Title: Danced Close
Series/Universe: Portland Heat #6
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Lyrical Shine/Kensington Books
Publication date: March 14th 2017
Page Count: 132 pages
Age Rating: Adult (Explicit sexual scenes, language)
How I got my hot little hands on it: Received a copy to review
Publisher’s page: Danced Close
Portland, Oregon, is one of the hottest cities in America. Just ask all the hard-working men sweating it up behind the counters of the restaurants, boutiques, and cafés all over town . . .
Newly clean and sober, Todd’s taken a shine to his job at Portland’s most talked about bakery. It’s not just the delicious desserts they sell, but the tasty treats who keep walking through the door. That certainly includes Kendall Rose, a wedding planner with eyes the color of brown sugar and skin to match. Todd doesn’t try to hide his attraction to Kendall’s elegant confidence and unique style, even as he worries about exposing the secrets of his past.
For Kendall, the attention is just part of the anything-goes Portland he’s grown to love. But he’s still looking for that special someone who will embrace all of him—including his gender fluidity. So he takes a chance and asks Todd to be his partner in a dance class leading to a fundraiser. When the music starts and he takes Todd in his arms, Kendall is shocked at how good it feels. Turns out taking the lead for once isn’t a mistake. In fact, it might be time to take the next step and follow his heart . . .
Kendall is a wedding planner who’s yet to meet that special someone who wholeheartedly accepts his love of pretty things and his genderqueer identity. Todd is a tattooed, bearded, flannel-wearing bakery assistant just getting his life on track after battling addiction. Both guys are very attracted to each other, but they’re also both coming off of relationships with people who didn’t treat them with the respect they deserve so they’re a little (re: very) skittish at the idea of starting up something new. The fact that each is also very aware that they aren’t the other’s usual type also causes some hitches in the road to romance.
When Kendall’s partner for a charity dance falls through at the last minute, he takes the opportunity to rope Todd into substituting – not that he has to try very hard; Todd is very receptive to following Kendall’s lead as he proves time and again (on the dance floor and in the bedroom later on 😉).
For two people who aren’t looking for anything serious, they just can’t seem to fight the connection they feel physically, emotionally, mentally. It’s like each is what the other has been missing from their life without even realizing it – it’s all very romantic 😍. And the way tough-looking Todd gets all blushing and tongue-tied in the presence of elegantly confident Kendall is just completely adorable as well.
Danced Close is such a well-written romance. I was rooting for Kendall and Todd’s relationship from the very start and found myself wishing their love story was more drawn out and in-depth, not that it wasn’t great the way the story played out, but I just liked it so much I wanted to get more into it. The angst was low, the love scenes were intimate (way more intimate than should result from a dance partners with benefits relationship like they both try to fool themselves into thinking they have), and the way the two just clicked together like completely different but complementary puzzle pieces was lovely.
The Portland Heat series is turning out to be a must-read for me and I highly recommend checking it out. Each of the novellas in the series is a standalone and features surprisingly deep and well-fleshed out romances for the relatively short lengths of the books. I enjoyed Danced Close as much as I did the last book I read in the series (Knit Tight, Portland Heat #4) and I will definitely be checking out the rest of the books in the Portland Heat series as soon as possible.
Between Todd working at a bakery specializing in wedding cakes and Kendall’s job as a wedding planner, weddings feature pretty heavily in the background of Danced Close. To get into that wedding spirit, I recommend Ann Marie’s Wedding Cake Flavored Coffee – a refined dessert coffee flavored with the taste of sweet vanilla buttercream and delicate layers of understated raspberry.