A big welcome to Pat Henshaw as part of her blog tour with Gay Book Promotions for Short Order from Dreamspinner Press.
Waiting for the Results to Come in
When I was a child, my father learned to fly using the G. I. bill to pay for the lessons. On the weekends, he would bundle me, my brother, and my twin sisters into a four-seater Cessna and put in his flying hours. While my younger siblings would vomit and groan in the back seat, my father and I bonded.
Years later, my father ran for the local Airport Authority Board which was in the middle of debating what the regional airport should look like and what types of aircraft should be allowed to land and take off from there. Since it was an elected position, my dad had to wage a campaign.
Of course, my family pitched in. My brother and I passed out flyers at the local grocery store, telling everyone, “Please vote for our dad.” We made cold calls to voters on election day, again with the message to vote for our dad.
He ran for the position—and won—a number of times, and every time we hosted an election night party at our house with grownups drinking and tallying the results as they were announced on TV.
As a child, I went to bed hours before the final count was released. I even slept through the victory yells in the wee hours of the morning, so it wasn’t until the next day that I would find out if my dad had won or not.
What does any of this have to do with me as a writer of contemporary gay romance?
Well, I don’t know about other authors, but I’m always anxious when I write a new book, submit it, have it accepted, and face publication day. All the work and preparation of getting the book ready as well as the publicity and making readers aware that the book exists are akin to the days before the election.
Then, like my father, I wait to see what the reactions of reviewers and readers will be. Unlike my father, however, I don’t have a release day party or celebrate in any way. I merely read the reviews and see if anyone was entertained by the book. I read the reviews and comments to see if anyone got the point of the story.
As authors, most of us say publicly that we don’t read or internalize reviews. Occasionally, an author will write an angry burst on Facebook or in a personal blog, ranting about how a reviewer has trashed his or her career. But those of us who write recognize the author’s true feelings of disappointment that someone he or she respected didn’t care for the new book.
When the reviews and comments are wonderful and the negative comments amount to “I never wanted this book to end,” then I, like everyone else, rejoice. Deep in our hearts, we all want to be liked, right?
So when the evening of December 19, 2017, arrives, you can bet that I’ll be nervously awaiting the election results of December 20, when Short Order releases. It’s the last Foothills Pride book, which means it will be the last election for this series.
I would say to “Vote early and vote often,” but we all know that’s foolishness. Like every author who’s ever written a book, I hope you enjoy Short Order. That’s what being an author is really all about.
Title: Short Order
Series: Foothills Pride #8
Author: Pat Henshaw
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication date: December 13, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance
Cover Design: AngstyG
Length: 28,400 words/89 pages
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When recent horticulture graduate Dr. Fenton Miller arrives in Stone Acres, California, he thinks his only concern is which job offer to accept after spending the holidays working at his cousin’s plant nursery. But after he rents a room from another shorter-than-average man, sous-chef John Barton, Fen falls in lust.
While he’s attracted to Fen, John’s got bigger concerns when two men from his past arrive in town and pressure him to return to San Francisco. Although John tries to stop Fen from getting involved, Fen realizes his lover is in trouble and is determined to protect him.
As the holidays get closer and Fen makes his own enemy, the joy of the season gets lost in the ill will around them. To ensure love triumphs, Fen and John must stand tall to show that short, dark, and handsome is a recipe for love.
That night I stood freezing at Barton’s door, admiring Blue Cottage. The snow drifts piled on the lawn made the house look greeting-card perfect. I searched for a doorbell. Instead, a lion-headed knocker snarled at me. I grinned. Every house needed an intimidating guardian, right?
A man who looked about my age and height opened the door and slipped out, shutting it behind him. I was curious to see inside, but I got that the guy wanted his privacy. No problem.
“Hi. I’m Fen.”
He looked me over, then turned to the left along the shoveled porch. As he walked, he played with the keyring, bouncing a key in his hand. Did I make him nervous? If so, was that a good thing?
Okay. I took a breath and followed his pert ass and brisk steps as we rounded the porch to a steep staircase. From my brief glance at his face, he seemed okay. I was still slightly put off by his brusque manner. But hey, I reminded myself, I was renting from him, not fucking him.
In silence I followed him up to a small porch and a solid-looking back door, which he opened after only a little fumbling.
I was greeted by the stuffy, closed-up odor of a place long left undisturbed.
“You’d be my first renter. It’s furnished, but I can store anything you don’t want.” He made quick eye contact with me. The words erupted from him like I made him uncomfortable or something. Maybe it was my piercing and the tattoo, or maybe the hair color. I tried a smile, but he blushed and turned away, gesturing to the rooms.
Even though the air inside was chilly, I looked around and fell even more in love than I had when I’d first seen the house. The 1940s era furniture and knickknacks turned what could have been sterile rooms into my kind of home. I exhaled, letting the ambience settle in my soul as I wandered through a country kitchen, tiny dining room, sitting room, two bedrooms, and a classic bathroom, ending eventually at a circular tower room. I fell even deeper in love along the way as I touched the scratched kitchen table, a velveteen-covered parlor settee, a solid-looking four-poster bed, and the needlepoint-cushioned window seat in the tower.
If I were Barton, I’d charge thousands a month for this place. I prayed he wasn’t me and was relieved when my prayers were answered.
“You want to keep the furniture?” He still didn’t look at me as he bent over the kitchen table to fill out the rental agreement. Who needed him staring? I could live with letting his voice pour over me and seeing his kissable lips.
“I can’t imagine living here without all of it.” Or maybe even you, I thought, eyeing his pert butt wiggling at me as he wrote.
He stopped, stood, and eyed me for a few seconds before bending and going back to writing. I hadn’t said that about his butt out loud, had I?
As I was daydreaming about his ass and the scarred table, he stopped writing, looked over the form, and finally twisted it toward me. “Sign here, initial here, and date it. Then I need your rent for the month.”
I was signing before he changed his mind. The rent was ridiculously cheap. “No deposit?” There had to be a catch, right?
I glanced up. He was gazing down at the table, or maybe at my hands. Or my groin? I signed as fast as I could and wrote a check to John Barton, the name on the rental agreement. So he had a first name, and we had a deal.
I drove back to my cousin’s house whistling. Within an hour, and with Beth and Kate’s help, I was moved in. Having only clothes and electronics made the move a one-trip job. Then I went food shopping for breakfast stuff and frozen dinners. We all celebrated by eating a late dinner outside town at a diner called the Rock Bottom Cafe. Renting a place with a wonderful kitchen hadn’t automatically taught me to cook.
Even with an enigma for a landlord, my life was perfect.
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About the Author
Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, 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.
Pat was born and raised in Nebraska where she promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California. Pat enjoys travel, having visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Europe, including a cruise down the Danube.
Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion. Fortunately, her incredibly supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.
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