- File Size: 1038 KB
- Print Length: 132 pages
- Publisher: Lyrical Shine (March 14, 2017)
- Publication Date: March 14, 2017
- Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01HA426NM
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,890 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Danced Close (Portland Heat) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Kendall is a wedding planner, a genderqueer gay man who has found his niche and loves his work, bringing couples together and helping them plan their perfect wedding day. His favorite wedding cakes come from Vic's bakery, where Vic's new assistant Todd is learning the ropes. Kendall feels an instant attraction to Todd, and that feeling is mutual. When Kendall's partner for a swing dance class falls through, he asks Todd if he'd be willing to partner with him, in preparation for a charity dance fundraiser his mother is involved with. Kendall's last partner will be at the dance, and Kendall really doesn't want to show up solo.
Todd's attraction to Kendall is as much for his looks as it is for his character and his comfort in his identity. But Todd is a recovering addict and HIV positive. Though his viral count is low, since he found out he's limited his interactions to other HIV positive men and kept himself from getting in too deep. It's easy to be swayed by Kendall's easy manner and obvious attraction to him, though both are gun shy about getting too involved. When their attraction leads to a stronger emotional connection, will they be willing to take that next step together?
This is one of the few books I've read with a gender fluid character like Kendall, who embraces both his masculine and feminine sides. I found him to be very intriguing (he identifies as 'he') and appreciated that Todd found all aspects of his character to be appealing. There are several sweet and sexy scenes between them as they navigate a sexual relationship being mindful of the reality of Todd's status. The dance scenes are fun too.
Todd's past is the darker of the two, including his HIV status and drug addiction problems. He is in AA and goes to meetings regularly. Though these are serious topics, the overall feeling of the story is quite light and low angst. Todd lives with his grandmother, a lovely and caring woman who has supported him through his recovery. In contrast, Kendall is quite wealthy, with his own well furnished place. They are opposite in nature but complement each other well. The story takes place over several weeks, and we get some cameo appearances from other characters from the series, as Kendall is planning the wedding for Robby and David from Served Hot, the first book in the series. All in all, it's an enjoyable read with a satisfying happy ending.
--One Sentence Summary--
When Kendall asks Todd to be his partner for a dance class he has no idea that he'll finally find someone who can accept him for who he is.
--What are the Issues--
Todd's life took a downward spiral of drugs and alcohol but he's finally clean and sober and trying to make a better life for himself. The one problem is that he has parts of his life that he fears will push away anyone that he truly could love and he's not sure that Kendall will accept him. Kendall recently broke up with his boyfriend who couldn't accept that Kendall was genderqueer and that he likes both masculine and feminine things. Kendall is worried that he'll just be a passing phase for Todd and then he'll end up hurt all over again.
--What I Liked and Didn’t Liked--
Multiple POVs -- I have loved all of Annabeth Albert's other books but the Portland Heat series has just been enjoyable but ok for me. Part of the reason behind this is that the Portland Heat series is written in the first person POV of only one character and this is my least favorite format for romance books. So I couldn't be happier to find that this one was written in both Todd and Kendall's first person POV. This really made a significant difference for me, because I always like to know what both sides of a relationship are thinking and feeling and what struggles they're going through. I feel like there was a greater depth of character for both Todd and Kendall because of this.
New Horizons -- This book offered some new reading experiences for me that I haven't come across before, namely Kendall's gender fluidity and Todd's secret that affects any relationship that he wants to have. These topics gave me some new things to experience, think about, and learn from and that's always something that I can appreciate when I come across it in a book. The majority of what I read is M/F romance, with some M/M, so this was the first time that I've come across a genderqueer character. Because there were parts of Kendall's character that were more feminine I occasionally found myself forgetting for a moment that I was reading about a male character and not a female character. However, I think this was mostly due to my mind reverting to what its more familiar with and not necessarily any flaw in the writing on Albert's part. All of that said, I loved Kendall's character and I absolutely loved the way Kendall and Todd were together as a couple and how accepting they were of each other's "issues".
Kendall & Todd -- They were absolutely wonderful together and I'm always impressed by Albert's ability to write such emotional and beautiful love stories. Both of these characters have been hurt by past experiences and they really needed someone who could be gentle with them and understand who they really were. Todd may have never dated someone like Kendall before, but that didn't stop him from embracing all parts of Kendall's personality and life. Every time Todd wanted to stand up and defend Kendall against a judgmental person just made my heart squeeze. I also liked that Kendall knows when to be diplomatic and when to really make a stand. He knows that people are going to judge him but when it comes to really compromising his respect for himself, he doesn't get pushed around. He struggled with claiming Todd as something more than a friend, but he never doubted that Todd could succeed in life and that he was a good person, even with his hard past.
This might have been my favorite one so far in the Portland Heat series (I'm torn between this and Delivered Fast) and I'm glad that I read it. I was unsure whether I wanted to continue with this series since it wasn't making a big impression on me, so I almost didn't get this one. I truly hope that Albert will continue to write both POVs in her future Portland Heat books.
The story does not delve into what the MCs deal with or think as a man with BIG ISSUE or a genderfluid man. It's all very shallow. There is literally more time devoted to the description and conversation about clothing than there is to the BIG ISSUE or how a genderfluid person navigates the world. These men MUST be more complex than Albert portrays them. Sadly, we don't get to find out.
If you're looking for a short, light story where real issues are underplayed, then you'll enjoy this. If you're looking for a book where men handle real issues and have real lives, this isn't it.
I feel like Albert used the BIG ISSUE and genderfluidity like a bow on a package: pretty to look at but serves no purpose. Using the LGBTQ flavor of the month without doing it justice.
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