Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Such A Dance by Kate McMurray

Such a Dance
* * * 1/2

When a vaudeville dancer meets a sexy mobster in a speakeasy for men, the sparks fly, the gin flows, the jazz sizzles—and the heat is on…

New York City, 1927.

Eddie Cotton is a talented song-and-dance man with a sassy sidekick, a crowd-pleasing act, and a promising future on Broadway. What he doesn’t have is someone to love. Being gay in an era of prohibition and police raids, Eddie doesn’t have many opportunities to meet men like himself—until he discovers a hot new jazz club for gentlemen of a certain bent...and sets eyes on the most seductive, and dangerous, man he’s ever seen.

Lane Carillo is a handsome young Sicilian who looks like Valentino—and works for the Mob. He’s never hidden his sexuality from his boss, which is why he was chosen to run a private night club for men. When Lane spots Eddie at the bar, it’s lust at first sight. Soon, the unlikely pair are falling hard and fast—in love. But when their whirlwind romance starts raising eyebrows all across town, Lane and Eddie have to decide if their relationship is doomed…or something special worth fighting for.


Growing up my mother and I bonded over books and movies.  When we weren't at the library we were watching every movie shown on AMC.  You know, back in the day when AMC showed really old movies. Not TV shows (not knocking them as I'm a huge TWD fan) or the 80's movies that just make ME feel ancient.  But I digress.  We loved black and white movies.  Dramas, comedies...we weren't particular.  We loved it all.  Seeing those old black and white dramas provided a peek at a time in history that is so different from now.  There was a certain dark romantic quality to watching the drama play out in the varied gray shadows you only find in black and white film.   When I requested to review Such A Dance I was hoping it would not only successfully transport me to the 1920's but also back to that time in my life where I shamelessly lost myself in classic old melodramatic movies.  I was not disappointed. 

Eddie Cotton has a successful husband/wife song and dance comedy routine in a Broadway vaudeville show.  But contrary to popular belief, he is not married to his co-star, Marian.  Being a gay performer in the 1920's, while not uncommon, isn't exactly accepted.  So Eddie and Marian pretend to be married while on stage and even go out and about once in a while to keep the illusion alive.   When Eddie hears about the Marigold he checks it out immediately.  A jazz club that is meant to be a safe haven for men such as himself?  He's more than a little curious.  He's not there 5 minutes before he catches the eye of the man that runs the joint - Lane Carillo. 

Lane Carillo has done what he needs to survive in the mafia as a gay man.   But when it is proposed (or demanded since saying no isn't an option) that he open and run the Marigold, he is more than a little concerned.  Paying the police to keep them from shutting down a speakeasy for selling booze is difficult enough.  Keeping them from raiding the place for being "that kind of establishment" will be even more difficult.  But Lane is smart and dedicated and he makes it work.  When he meets Eddie Cotton at the club he knows right away that their relationship could be something more.  But Eddie is convinced that marriage-like relationship between two men is impossible.  Lane will have to show him otherwise.

As they navigate the intricacies of their burgeoning relationship they both will deal the things happening in their separate worlds.  Police are putting the heat on Lane and he is finding it to be more expensive every week to keep the club open.  Meanwhile, Eddie is dealing with a  producer that is determined to not only make Marian the star of the show but to also push Eddie out the door.  A move that could devastate Eddie's career. 

I found Eddie to be slightly annoying but in a fairly realistic way.  Although he doesn't physically deny who he is, he does deny himself emotionally, which makes him a bit of a wreck when bad things happen. What I did love about him was how happy he was when he was dancing.  He positively lit up the page when he was dancing by himself or drawing Lane into a routine on the dance floor of the Marigold.  Lane is a fascinating character.  He fully accepts who he is.  Yes, he has regrets in life but he also has a lot of hope.  He refuses to deny himself the possibilities of a good life just because he isn't attracted to women as society demands.   It was fun to see this fairly even-keeled guy  comfort and hold his boyfriend up in one scene and then shoot a man for bringing watered down whiskey in another.  Trying to figure out if he was a good guy that did bad things or a bad guy that did good things was fun. 

I definitely enjoyed this story.  Gay historical romance is not something I often gravitate towards but as I stated before, the setting of this story made me think of the old movies I loved so much when I was younger.  As I read this, the story unfolded in my head as a classic black and white melodrama.  I believe envisioning it like that was what made it work for me.  It delicately pushed all the right buttons.


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