Redesigning Max

Renowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene’s Outdoors, hires him to revamp Max’s rustic cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Fredi is an out-and-proud Metro male whose contact with the outdoors is from his car to the doorway of the million-dollar homes he remodels, and to Fredi, Max is a typical straight man’s man.

When Max blatantly and clumsily flirts with Fredi, Fredi’s stereotypical view of Max is shattered. Is this a build-up to a gay bashing? Cautiously believing Max is closeted and is trying to come out, Fredi decides he’s game to put a little spice into Max’s life, whether it’s in the colors and fixtures he’ll use to turn Max's dilapidated cabin into a showplace or over one of the many lunches and dinners they share talking about the remodel. Who can blame a guy for adding a little sensual pleasure as he retools Max’s life visually? Besides, Fredi has a backup plan if he’s wrong about Max’s intentions.

Life would be all wine and roses if it weren’t for Max’s former friends and their conservative families. Alarmed with Max’s obvious infatuation, they make it their business to save him from sliding into hell.

With the battle on, will Fredi and Max win the fight for a life of happiness together?


By the time we got to the Rock Bottom Cafe, I felt like I’d bottomed out. I was hungry, tired, and feeling the first twinges of a headache.

Max hadn’t exaggerated about how much I’d hate the Rock Bottom’s decor. It was the worst of rural cafe: hellacious plastic flowers, grotesque plastic-covered booths, peeling gangrene-painted beadboard walls, pockmarked linoleum floor, and faded food-stained menus. It made the cabin look almost palatial, except it didn’t smell as bad.

As Max slid into one side of a booth and I into the other, he said, “Food’s great here. Okay?”

I glared at him, but I had to admit the odors coming from the kitchen wove seductively around us.

After we’d ordered and had gotten glasses of iced tea, which I liberally dosed with artificial sweetener, Max leaned back in his side of the booth and blew out a little breath.


“So guess here’s what you need to know about me.” He was looking at the tabletop. “I was an only kid when my folks died. Raised by my aunt and uncle with their four boys. I was the youngest and nobody cared what I thought, so I don’t talk much.”

Oh dear. I wasn’t sure which of those statements I should answer, if any. My heart bled for the beautiful man in front of me who would give me a raging hard-on if I let my libido take control.

His words and lack of self-pity made me want to create a unique space where he’d feel completely at home and that would soothe him when he needed it. I probably wouldn’t end up his BFF or someone he could unbend with, but I could create a warm cocoon to shelter and coddle the man or let him entertain his friends comfortably.

The image of the young Max feeling like an outsider when he was thrust on his uncaring aunt and uncle to raise was banished by the waitress who put lunch in front of us.

“Oh. My. God!” I nearly drooled into the chili and homemade bread as I tasted them. “This is incredible.”

“What’d I tell you?” Max gloated. “Said you shouldn’t be put off by the decor. Some of us are more than our decor.”

I spooned up a couple of bites, then looked at Max. “You really do think I’m a snob, don’t you?”

Why was it so easy to get him to blush? I hadn’t a clue, but his quick, mercurial red cheeks had me intrigued.

“No, no, I don’t think you’re a snob,” he protested. “I mean, you’re just so….” He waved a couple of fingers at me, but kept his elbows on the table as if protecting his bowl of chili.

“I’m so what?”

Max shrugged. “I don’t know. Beautiful. And fancy,” he added, ducking his head over his bowl.

Ah, I understood now. Max was intimidated by my suit.

“Look, you came to get me in the coffee shop. I was dressed to take a rich lady through her house later this afternoon. I can work in jeans and a T-shirt”—did Max think I wore suits every day?—“or anything I want. Pajamas even. You just caught me on a suit day.” Which, I didn’t add, was too often for even my overblown sense of style.

Now Max was staring at me.

“Yeah, right. You wear jeans,” he scoffed, but looked interested, intrigued.

I shrugged. “Okay, not when I’m with a client. At home I’m way more casual.” I might have sounded a tad defensive.

“Yeah, right,” Max muttered with a grin.

I left it lying there. It wasn’t worth fighting about. But it bothered me that he saw such a divide between us. I was just a man, wasn’t I? Just like him, right? What was he going on about? Sheesh.

Reviews:Becky Condit on USA Today / Love and Lust wrote:

Redesigning Max is a sweet love story. We met famous interior designer and artist Fredi as a friend of Jimmy in the first story in this series, What's in a Name. I recommend reading that short novella first, just because it's so good, but Redesigning Max can be read as a stand-alone book.

Max is the owner of Greene's Outdoors in the valley of the Sierra Nevada foothills. The small town has become home to a number of gay men who left San Francisco when property values soared. Not everyone in town is a gay ally, and in fact, a few are rabidly homophobic, but mostly it's a peaceful town. Max grew up there and is well known around town as a straight, macho man. He's carrying deep secrets that he is not willing to reveal even to himself.

