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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dance with Me by Heidi Cullinan

Dance with Me by Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (310 pgs)
Other: M/M, anal sex, voyeurism
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

Ed Maurer has bounced back, more or less, from the neck injury that permanently benched his semi-pro football career, but every time he turns around, dance instructor Laurie Parker is in his way. But when a bargain lands him as an assistant in Laurie’s ballroom dancing class, everything changes.

As Laurie and Ed lose themselves in dance, their lives continue to spin around them: Ed’s injury makes it clear he’s nowhere near recovery, Laurie feels the pressure by friends and family to perform once more, and the community center that has become such an important part of both their worlds threatens to close. Alone, they haven’t had the strength or spirit to face what life has hurled at them. But as the turns of their personal paths lead them time and again to one another, Ed and Laurie begin to think that if they dance this dance together, they might be able to succeed.

It’s not always easy to take a second chance. Both Ed and Laurie have experienced crushing defeats. Ed is still reeling from an injury that ended his semi-pro football career and landed him in a hated job behind a desk. Laurie gave up a very successful and high profile dance career after a disastrous competition. When they first meet, the two difficult and stubborn men create sparks of the wrong kind. But they soon realize those sparks could be something else entirely. Yet it’s not always easy to reach for what you want and to try again after being burned.

Dance with Me is a very sweet romance about taking a second chance when it’s offered. Both characters have lost a lot and gone through really tough emotional and physical trials leaving them scarred and stubborn. They’re not the easiest couple and their road to happiness is punctuated by stubborn fits and irrational bouts of anger. Neither man is perfect and, in fact more accurately, both are deeply flawed. It’s the flaws that should appeal to readers in this kind of story. The tension is entirely internal and thus both men spend quite a bit of time in their head analyzing every last detail. Some of this slows the pace of the story considerably and creates a sweet but difficult pairing between the men.

The story is well written, as all of the author’s novels are, and thus fans should particularly enjoy this offering. The characters are definitely not flat or cookie cutter but honest and very real. They’re in some ways almost too real as they fight, struggle, misunderstand, and have all the same fears, jealousies, issues, and irrational fits of stubborn anger that most people do. This makes the story feel more real but also somewhat frustrating. I sometimes wanted the men to be better than they were, not perfect by any means, but not so stubborn and silent. Also the sweet nature of their sex scene lends to the pace and tone of the story but made them somewhat less interesting for me as a reader.

Dance with Me is a well-written story about two men starting over and getting a second chance. The ending is a bit melodramatic and predictable but the story is definitely better than that. The men have angst, drama, love, anger, fear, and finally happiness.

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