Title: Dance With Me
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Pages/Word Count: 282 Pages
At a Glance: Dance With Me truly is a beautiful, touching story – probably the most romantic of all of this author’s stories that I’ve read so far.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Sometimes life requires a partner.
Ed Maurer has bounced back, more or less, from the neck injury that permanently benched his semipro football career. He hates his soul-killing office job, but he loves volunteering at a local community center. The only fly in his ointment is the dance instructor, Laurie Parker, who can’t seem to stay out of his way.
Laurie was once one of the most celebrated ballet dancers in the world, but now he volunteers at Halcyon Center to avoid his society mother’s machinations. It would be a perfect escape, except for the oaf of a football player cutting him glares from across the room.
When Laurie has a ballroom dancing emergency and Ed stands in as his partner, their perceptions of each other turn upside down. Dancing leads to friendship, being friends leads to becoming lovers, but most important of all, their partnership shows them how to heal the pain of their pasts. Because with every turn across the floor, Ed and Laurie realize the only escape from their personal demons is to keep dancing—together.
This novel has been previously published and has been revised from its original release.
Review: Sometimes life requires a partner.
That tag line is everything. Dance With Me is so much a story of partnership. Of loving someone, needing someone, taking care of someone, and understanding what all of that entails. Sometimes it’s messy, and sometimes, as Ed discovers, you have to swallow a bit of your pride and just allow it to happen.
This book has been on my reading list for so long, but when I was introduced to Ed and Laurie through their cameo in Lonely Hearts, and then found out it was being re-released, I had to know their story. And it truly is a beautiful, touching story – probably the most romantic of all of this author’s stories that I’ve read so far. I swoon at some point, usually many points, in all of her books, but this one just felt romantic to the core.
With Dance With Me, Heidi Cullinan has somehow managed to meld perfectly the beauty of experiencing great joy and the viciousness of living with chronic pain. Ed has days that are unimaginably difficult for him to get through, days that would send most people right over the edge. And, while he doesn’t always handle those days as well as he could, he gets through them. He gets through them, and gets up the next day and starts over. AND, somehow manages to still find joy in life, in his volunteer work at the center, and eventually, in dancing with Laurie.
Laurie is also trying to overcome an extremely painful event in his past, but not doing the best job at moving past it. Then Ed Maurer comes into his life, and somehow makes everything better. Early in the story, as he is struggling with what direction he wants to go with his life and career, Laurie has his doubts that what he wants is okay.
He did want Ed. He wanted to dance with him. To be with him. To go to bed with him.
But that wasn’t a life goal. That wasn’t a career. That wasn’t the sort of thing his mother had meant, wasn’t what he was supposed to want.
Except it was what he wanted. It was, honestly, all he wanted.
As the relationship progresses, however, and he accepts how being with Ed makes him feel, how it fulfills him, he begins to find himself.
The real safety was here, in Ed’s arms. In the future they had together. In the love they had for one another.
In the man he’d found within himself, by loving Ed.
That last line is fantastic. What a wonderful thought…that you could be a better person, a complete person, simply by giving your love to someone. Sigh.
One of the things Heidi Cullinan does so well in all of her work is making everything seem plausible. Every character, no matter how quirky, or flawed, or seemingly perfect, every scene, no matter the level of emotion, every scenario, is believable. All of the above is true in this book as well. Every interaction felt completely genuine to their characters. I loved how their story played out. Ed and Laurie’s story definitely hooked me – and, I was THRILLED to see that there is an Ed and Laurie novella planned for later this year or early next. I can’t wait for them to dance again.
You can buy Dance With Me here: