put a little spice into Max’s life, whether it’s in the colors and fixtures he’ll use to turn Max’s dilapidated cabin into a showplace or over one of the many lunches and dinners they share talking about the remodel. Who can blame a guy for adding a little sensual pleasure as he retools Max’s life visually? Besides, Fredi has a backup plan if he’s wrong about Max’s intentions.
Life would be all wine and roses if it weren’t for Max’s former friends and their conservative families. Alarmed with Max’s obvious infatuation, they make it their business to save him from sliding into hell.
With the battle on, will Fredi and Max win the fight for a life of happiness together?
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About the Series
During the recession at the beginning of the 21st century, many gays and lesbians moved from the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento to the Sierra Foothills. FLAG (Foothills Lesbians and Gays) was formed. This series was written for them.
Other Books in the Series:
What’s In a Name | Redesigning Max | Behr Facts | When Adam Fell
Pat is giving away a $10 JMS Books gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter:
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We’d met again for lunch, this time at Monique’s Bakery and Café, one of the places I loved and had to hold myself back from. As I often told friends, I could gain ten pounds just walking by the cafe and taking a deep breath.
While I craved Monique’s baked goods, I twitched every time I stepped into the place. It sat at the end of a tiny group of stores built during the 1980s. Someone had told me the bakery and cafe had originally been a pharmacy with a tiny soda counter. Gradually the soda counter had expanded into a cafe and the pharmacy was pushed out. Unfortunately, Monique’s retained every one of the tables and chairs from its origins. I itched to redecorate.
Since it was a brilliantly beautiful day, we were sitting on the patio—a space cordoned off from the scraggly bushes and trees of the back lot by a line of wrought iron grillwork—with spiced iced tea and apple cinnamon bread in front of us. God, the food here was orgasmic. I picked up a piece of bread and smelled it before slathering it with butter.
My body shook slightly as I took a bite. “To die for,” I murmured after washing the bite down with tea. “You really should smell it before you take a bite. Go ahead. Smell. Smell. It makes the bread taste so much better.”
Again, the natives seemed to be covertly watching us. It was unnerving being the center of attention like this.
Max picked up a piece of bread as if trying to lift it without actually touching it. He brought it to his nose slowly and took a tiny sniff.
“No, no, no. Pick it up like this,” I chided. I held up another piece between my fingers and thrust it toward Max as he put his piece down on his plate. I shoved the bread under his nose. “Now take a deep breath. Close your eyes if you want.”
I watched Max close his eyes and exhale, ready to take a real smell of the bread. I hoped my body mist didn’t get in the way. I was used to it, so I had no problem smelling the bread around the musk and old rose. Would it distract Max from getting the aroma of Granny Smith apples and cinnamon, almost like apple pie, but different with the flour and other ingredients?
Max was lovely, so macho-man and lost-little-boy encased in a fuckable body. When I was with him, I had to keep reminding myself he wasn’t gay. If there were a gay pill, I wouldn’t even hesitate to slip it into his iced tea.
As Max took a smell of the bread, I laughed at myself. Lusting over a straight man. What was wrong with me? Had I learned nothing in my nearly thirty years on Earth? Dear God, was I ever pathetic.
Max taking a tiny bite of the bread snapped me out of my thoughts. Max chewed. Then his tongue stole out and lapped up the crumbs sticking to my fingers. Without thinking, I thrust the last pieces of the bread toward Max’s mouth and his lips rounded over my fingers.
The world seemed to stop around us. Even the other diners seemed to pause.
We looked at each other in surprise. Slowly Max pulled back against his chair, his eyes boring into mine, his face red-hot. Just as slowly, I lowered my hand to the table. I couldn’t think. I, Frederick Zimmer, for the first time in my life, was stunned silent.
“How you boys doing over here?” the drive-by waitress asked. She plopped our meals in front of us and then looked each of us in the face, smirked, shook her head, and muttered, “All righty, then. All good at this table.”
I blinked. The world around us came slowly back into view.
Designer Fredi and adventure guide Max go to lunch right after they meet:
By the time we got to the Rock Bottom Cafe, I felt like I’d bottomed out. I was hungry, tired, and feeling the first twinges of a headache.
Max hadn’t exaggerated about how much I’d hate the Rock Bottom’s decor. It was the worst of rural cafe: hellacious plastic flowers, grotesque plastic-covered booths, peeling gangrene-painted beadboard walls, pockmarked linoleum floor, and faded food-stained menus. It made the cabin look almost palatial, except it didn’t smell as bad.
