Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Danced Close (Portland Heat #6) by Annabeth Albert

Danced Close (Portland Heat, #6)
* * * *

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 caf├ęs 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 ...


I’ll be honest.  There isn’t an Annabeth Albert book that I haven’t loved.  So I’m probably not the most impartial reviewer of her books.  But that’s okay because her amazing writing and characters sells itself.   And Danced Close is no exception.

One of the things that draws me to Albert’s books is the diversity of her characters.   Danced Close went a step further by not only introducing a new diverse character but by also shining light on stereotypes/assumptions and how harmful they can be.  

Kendall has fully and unapologetically embraced his “feminine” side.  But just because he is comfortable in his own skin doesn’t mean the rest of the world is comfortable with his fluidity.  He’s used to some people staring at him as if he’s there to entertain them so when Todd keeps stealing glances Kendall immediately chalks it off to yet another person who is curious, maybe judgmental but not at all interested.   When Todd overcomes his shyness enough to pull Kendall aside it’s not about curiosity or judgment at all.   Kendall finds Todd’s quiet and earnest question about preferred pronouns almost charming and decides to open up just a little bit.

Todd has always been in awe of the wedding planner that often brings his clients to the bakery.  Kendall is way out of his league.  Especially with all the baggage Todd is carrying around. But when Kendall asks him to be his partner for a swing dance classes, Todd reluctantly agrees.  Dancing means facing some of his past.  And dancing with Kendall means being in close proximity with something he can’t have.

Both of these men have insecurities and battles that they deal with on a daily basis.  Insecurities that have proven to be debilitating when it comes to having a relationship.  But it’s amazing what a little communication and being each other’s champion can do to build something beautiful and unexpected.

This is #6 in the Portland Heat series and I really hope it doesn’t end here.  They get better with every installment (although Delivered Fast will always be my fave – read it and you’ll know why).  I am sure the stream of diverse and complex beta heroes has something to do with it.  If you are a fan of the forever boy then you must treat yourself to every book in this series.


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