Terry Boyle walked into a hardware store, met Renee Patrick, the partial owner and full-time operator of Hardware California, to buy five fire escape ladders for his home. According to the overly cautious, extremely conservative, and always well-organized Terry; you could never have too much safety equipment. If we believe that opposites attract, Terry was the perfect match for Renee; a spur-of-the-moment woman, a sex addict, and a woman dedicated to a life of instant gratification. Terry was very aware of his marital status; he would not succumb to the overt sexual invitations Renee signaled. Renee was very aware of Terry’s marital status, wasn’t bothered by it at all, and looked on Terry’s resistance as a challenge worth overcoming. No other man had ever resisted her, and married men were better conquests because they went home. Tools used should be put back in their place after use.
A Man Walks into a Hardware Store by Bernie Van De Yacht follows the sexual tension and struggle between Terry and Renee from the time Terry first walked into the store up to the time Renee finds out Terry’s secret. Why was Terry resisting Renee so much? She was going to win and the only person who didn’t know it was Terry. Renee was not sure that Terry possessed some deep, dark, secret (he did) she was only puzzled by why her charms did not work on the only man she had developed an interest in.
Along the journey to solving the problem of Terry, we meet Lois, Renee’s mom. The mother and daughter have a very contentious relationship. Renee would just as soon not talk to mom but after Dad’s death, she and Lois had inherited the hardware store at a time when there was competition from a neighboring superstore, Home Despot (that is what Renee called it). Their mom and pop hardware store was almost impossible to sell for any profit, so Renee had reluctantly decided to stay in town and run the store with her Mom until business picked up. But she did not have to like it. The two rarely talked and when they did it was only for Lois to express disapproval at Renee’s exuberant attachment to her sex addiction.
Terry made numerous visits to the hardware store. Despite faithfulness to his wife, Hannah, and daughter, Miranda, Terry felt a strange and growing attachment to, and even fondness for, Renee. He returned repeatedly to the store to purchase home safety equipment while knowing he could have gotten the items cheaper at the larger nearby superstore. Would the inevitable happen? Would Terry cheat on Hannah (and Miranda)? Renee had become much more vulnerable after her mother had suffered a recent heart attack and died. At least she would not be complaining about Terry to Renee. And she would no longer be trying to warn Terry away from Renee. The death of Lois was almost a relief. Maybe Renee would finally sell the store, even at a loss. And she would get rid of the sign in front of the store that contained the neon-lit name evoking Hippie days past. Hardware California indeed!
This is a fast read with an interesting surprise ending. Readers who like stories of relationships between people of widely disparate backgrounds will like this novel. If Renee and Terry finally resolve their differences, will they be happy? This is a novel full of questions which I enjoyed enough to give it four stars.