As Max slid into one side of a booth and I into the other, he said, “Food’s great here. Okay?”
I glared at him, but I had to admit the odors coming from the kitchen wove seductively around us.
After we’d ordered and had gotten glasses of iced tea, which I liberally dosed with artificial sweetener, Max leaned back in his side of the booth and blew out a little breath.
“So guess here’s what you need to know about me.” He was looking at the tabletop. “I was an only kid when my folks died. Raised by my aunt and uncle with their four boys. I was the youngest and nobody cared what I thought, so I don’t talk much.”
Oh dear. I wasn’t sure which of those statements I should answer, if any. My heart bled for the beautiful man in front of me who would give me a raging hard-on if I let my libido take control.
His words and lack of self-pity made me want to create a unique space where he’d feel completely at home and that would soothe him when he needed it. I probably wouldn’t end up his BFF or someone he could unbend with, but I could create a warm cocoon to shelter and coddle the man or let him entertain his friends comfortably.
The image of the young Max feeling like an outsider when he was thrust on his uncaring aunt and uncle to raise was banished by the waitress who put lunch in front of us.
“Oh. My. God!” I nearly drooled into the chili and homemade bread as I tasted them. “This is incredible.”
“What’d I tell you?” Max gloated. “Said you shouldn’t be put off by the decor. Some of us are more than our decor.”
I spooned up a couple of bites, then looked at Max. “You really do think I’m a snob, don’t you?”
Why was it so easy to get him to blush? I hadn’t a clue, but his quick, mercurial red cheeks had me intrigued.
“No, no, I don’t think you’re a snob,” he protested. “I mean, you’re just so….” He waved a couple of fingers at me, but kept his elbows on the table as if protecting his bowl of chili.
“I’m so what?”
Max shrugged. “I don’t know. Beautiful. And fancy,” he added, ducking his head over his bowl.
Ah, I understood now. Max was intimidated by my suit.
“Look, you came to get me in the coffee shop. I was dressed to take a rich lady through her house later this afternoon. I can work in jeans and a T-shirt”—did Max think I wore suits every day?—“or anything I want. Pajamas even. You just caught me on a suit day.” Which, I didn’t add, was too often for even my overblown sense of style.
Now Max was staring at me.
“Yeah, right. You wear jeans,” he scoffed, but looked interested, intrigued.
I shrugged. “Okay, not when I’m with a client. At home I’m way more casual.” I might have sounded a tad defensive.
“Yeah, right,” Max muttered with a grin.
I left it lying there. It wasn’t worth fighting about. But it bothered me that he saw such a divide between us. I was just a man, wasn’t I? Just like him, right? What was he going on about? Sheesh.
This was a delightful story! It was sweet and both characters fit well together despite being so different.
Max was my favorite of the two. He’s not exactly in the closet, but he’s never advertised that he’s gay or act up on it until he meets Fredi, who is as out and proud as can be. Because of that he has to prove not only to Fredi but to others that he’s indeed gay. He’s the big, strong, silent type, just the perfect counterpoint to Fredi, who is just the opposite.
Fredi might be smaller in size compared with Max, but he’s no wimp, and is used to fighting for what he wants and against anyone who might be wanting to bash him for being gay.
They have to fight against several people that aren’t all that happy of them being together, but they have a fantastic set of friends backing them up, and I really liked that. I enjoyed the coincidences that showed just how perfect Max and Fredi were for each other, like Max’s cabin and other little tidbits that gave depth to what they found together.
I enjoyed the story a lot, it was a series of tender little moments as both Max and Fredi learn to know each other and fall in love, although I would have loved to see more of them together as a couple, like maybe having them kiss or make love in a more descriptive manner, rather than just being told it happened. Other than that, it was a pretty good, enjoyable read.
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn’t a requirement. ***
Pat Henshaw, born and raised in Nebraska, has lived on the U S’s three coasts, in Texas, Virginia, and now California. Before she retired, she held a number of jobs, including theatrical costumer, newspaper features reporter and movie reviewer, librarian, junior college English instructor, and publicist. She also loves to travel and has visited Canada, Mexico, Europe, Egypt, and Central America as well as almost all fifty US states.
Now retired, she enjoys reading and writing as well as visiting her older daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren on the East Coast and playing havoc with her younger daughter’s life in NorCal. She thanks you for reading her books and wants you to remember that every day is a good day for romance.
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