Book Reviews

Shades of Henry (The Flophouse 1) by Amy Lane at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Doctors/Nurses/EMTs/Vets / Military/Former Military / Rent Boys/Escorts/Porn Stars / Erotic Romance
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 31-March-2020

Book Blurb

One bootstrap act of integrity cost Henry Worrall everything—military career, family, and the secret boyfriend who kept Henry trapped for eleven years. Desperate, Henry shows up on his brother’s doorstep and is offered a place to live and a job as a handyman in a flophouse for young porn stars.


Lance Luna’s past gave him reasons for being in porn, but as he continues his residency at a local hospital, they now feel more like excuses. He’s got the money to move out of the flophouse and live his own life—but who needs privacy when you’re taking care of a bunch of young men who think working penises make them adults?


Lance worries Henry won’t fit in, but Henry’s got a soft spot for lost young men and a way of helping them. Just as Lance and Henry find a rhythm as den mothers, a murder and the ghosts of Henry’s abusive past intrude. Lance knows Henry’s not capable of murder, but is he capable of caring for Lance’s heart?


Book Review

A great big huge thank you to the author for not making ‘Shades of Henry’ predictable, nor in any way, shape, or form stale. What in the world am I rambling on about? This is the first book in Ms. Lane’s new series, ‘The Flophouse’, but it is a spin-off from two of her series, ‘Johnnies’ and ‘Fish Out of Water’. Not to mention that ‘Fish on a Bicycle’, book four in the latter series, introduced Henry Worrall, his suspicion of murder, his involvement in helping Jackson and Ellery uncover proof of his innocence, and his eventual decision to get his PI license and work for Ellery and Jackson. So phew, wipe my brow and all of that. I won’t say it’s mandatory that you’ve read all those other books in both series in order to enjoy this one. I will, however, dare you to not go peeking at what they have to offer after you’ve read ‘Shades of Henry’. It’s an addiction, I’m afraid. With that said, I’m not going to reiterate the storyline that was covered in ‘Fish on a Bicycle’ because in my opinion, this is Henry’s story and he needs a chance to shine.


“Vulnerability didn’t come easily to Henry Worrall. Watching him come undone as he’d told that painful story… Lance’s throat ached thinking about it.” ~ Lance


I didn’t know how to feel about Henry when I first started this book. The very first time I saw him was in Dex and Kane’s book and he was beyond a little brother sh*thead. He seemed to be exactly like his father – a bigoted, racist redneck from Montana – but he was also sleeping with his sister’s husband. I sensed there might be a little bit more to him and perhaps his attitude was more learned than how he truly felt. When I saw him next, it was through Jackson River’s eyes (and Ellery’s) and there isn’t much either of those two men miss. Henry began to redeem himself so I was very excited when I learned the author was writing his and Lance’s story.


As it turns out, there is a whole lot more to Henry than what I’d seen and it didn’t take me long to fall for him. He has spent the past eleven years in the Army with his best friend, Malachi, who’s also married to his younger sister. Henry and Mal have been “just fooling around” since they were teenagers but Henry has a much softer heart than I had believed, and this heart is tired, so very tired, of Mal’s abuse, although it takes Henry a while to be able to say those words out loud. Regardless, Henry takes a promotion in the Army just so he can say no to Mal and Mal rats him out, leaving Henry with a dishonorable discharge and a beatdown from his dad. This is how Henry ends up on Dex’s doorstep in Sacramento. Lost, vulnerable, still trying to not be an as**hole like his dad - although that’s a work in progress - hurting, and just needing something but not knowing what.


Lance is gentle and sweet with his own burdens from childhood. He is a first-year resident although the other guys in the apartment (the flophouse) all think he’s still just in medical school. He helps to care for the young porn stars who work at Johnnies and live in the apartment. Believe me, some of these men need a lot of den mothering. As the author said recently in a blog post “a houseful of guys who haven’t quite grown up yet, in spite of what their penises could do.” Lance sees Henry for who he is right from the start and the friendship might be tentative in the beginning but the feelings don’t take long to develop. Neither of these two young men have any clue how real relationships should work but they have some wonderful role models to learn from.


“Still, having those arms wrapped around his shoulders, the way being held by Henry had felt like he was holding an equal, someone who would shoulder Lance’s burdens and lay his own down for Lance to carry—that had been pretty damned intoxicating.” ~ Lance


I really adored this book. Part of that came from seeing characters I’ve grown to love over the years, but also because it’s rare to see two men who are so perfect for each other and deserve one another wholeheartedly. The angst is here but, considering who the author is, it’s very low-key. ‘Shades of Henry’ is a beautiful character study and I can’t wait to read more in this series.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 216 pages/84321 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 31-March-2020
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
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