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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 . . .
Praise for the Portland Heat series
“A really enjoyable story.” —Joyfully Jay on Baked Fresh
“Sometimes an author just gets everything right…Absolutely perfect.” —Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews on Delivered Fast
“Charming and emotional.” —RT Book Reviews on Knit Tight
“Knit Tight is a truly beautiful novella.” —Smart Bitches Trashy Books
A bit heavier in tone than other books in the series
I’ve missed a few of the titles in this series, most notable to me for showing the ordinary lives of people looking for love, even when those people happen to be looking for someone of the same sex. Annabeth Albert manages to highlight those moments that are familiar to us all, bringing us closer to her characters and easily engaged and involved in her stories.
Todd is settlng into his life as a sober man with a plan, working every day to keep his life on track and not allow the demons that erode his self-esteem to run him off track. Even with encouragement from the boss at the bakery, Todd isn’t interested in taking more responsibility or chances, and is happy to be the ‘guy at the counter’. Until Kendall comes into the bakery: gender fluid, Kendall is a wedding planner with a solid niche in the LBGTQ market, even as he’d like to have more. Sure, Todd is cute but his last relationship ended badly, as his boyfriend had little interest in accepting his style and his lack of concern with gender labels.
Together, these two are sweetly adorable, even if I was wishing for more to happen to push their growth further. Let me explain. Todd is very “Portland” – plaid shirts, ripped jeans, beard. His demeanor, however, is reticent and retiring. Until flirting (tentatively) with Kendall. Kendall for his part has no interest in being pigeonholed by the typical ‘gender rules’, he prefers to dance on the edge – more feminine one day, more masculine the next, but never predictable. This has, however, caused him issues in relationships.
But, when these two finally start to build a relationship through Todd agreeing to join Kendall in a series of dance lessons that Kendall had planed to attend with his ex, the two of them start to show their true colors. We see that Todd’s experiences and life lessons haven’t hardened him, but made him more accepting and unwilling to judge people by any impressions, simply by their behavior toward him and others. Never having felt true acceptance, Kendall isn’t one to walk away from someone as special as Todd, especially if he can convince him to take those chances he so willingly gave him and expend them on himself.
A bit heavier in tone than other books in the series, Albert devotes much time to Kendall’s gender fluidity and his issues that surround it, and it often felt as if this moment to teach readers (which was needed) and build a sense of this issues this could create did take away from Kendall and Todd actually making a connection that felt as strong to me, or as joyful, as others she’s written. That doesn’t make this a bad book, in fact I learned plenty and have come away with a new understanding as well as hopes that Todd and Kendall, in all their couplehood glory, will get their time to simply enjoy one another.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Not my favorite but I still liked it.
Danced Close is the sixth book in the Portland Heat series but each of the books can be read as standalones with no problem. This isn’t my favorite story by Annabeth Albert but I still liked it a lot. I just didn’t seem to feel the connection between Todd and Kendall and that’s super unusual for me with an Annabeth Albert book. I have loved every single one of her stories and I’m pretty sure that I’ve read them all.
I hate it when I can only give a 4-star review to one of my favorite authors. Now a 4-star review is still great IMHO, but it still pains me when I feel that I just can’t give 5 stars and still be honest about my feelings when I read the book. Opinions on books can be affected by so many things like what else is going on for me when I’m reading a story or maybe I was too tired when I tried to read it? I wish I could pinpoint the exact reason.
I still think the writing is superb and I really suspect that it was the characters that I couldn’t connect with as easily and I have with the characters in the other books in this series. (Knit Tight is one of my all-time favorite books.) It's also a fairly short book so that might have been part of it. A bit more detail about both of the MCs would probably have helped me feel more connected.
This may sound weird but I tend to judge a book by whether or not it makes me cry. If a book really gets to me I invariably shed tears, it’s just the way I am. I didn’t shed any tears reading Danced Close; another first for me with an A.A. book.
I’m not going to restate the books blurb because it’s great and I couldn’t say it any better if I tried to summarize the book in my own words. I will say that if you are an Annabeth Albert fan you definitely should read this story and I think you will at least like it as I did. I just can’t say I loved this one.
A review copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley but this did not influence my opinion or rating of the book.
Another Great Portland Heat Story
✩ ✩ ✩ ✩ FOUR-STAR ✩ REVIEW ✩ ✩ ✩ ✩
> > Judging a Book by it's Cover < <
Two men in suits holding a classic dance pose. Subdued colors, as most of the covers in this series tend to be. Did not read synopsis... it's a Portland Heat installment by Ms. Albert ~ that was enough for me to grab hold of it.
> > Looking Deeper < <
POV ~> Alternating first person. Clearly defined, easy to follow.
Kendall identifies as genderqueer. He's confident and comfortable with who he is, whether wearing sweatpants, a vintage suit or a sheath dress and heels. As a wedding planner, he loves providing the magic for a couple's special day; however, he is wary of relationships thanks to a bad prior relationship. Todd works at the bakery. He has some baggage and a load of insecurity issues. It's not until Kendall needs a replacement dance partner for an upcoming benefit that these two men begin more of a meaningful friendship with mutual attraction. Their chemistry is a bit awkward and their progression is almost painfully slow.
The secondary characters were varied. Dialogue and cast interaction was good: believable. The plot was enjoyable and the flow was evenly paced and smoothly written. Although the story contained mention and bit roles from previous couples and/or characters, this book could stand on it's own well enough on it's own. Conflicts are internal and eventually worked through. The conclusion was solid with a "flash forward" style ending. I wish Todd's grandma had been included in the epilogue, since she played such a big part in is life, but other than that, it was another wonderful addition to the Portland Heat series.
Rating: [R] ~ Score: 4.025 ~ Stars: 4
⭐ ⭐ **** Disclosure of Material: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the Author/Publisher with the hope that I would voluntarily leave unbiased and unsolicited feedback. I was not asked, encouraged, or required to leave a review - nor was I compensated in any way. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising". ***** ⭐ ⭐