Of the six books in this series, this one is toward the bottom of my rankings. I’m not sure if there is anything specific about this book (full disclosure it could be my biases), but I think it has more to do with this being the sixth MM Romance I read by the same author in a very short time.
For me, this one felt like Albert had a checklist of what all haven’t I included in one of my MM Romance novels in this series yet? And when she looked at her list she realized she hadn’t written a HIV positive character or non-binary character and voila Danced Close.
Don’t get me wrong, it was awesome to see these types of characters included, but because I speed read the series it just felt like one more tile piece in the QUILTBAG (actually used Loc. 97) to complete her series.
“I want to make sure I’m using your preferred pronouns, you know? I never know what to use when I’m thinking about you.” (Loc. 81)
“Pronouns are tricky bastards, but you can use ‘he,’ ” I said. “That’s how I identify—a genderqueer gay man.” (Loc 84)
I felt both main characters, Kendall and Todd, were realistic and they had chemistry, but they just didn’t work for me. Todd’s lack of confidence was distracting even though it was supposed to come across as slow southern charm, and I felt Kendall’s over-the-top personality came across as obnoxious and not confident. The most real either of the characters they got was in their oh no they broke up moment and Kendall gave a speech to a cis-gendered heterosexual client about the fact he’s not there for a show but to do a job.
The one thing that I really liked about this book was her switching up the writing style and alternating point of views every chapter. She did this much more successfully than A.D. Ellis who I read write after.
Recommendation: This one wasn’t for me. It could’ve been the timing, it could’ve been the characters. That being said, overall, I really like Albert’s work and I’m sure I’ll read more in the future. I actually already had a book by her and Wendy Qualls, Save the Date, that I picked up on my Kindle during a super sale at some point.
Opening Line: “Are we ready to have our cake and eat it too?”
Closing Line: “This was our moment, and I was going to savor it, add it to my little pile of memories we’d made these past few months, each moment another step in the beautiful dance we’re making up as we go along.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.
Other Books in the Portland Heat Series
Additional Quotes from Danced Close
“I held open the door to the bakery. It was a sunny little building in Southeast Portland, a longtime fixture in this neighborhood, and was recently under new management as Vic, the baker I usually worked with, had become a partner in the business.” (Loc. 47)
“Only in the Northwest did we fret over what to do with that strange glowing orb in the sky.” (Loc. 150)
“Most of my clients waved the rainbow flag in one way or another, but as word of mouth spread, I was getting more cis-het couples like the circus-wanting duo.” (Loc. 333)
“This bearded baby lumberjack giving up control to me? I want more of that, yes please.” (Loc. 383)
“I was pretty sure that no one had ever died of a hard-on, which just meant I’d be the first. I was used to being one-of-a-kind. Might as well be a medical mystery too.” (Loc. 849)
“‘I know.’ Vic sounded a bit put out. ‘Just trying to help you. Stay professional and all. And speaking of, if you dress up in those dancing clothes of yours for the delivery, you could stay for the reception food—Robby told me to extend the invite to you. He says you’re his favorite delivery person.'” (Loc. 1,049)
“I squeezed his hand again, and our eyes met and held. It felt like walking on that unknown beach—like we were leaving a trail behind us of little moments like this one, just hoping we weren’t about to get swept out to sea. But if we were, I was sure as hell going to admire the scenery as long as I could.” (Loc. 1,173)
“‘I can’t believe that the ceremony went off without a hitch.’ Relief tinged David’s voice. And the way he looked at his new husband . . . man, everyone should get that look at least once in their lifetime.” (Loc. 1,260)
“I wanted a sign from the universe, but the universe wasn’t going to just hand me my happy ending, if such a thing existed. Lewis and my few other lovers hadn’t been worth leaping over—they wanted too much of me or not enough, but what if Todd was different? You know he is. That’s what scares you. If he was worth the fall, maybe it was time to sprout wings.” (Loc. 1,408)
“‘Kendall, nice to see you here,’ he said in haughty, East Coast tones. ‘And this must be your . . . delivery boy. Heard a rumor you were with someone.’ His look dismissed me in a single glance, but I surprised myself and stood firm.” (Loc. 1,592)
“We started slow, but as the trumpet player got to wailing, we unleashed some of the fancier moves we’d practiced. And right there, as Kendall spun me, I knew that I’d never been happier. I’d say that Kendall gave me dance back, but really Kendall gave me myself back—the self who had been waiting right here for this moment with this person.” (Loc. 1,602)