#NewRelease — Frank at Heart (Foothills Pride) #6 by Pat Henshaw — Available Now!
Title: Frank at Heart
Series: Foothills Pride
Author: Pat Henshaw
Publication Date: May 31, 2017
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Page Count: 95
A Foothills Pride Story
Everything about thirty-five-year-old Stone Acres hardware store owner Frank McCord is old-fashioned—from his bow tie and overalls to the way he happily makes house calls to his dreams of lasting romance, true love, and marriage. Frank’s predecessors have run the store and been mainstays in the small California town for over a century. While genial Frank upholds tradition and earns the respect of friends and neighbors, he fears he’s too dull and old to attract a husband.
Then handsome thirty-six-year-old electronic games designer Christopher Darling and his fifteen-year-old son, Henry, come into his life. Christopher has everything Frank could want in a potential partner: charm, kindness, and compatibility. Also, he’s a terrific father to Henry. When their Stone Acres home turns out to be uninhabitable, Frank offers the Darlings temporary lodging in his ancestral farmhouse, where he and his tenant Emil reside. Since Emil thinks Frank is his, sparks fly. Suddenly, Frank’s monotonous life promises to explode with love and threatens to change him forever.
I WAS saying good-bye to the people who’d showed up for the last “Fridays with Frank” before the summer season began. I’d explained basic spring-cleaning and distributed a detailed handout to help cut down on area wildfires and was answering the last few questions when I saw the newcomer wandering around the shop. A lot of people—mostly men—seemed to do that here in my old-fashioned hardware store.
Riley, my seventy-year-old assistant, raised a brow at me and gave a minimal shrug. I shrugged back, took out my pocket watch, and gestured for him to take his break. While I had no problem with Riley watching the stranger, I wanted the privilege to do so myself. This good-looking newcomer liked walking around the store as much as I liked admiring him.
Oh, I knew it wasn’t me he came to see. There’s just something ambrosia-like about hardware—screws and nails, and little bits and pieces, all of them fashioned to make bigger pieces stay together and work. Not to mention the tools to put everything together or take it apart.
For whatever reason, many men responded to the siren song of the store. They ambled in and wandered around with no particular purchase in mind. Some ended up buying all kinds of stuff I knew they’d never use, and some just spent the time moseying and left in better spirits, smiles on their faces.
Even now at age thirty-five, I don’t know what siren sings to anyone else. Hardware stores, even though I own and operate one, still do it for me.
At any rate, for the past week or so, the newcomer had walked the aisles in the mornings, never buying anything he couldn’t pay for with cash but always with a relaxed, happy attitude. A dark, handsome man, maybe a couple of years older than me, the stranger had the easy grace of the rich men who strolled around town in the summer while on vacation. Instead of exuding entitlement as so many of them did, this stranger acted like he’d arrived home and it was good to relax.
With his tawny, messily chic hairdo, his twinkling brown-gold eyes, and his charming smile, he looked like he could lean up against a wall or sit outside on one of the benches and photographers would flock to take a shot. Despite the fact that he wore boat shoes, no socks, chino pants, and designer sweaters in a town where boots, jeans, flannel shirts, and lumberman jackets ruled, he looked like an all right sort to me.
Actually, if I were being honest, he looked a whole lot better than all right. In fact, he was up there in the exclusive category where I’d buy him a few beers at Stonewall Saloon and try to get him to go home with me.
If I was that sort of guy.
But I’m not.
Frank McCord is only thirty-five but he sort of lives in an old-fashioned groove handed down by his parents and grandparents running the family hardware store. He wears the standard issue coveralls with the bow tie that his grandfather and father wore and Frank has never seen a reason to change the tradition.
He's kind and patient with his customers but feels he doesn't have anything to offer anyone more than a one night stand in another town every few months. He's pretty clueless about himself with what he does have to offer probably because there hasn't been anyone in town that has sparked his attention.
Until one day, in walks Christopher Darling, a well-known games designer, along with his fifteen-year-old son, Henry, looking for items to makes repairs on their house they just bought and moved into down the road. Conversations are started mainly with Henry looking for a summer job and then sparks are soon ignited between Christopher and Frank.
Frank at Heart is a sweet novella that stays mostly in the present bringing two men together looking for love and compassion. The author's descriptive narrative sets the scene vividly placing the reader in the hardware store or in the farmhouse as Frank recalls his memories of times past. It's also these memories and with the help of Christopher and Henry that he realizes he wants to change the way he's been living and start living in the present and have a future with someone to love.
There are several secondary characters in Frank at Heart, such as Emil, Frank's tenant, who is not pleased with the new developments of Frank's relationship and has potential to add quite a bit of heat to the mix, and Lloyd, the Sheriff, was a welcome addition to the tale.
Overall, a sweet and enjoyable novella where two men learn that communication is a must and love and having a family is possible, even in a small town.
* My thanks to the author for my copy in exchange for an honest review *
meet the author
Pat Henshaw 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.
Now retired, Pat, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, was born and raised in Nebraska and promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and now Sacramento, California. Pat has found joy in visiting Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and relishes trips to Stowe, Vermont, to see family.
Two of her fondest memories include touching time when she put her hands on the pyramids and experiencing pure whimsy when she interviewed Caroll Spinney (Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch). Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion. Her supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.