Title: Danced Close (Portland Heat: Book Six)
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Lyrical Shine/Kensington Publishing
Length: 132 Pages
At a Glance: Overall, this was a big win for me. Aside from wanting to shout at the MCs a couple of times to “just talk, already!” I enjoyed it immensely.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: 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…
Review: At first glance, Danced Close might look like it’s going to simply be a breezy little romance novella—another sweet Annabeth Albert story with an adorable cover (the cover is SO adorable, right?). And, on some level it is. We have a budding friendship and attraction between our two MCs, and the story unfolds. However, what you get out of Danced Close is definitely more than its face value. Albert has brought us two lovely and complex characters who help her tackle the weightier subjects of addiction, self-worth, and gender fluidity, to name a few. That’s not to say the book is heavy. It’s not at all. It retained the lighter feel I’ve been wanting in my books recently, while still also having plenty of substance.
I loved both Kendall and Todd right off the bat. And, I loved that we got to be in both of their heads. Albert did a fantastic job with the dual POVs and with giving Todd and Kendall such distinct and consistent voices. I could tell straight away, even without the header at the beginning of each chapter, whose POV it was currently. I LOVED that I didn’t have that frustration you get sometimes, when there is a POV switch and it isn’t clear, and you have to go back to remind yourself who’s talking. I know you guys know what I’m talking about. Well, don’t worry, there is none of that here!
The blurb gives you a good basic idea of what to expect going in. We know that Todd is a recovering addict and works at Vic’s bakery. We know that Kendall is a wedding planner, who frequents Vic’s bakery, and has embraced his gender fluidity. But, obviously, there is so much more to both of them. I really loved this pairing from the beginning; even Kendall and Todd’s early interactions are fabulous. And, I loved, loved, loved how Todd treated Kendall. He never gives the fact that Kendall is genderqueer a moment’s pause, unlike so many others Kendall encounters. I loved this observation from Kendall after realizing the difference between how Todd treated him versus some of his clients…
“I was a character to them, not always a person. I liked how Todd always seemed to see the person.”
The character development was very good. I felt like I really knew both Todd and Kendall, knew enough of their history to connect with them individually. And, as I said, I definitely liked their pairing. But, to be honest, I wish the story had maybe been just a bit longer. I felt like they needed a bit more time to really solidify their connection with each other. I did love them, but if my investment had been even just a tad deeper, maybe I wouldn’t have wanted to slap them as much when they started the self-sabotage and miscommunication portion of their relationship! Haha. It’s true that those behaviors are so frustrating and exhausting at times, but it thankfully wasn’t too overdone here. I did have a few brief moments of ‘Gahhhh! Stop it!’—but, that was ok.
Omigosh, I haven’t even talked about the dancing!! One word…Loved. Todd had a little unexpected trick up his sleeve, which was fantastic, and I adored everything about them taking the lessons together, and finally getting to show off at the fundraiser. It was beautiful to see Todd so willingly give the lead over to Kendall, and to see Kendall shine in the role.
“And wasn’t that a heady sensation? This bearded baby lumberjack giving up control to me? I want more of that, yes please.”
Gorgeous, fun stuff.
Overall, this was a big win for me. Aside from wanting to shout at the MCs a couple of times to “just talk, already!” I enjoyed it immensely. It’s sort of funny that I’ve read the first Portland Heat book, and now what is perhaps the last. Now I need to fill in the middle of the series! I loved what I saw of Vic and Robin in this one, so I can’t wait to read their story in the second book. But, even if you haven’t read any of the other books in the series, there is no need to wait to enjoy Kendall and Todd’s story in Danced Close.
You can buy Danced Close here: