In January 2014, my first novella, What’s in a Name?, was published by Dreamspinner Press. Before the novella, most of my writing had been produced for newspapers, magazines, and online publications, and the pieces were primarily reviews. So I was nervous about how my fictional work would be received.
One of the first reviews the novella got was very positive, and somewhere within it, the reviewer commented—in what was probably just a throw-away line—that he’d love to know the backstory of one of the book’s minor characters, celebrity chef Adam de Leon, a friend of the love interest in What’s in a Name?.
Since Adam was such a minor character, I really hadn’t thought a lot about him and definitely hadn’t concocted a backstory for him other than he was a somewhat arrogant celebrated chef, and he had started a small gourmet restaurant in the Sierra Nevada foothills after being famous in the San Francisco Bay Area.
But the comment of the reviewer picked away at me while I wrote the next two Foothills Pride stories, Redesigning Max and Behr Facts. It was a bit like a toothache. What was Adam’s backstory? Why had he retreated to an obscure area of the foothills after being a huge success in a large metropolitan area? Why hadn’t he gone to Lake Tahoe or Los Angeles, somewhere with a better chance of keeping up his reputation as a chef?
I knew Adam still was arrogant enough to think that diners would come to eat his dishes wherever he was, but he had a certain sadness about him that people wondered about. Except for his sous chef and the small chalet restaurant, where he had both the dining room and an apartment for himself, he stayed close to home and didn’t venture out much.
As the year passed and I finished the other two books, I was still bothered by Adam enough that I decided to tackle his fall from triumphs in the Bay Area to nearly hiding away in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
I wrote most of the book, but realized that it didn’t feel right. I hadn’t really made an outline for it, but had imagined the plot in a series of scenes. The problem was in what order to put the scenes in order to tell the story. Did I want to make it a saga since his past in the Bay Area so heavily influenced his present story? Or did I want to stick with the novella format which would impact on how much room I would have and what I could say in under 30,000 words?
While I was trying to figure this out, I was doing a lot of research as I do for all my books. In the story, Adam has bought and had a construction team refurbish an abandoned building in historic Old Town Stone Acres, California, the nearest town to his foothills restaurant. Underlying the main story of his dealing with his personal quandary, he’s working to turn this former frontier sheriff’s office and jail in Old Town into his new restaurant.
So I was finding out what inspections and codes one would have to go through in order to do that as well as what cuisine he would serve, including menus and meal plans for it. I read articles from the California state’s health and safety departments and found checklists for step-by-step restaurant planning as well as Escoffier’s thoughts on fine dining and Alice Water’s writings about fresh food preparation.
Because Adam was trying to decide whether to take back his longtime lover when he returns saying he’s kicked the habit and now wants to resume their relationship, I also needed to know if there were any reliable drug rehabilitation plans that actually worked. I found and read up on an array of methods from cold turkey (not recommended) to high-priced private centers and state programs. David, one of the characters in When Adam Fell, talks about what I found in the book.
With all of this information in mind, I went back to writing, using probably a third or less of the data I’d gathered. But now I knew the story in much more detail and telling the story was easier.
In the end, mixing the new information with the existing world of Stone Acres that I’d created in the previous three books was much easier. Of all the books, this one was written and rewritten more. I’m happy with the way it turned out.
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.
Series: Foothills Pride #4 (can be read as standalone)
Genre: Contemporary gay romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication date: February 24, 2016
Cover Artist: AngstyG
Review by Janice Birnie
When Adam Fell is part of the Foothills Pride series by Pat Henshaw. These stories are linked by people, and friendships developed, within and around the Sierra Foothills. I haven’t read any of the other books in this series as this author is new to me, but that had no impact on my enjoyment of the story, so it can clearly be read as a stand-alone. In fact, you may well want to revisit this author, and this series when you’ve finished.
‘Thug Chef’ Adam de Leon once lived the high life as a television celebrity chef and author of two highly successful cookbooks. In San Fransisco, he was well known and highly visible. He was also living a double life. Whilst Adam’s public persona and fame skyrocketed his personal life was in tatters. In order to find a more peaceful existence and escape from the one man he loved, but couldn’t save, Adam moves to the Sierra Foothills and opens a small bistro. Five years on and Adam is settled and comparatively happy. He is about to open a larger restaurant in the center of the historic district and the only significant issues he’s dealing with relating to some homophobic councilmen trying to thwart his plans.
David Jason Fairbanks was Adam’s first love. A high school crush that developed into a loving relationship, leading the two men to work side by side in the San Fransisco restaurant. Jason, as he then called himself, had significant personal issues, however, which led to drug addiction, lies, betrayal and stealing from Adam. With Jason refusing help and spiraling completely out of control, Adam saw no alternative to leaving him.
When Adam answers the door to his bistro and sees a completely changed Jason standing before him, he can’t believe his eyes. Relief at knowing his first and only love is still alive and, by the look of him, thriving and successful, is tempered by the fear that this change can’t be permanent. In Adam’s experience, it never has been. Jason introduces himself as David and asks for a second chance. He is not the same person, he says, and asks Adam to let him back into his life to prove it.
When Adam Fell is a heartwarming, thoroughly enjoyable, story. I found the speed of Adam’s acceptance of David into his life a little unrealistic, but the journey they took and the way the story came together made for a compelling 4 star read.
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.
Meet 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.
Where to find the author:
Series website: http://foothillspride.blogspot.com/