on March 14,2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, M/M Romance
Series: Portland Heat #6
Published by Kensington - Lyrical Shine
Copy for review provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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 ...
The Portland Heat series by Annabeth Albert has been a consistent favorite of mine, with small shop workers finding love and companionship in the busy city. Each story has had unique likable characters and situations, and Danced Close is another sweet and sexy novella worthy of the series.
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.