Max owns a house in town and he also inherited his grandfather's old cabin in the mountains. The cabin views are breathtaking and Max would like to remodel it as a restful hideaway. He's heard about the flamboyant Fredi's reputation as a remodeler/designer for the wealthy and wants to hire him for the job.

Fredi's approach to remodeling is to ask the client a lot of personal questions so he can design a look that fits the client, not Fredi's own style. Max feels Fredi is getting too close to Max's secrets, which causes some back-and-forth friction between the two.

I liked watching Max and Fredi find things they have in common, some of which seem natural and at least one of which is a surprise. They also have a common enemy in town. They recognize that Steve is a homophobic jerk but don't realize just how deep his hatred is or how far he will go to pursue his sick vengeance against gay people until a calamity happens that affects both Max and Fredi.

This is a great follow-up to What's in a Name, and it's also a good love story that stands on its own. I should warn those who like juicy sex in their romances that there is no on-page sex in this book. It's there, just referred to rather than graphically presented. Sometimes, as in this book, you don't need all of the details to get the picture. I recommend Redesigning Max as a fun, enjoyable romance with memorable characters, good and bad, and I recommend Pat Henshaw as a romance writer to follow.

Melanie M on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words wrote:

Redesigning Max introduces us to Fredi Zimmer. Fredi is an extremely talented, much sought after interior designer and artist. He is connected to several of our couples from the first story in that he designed their coffee houses (Jimmy and Felicity) and bars (Guy). Fredi is not just openly gay but “beautifully’ gay, colors and patterns clothe his body as well as his designs. I adore Fredi, he has fought hard to become the man he is, with some horrific memories lurking just under the surface to mark just how difficult the battle has been. At times, Fredi is also defiantly, “you go, girl” in your face gay. What Fredi doesn’t do is ever back down. Wait until you meet “Boner”. Then Fredi meets Max Greene.

Max Greene is a shy, huge outdoorsman, owner of successful sports store Greene’s Outdoors. Max wants Fredi to redesign the isolated log cabin he inherited from his uncle.. In reality Max is searching for more.. A lifetime of repression under his uncle’s rule have left Max shy, backward when it comes to romance and his sexuality, all of which Fredi starts to awaken.

Max is no typical shy giant. Henshaw, thank goodness, has made Max far more complicated than that. Max has a sense of humor, a deep goodness, a love of nature and artistry that matches Fredi’s so that their union makes complete sense. Pat Henshaw gives us two seemingly disparate characters who are so alike inside that when they “click”, we get it because it makes so much sense. They spend time together, designing the cabin, getting to know each each, which helps make their relationship feel real because we watch it grow in steps.

As with the first novel, they come up against the conservation faction that is against their community’s rising tide of gay population, made worse when its one of their “own”. Henshaw’s descriptions of the pain and anguish this hatred causes is authentic and believable. But its balanced, happily by that ending which I loved.

Do you love contemporary M/M romance? Not familiar with Pat Henshaw and her Foothills Pride series? I can recommend them both. They don’t have to be read in order. You will get people from each book mingling in the others, so much fun. Pick them up and enjoy them both.

Mari on Bayou Book Junkie wrote:

This was a delightful story! It was sweet and both characters fit well together despite being so different.

Max was my favorite of the two. He’s not exactly in the closet, but he’s never advertised that he’s gay or act up on it until he meets Fredi, who is as out and proud as can be. Because of that he has to prove not only to Fredi but to others that he’s indeed gay. He’s the big, strong, silent type, just the perfect counterpoint to Fredi, who is just the opposite.

Fredi might be smaller in size compared with Max, but he’s no wimp, and is used to fighting for what he wants and against anyone who might be wanting to bash him for being gay.

They have to fight against several people that aren’t all that happy of them being together, but they have a fantastic set of friends backing them up, and I really liked that. I enjoyed the coincidences that showed just how perfect Max and Fredi were for each other, like Max’s cabin and other little tidbits that gave depth to what they found together.

I enjoyed the story a lot, it was a series of tender little moments as both Max and Fredi learn to know each other and fall in love, although I would have loved to see more of them together as a couple, like maybe having them kiss or make love in a more descriptive manner, rather than just being told it happened. Other than that, it was a pretty good, enjoyable read.

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn’t a requirement. ***

on Double A:

This was a good read. The back story and subsequent current story touch on some very sensitive subjects, which makes the characters that much more appealing.

Fredi and Max’s chemistry was good and the premise was sound. There are some deeply moving scenes that make your heart just swell! The cast of characters in this book are all interesting and there are for sure some that I would like to see stories for.

If you like true to life contemporary romance I believe you will really enjoy this one! My only complaint was that at times it felt more like telling than showing in some aspects of the book. But don’t take my word for it! Go check it out for yourself!

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