Hi there! Today I’m happy to share my review of a new contemporary M/M romance from Pat Henshaw. WHEN ADAM FELL is a reconnection romance from Ms. Henshaw’s Foothills Pride series. As you know I liked BEHR FACTS, so I was eager to read this one.
Don’t forget to catch the excerpt below and be sure to enter to win one of THREE $10 Starbucks gift cards.
About the book:
When his lover Jason’s drug addiction spiraled out of control, TV celebrity chef and cookbook author Adam de Leon walked away from him. Adam also abandoned his renowned restaurant in San Francisco to start a small bistro in the Sierra Foothills.
Five years later Adam is battling the conservative leaders of Stone Acres, California, to open a new restaurant in historic Old Town when Jason turns up on his doorstep—a recovered Jason, now going by the name David and claiming he’s overcome his addictions. What’s more, he begs Adam to take him back and says he’s ready for their happily ever after.
Adam has enough on his plate with problems plaguing the opening of his restaurant. And now he’s having a hard time deciding which to follow—his head or his heart.
I watched Jason rise from the stoop.
He looked good. His golden hair sparkled in the day’s first light. A happy smile tinged with nervousness spread across his lips. He was wearing a silver-gray Bogner jacket, some sort of expensive pants, and sturdy boots. Hanging from his shirt collar, his sunglasses looked like those high-priced titanium ones. All in all, the guy standing in front of me could easily have fit into the young, hip app crowd now flooding the valley. Too much money and no idea where to spend it. He looked like a guy who’d eat at the Bistro and then fucking strut up to me after dinner, put a wad of Franklins in my pocket, and whisper, “Quit this job and come cook for me.”
Nothing tempted me, especially not the hundred-dollar bills I’d thought were Monopoly money the first time I’d seen them. Nothing had moved me like this, seeing Jason rise straight up in front of me like a fucking miracle.
Standing there in my scuffed clogs, beat-up jeans, and ratty Stanford Cardinal T-shirt, I felt underdressed for this particular dream. Shouldn’t I at least be wearing my chef’s regalia, toque and all? Shouldn’t I have a Henckel in one hand and a Wüsthof in the other? Or maybe clutching a shield made of my cooking classics, which I’d written with an angry, tormented mind but a clear eye to royalties?
“Cat got your tongue?” the vision asked.
“Fucking A, man. Is it really you, Jason?”
“Sorta. Who else would come knocking at your door looking like me?” He flung his arms out like he wanted me to hug him or some shit.
I backed away and kept my hands to myself, though my dick perked up immediately. Did Jason have a twin or a younger brother, somebody who resembled him? I didn’t think so. All I’d thought for five years was nobody—and I mean nobody—could ever have come back from where my Jason had buried himself. At least I never thought so.
There’ve been moments in my life when I was sure I was losing my mind. When I knew whatever tenuous grasp on reality I thought I had was really smoke up my ass. This moment smacked of those. As the legendary John Fogerty sang and the great Yogi Berra is supposed to have said, it was like déjà vu all over again. Only not.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I asked. Suspicion tasted bitter on my tongue.
Slowly his arms came down, and he gave me a pained but understanding look.
“Yeah, well, it was too much to hope we’d just kiss and make up.” His husky croak had once made me roll over and do anything he asked, but not now. “Can I come in? It’s a little chilly out here.”
I wasn’t cold, but then I’m tall and stout, a real cliché chef image. Fuck, I guess somebody’s got to be the cliché, right? It’s how clichés are born.
I shrugged at his question, swiped at the sweat rolling from my forehead, and moved aside. “Kitchen’s downstairs.” I gestured to the steps.
He walked past me, letting his hand trail over my groin. Once I would have nearly come at the gesture. Now I ignored my dick because my mind was numb and had been for years. He might think he could reawaken my love and lust, but I was pretty fucking sure that ship had sailed and gotten lost at sea.
This is the fourth book in a series, but can be enjoyed on it’s own.
Adam is a world-weary celebrity chef who’s always lamented the loss of his first love, Jason. They were two scared kids growing up in Stone Acres and left for San Francisco the first chance they had. While Adam scrabbled to become a chef, Jason was at his side, but things got muddled. Jason started using drugs and their partnership spiraled with his addiction until it hit rock bottom. Adam had to walk away, fearing that the only man he’d ever loved likely died alone.
Then, five years later, Jason appears on the stoop of Adam’s restaurant. And he’s not the emaciated shell Adam remembers. Now calling himself David, instead of his middle name Jason, he’s the pretty boy Adam fell in love with back in high school all growed up. Having had his heart broken once, Adaom’s wary, but every move David makes seems complimentary to Adam’s purpose. He’s the support gruff “thug chef” Adam always wished for.
The Foothills series is set in a town that’s rebelling against the influx of neuvo riche citizens out of the Bay area, particularly gay citizens. Each book has some drama related to a business enterprise and the meager attempts of citizenry or the town council to upset the progress. I’d really love for these conflicts to have a bit more meat on their bones. Chef Adam has to contend with vandalism and harassment, but he–and his trusty posse of gay entrepreneurs–seem to have the rapscallions bested before the first volley is even launched.
David, for his part, is a changed man who beat back addiction one app at a time. I would have loved to get into his head a bit. He’s the one carrying the guilt of their first failed love story, and while he’s apologetic, energetic and committed I never really got a sense of his struggle. I liked how he asserted himself, with Adam and with childhood tormentors, and felt he was a good guy–just the same as Adam did. I just would have liked more of his story and more of his angst. There had to be enormous challenges for him, in his past and also seeking this reunion with Adam. I wanted to experience his vulnerabilities, and was disappointed that I didn’t.
The book’s a romance, but it’s also a walk in Adam’s life. It’s not been easy, and he’s battled through. One of his adversaries noted that Adam’s a survivor, and he is, but he leaves the book far better off than surviving. Reuniting with David is the key ingredient his adult life had lacked. Do not expect any steam from this one. It’s breezy and shiny with a “we’ll conquer their town!” spirit that’s just a shade light. I’m always happy to see bullies and bigots get shafted, and you can expect that happens here.
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the Author:
Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, 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.
Now retired, 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.
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.