After being dumped by his boyfriend on his birthday, Jimmy Patterson decides to get drunk at the bar they frequent regularly. He chats as usual with the bartender, a big, burly bear who has an ever changing name tag. Try as he might, Jimmy can’t get the guy to tell him his real name. Fortunately, the bartender takes care of Jimmy when he is sick drunk and has no place to go, since he shares a condo with his ex. Once Jimmy recovers from the massive hangover, he and the bartender (who Jimmy dubs Guy), hit it off and find a surprising connection.
Jimmy owns a coffee shop at the mall, along with his best friend Felicity. He is excited as they plan to open a second location in the historic downtown area. It should draw a great evening and adult crowd, especially since it is right across the street from Stonewall’s, Guy’s bar. Things seem to be moving forward really well, but it turns out not everyone is happy with the new coffee shop opening downtown. Some people aren’t happy to have another gay-owned business around and the threats escalate into violence. Guy is determined to help Jimmy figure out who is threatening him and make sure his dreams of the new coffee shop are able to come true.
So this is a cute story about a twinky guy and a hunky bear who fall for each other. They have gotten to know each other without really realizing it over all the nights Jimmy and Alex are in the bar and Alex is off flirting with others. So when Jimmy and Alex break up, the relationship with Guy finally takes a turn from friendship to something more romantic. There is some definite playfulness here with Guy refusing to tell Jimmy his real name, and the guys have a little bet Rumplestilskin style about whether Jimmy can guess it in a week. I found this part of the story to be entertaining and enjoyable. The guys move from friends to in love pretty fast, but they do have the long friendship to support it and I thought they were cute together. So this part of the story worked well for me.
Where I struggled somewhat is the change partway through from this sort of light, romantic comedy to suddenly this new focus on homophobic business owners and bat wielding thugs. It just felt out of nowhere. Jimmy signs the papers on the new shop and suddenly he is being threatened. Apparently there is a brutish council member who is not interested in more gay businesses and suddenly there is this battle going on between those that support Jimmy and guys who want to see him gone. I just found it all kind of strange. I mean, first off, Guy knows all about these problems with our bad guy, and yet he doesn’t say anything to Jimmy at all when he hears Jimmy is going to buy the store. Why not warn him? Not to mention Guy and seemingly many others are aware of this issue, yet Jimmy has no idea, despite already being a small business owner in the town. And it is not super clear why the haters even care. It is coffee shop, not a gay bar. There is no reason to think his shop will attract more gays than any other downtown business. The events all just seemed kind of over the top and out of nowhere and perhaps just a little contrived feeling to set up the conflict. There is also this kind of weird “isn’t Jimmy wonderful” vibe going on with everyone on the other side of the fight. I just felt like this portion of the story felt a little off to me and it took the book in a direction very different from the initial set up. We went from this rom com, guess my name kind of thing to a town divided. And then when we find out who is actually behind the attack and why, it felt even more over the top.
I also didn’t particularly love how Guy pretty much takes over from minute one in solving all of Jimmy’s problems. We don’t get the sense that Jimmy is a pushover or a wimp (in fact he holds his own in a physical fight). Yet Guy fights every battle for him, large and small, almost immediately. He uses his size as intimidation and gets in the middle of every single issue, protecting Jimmy and intervening when there is trouble, even when it has nothing to do with him. I found this frustrating, especially on day 2 of their relationship. Just because Guy is big and Jimmy is small doesn’t mean Jimmy is incompetent, and we don’t get any real indication why Jimmy is so quick to allow this kind of behavior from Guy.
I still enjoyed this story and found it entertaining. And perhaps if you are going in with a better idea of what to expect, this plot line will flow more smoothly. I enjoyed Henshaw’s writing and I liked the light humor in the book and the connection between Guy and Jimmy.
P.S. This doesn’t affect my rating in any way, but I will mention this story is all fade to black in the sex department. The guys get it on from the first day together, but we don’t see really anything physical at all on page.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.