Desert Isle Keeper
Hound Dog & Bean
Magical realism pops up in Thomas’ latest and adds a different type of spice to an already heady romance. The magic of one man brightens and enlivens the life of another whose reliable steadfastness helps ground his flighty lover.
H. D. Fisher, nicknamed Hound Dog, is something of a dog whisperer in Four-Footed Friends, the animal shelter where he works. When he turns down a man and his tiny daughter from adopting a pet because he thinks the man is a bully, little does Hound Dog know that he’s setting up his future lover for a punch in the nose.
But that’s just what happens when the angry dad turns up at Dean Alexander’s coffee shop and spies Hound Dog and tries to take a swing at him. Dean, nicknamed “Bean,” steps up to protect his customer from being hit, and intercepts the blow. And from that inauspicious meeting, Hound Dog and Bean become friends.
The usual romantic machinations take place–former foster care child Hound Dog shuns commitment while the son of workaholic though somewhat hippie parents Bean wants love and family, so they dance closer and closer together despite their pasts.
In between all the interludes, however, come passages rife with the history and lore of coffee and various coffee beans as well as paragraphs of beautiful, delicate imagery, twining and twisting themselves around the pair, bringing their story to life in a much more visceral way than is found in most romance fiction.
Hound Dog’s last real home was with a woman who was known by the locals as a witch, even though H. D. didn’t really believe she had any powers. From her, he learned how to empathize with animals and how to see more than the mundane world around him. His passion and love bleed into his relationship with Bean, making the barista see into a rosier world.
Since Hound Dog has never lost his boyish wonder about the world around him, he is the Jim Henson-like character of the book, able to infuse those around him with his visions, making the world a happier and livelier place. Like many creators, however, he isn’t content to stay put, and because of his foster home background, he fears abandonment and rejection so much that he leaves whenever he gets too settled.
Bean, too, is a creator in his own right, only his creations rely on the senses of taste and smell. He has traveled the world searching for the perfect coffee beans, and prides himself on creating coffees that tempt and challenge his customers in Kansas City. For all his travel, however, Bean is content to stay at home and experiment.
Together they would be an unbeatable pair if only H. D. could permit himself to be happy and if Bean could embrace the world beyond the senses.
This is one of those romances that will remind readers what romance and love are all about, and that they needn’t rely on sex.