Title: Redesigning Max (Foothills Pride #2)
Author: Pat Henshaw
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC
Release Date: July 29th 2015
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary
Page Count: 98 Pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.2 stars out of 5
A Foothills Pride Story
Renowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene’s Outdoors, hires Fredi to revamp his 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 Max is just too hunky for words.
When Max comes on to Fredi, the designer can’t imagine why. But he’s game to put a little spice into Max’s life, even if it’s just in the colors and fixtures he’ll use to turn Max’s dilapidated cabin into a showplace. Who can blame a guy for adding a little sensual pleasure as he retools Max’s life visually?
Max, for his part, is grateful when Fredi takes him in hand, both metaphorically and literally. Coming out is the most exciting and wonderful time in his life, despite the conservative former friends who think they’re saving him from sliding into hell.
I laughed, I gasped, I thrilled, I rolled my eyes! After an initial not-so-great beginning, I really got into and just plain enjoyed this short story.
I absolutely loved that Fredi, who seems like a foppish twink at first, is actually a BAMF who carries a blade and isn’t afraid to use it to defend himself from homophobic assholes. Unfortunately this is a result of a pretty messed up and tragic past. However, learning about his past only made me like the character more.
I liked how honest and earnest Max is when explaining to Fredi about never being with a man before.
“Long story short. I’m gay. I’m attracted to you, but I’ve never done this before. I’ve got no clue what to do. Not one damn clue. Do I ask you out? Where do we go? What do we do? It’s like I’m in junior high again. So far all I seem to do is piss you off. I’m sure I look like the biggest ass in the world. I just…” He stopped and sighed. “I just want you to like me as much as I do you. Only I don’t know how.”
It was sweet that though Fredi and Max seem like polar opposites at first, they go on to find out they have actually tons in common. Even better, this isn’t an “insta-love” – they actually get to know each other, date, and spend time together for months, before they ever get to the I Love You’s.
As the days and weeks followed, our courtship and the house remodel seemed to be on identical tracks. Little glitches and minor arguments flared up seemingly on the same days, but mostly the courtship and the remodel followed the lines I’d mapped out.
We had meals together and got to know each other. We talked about the mountains, the forest, the animals, and the birds. He told me about rafting and camping trips. I talked about houses I’d designed and offices I’d redesigned. We shared our triumphs and our woes.
It’s very sweet, if completely implausible, that everything bringing them together is like they’re fated to be together.
~ Without knowing it Max built his home using a design Fredi had made while in graduate school for a design contest.
~ Fredi is a major fan for years of author Stanley M. Greene and his series Greene’s Guides to Sierra Birds in all its various forms and editions, and then finds out Max is Stanley M. Greene.
~ Max takes Fredi into the city, and while there Max takes him to a gallery so Fredi can approve a painting Max really wants to buy for the house…and it turns out it’s Fredi’s work.
There were some really funny moments, including the scene when Max takes Fredi to see the cabin the first time…I laughed so hard I nearly choked.
The cabin was in worse shape than I’d imagined. The wooden planks of the porch and stairs leading to the front door were cracked and looked unsafe, so I again gingerly stepped around the buckled, uneven surface, hoping I wouldn’t break a leg in the process.
Max had trouble opening the front door and finally resorted to giving the warped wood a grunt-inducing shove.
Inside, it was as if a pack of mountain lions had lived there and brought their prey inside to devour. The stench as Max opened the door nearly knocked me off my feet.
“Uh, it’s always, um, smelled like this.” Max shrugged and hung his head. “Tried everything I can think of to get rid of it.” Another shrug.
Oh. My. God. I’d stepped into a charnel house. I got out my hanky and pressed it to my nose. I’d have to have the Behr brothers come in and do a structural evaluation. There had to be termites, rodents, and other creepy-crawlies, right?
The HEA is a little over the top, but it fits with the characters and the story.
My biggest complaint is there was no on page sex, which was a major disappointment for me after the build-up between Fredi and Max.
All in all it’s a sweet and humorous short story that manages to break out of a cookie cutter mold and even pack a few unexpected punches along the way.