REVIEW: Danced Close by Annabeth Albert

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Rating 4 Stars

Todd’s life took a downward spiral of drugs and alcohol but he’s finally clean and sober and trying to make a better life for himself. The one problem is that he has parts of his life that he fears will push away anyone that he truly could love and he’s not sure that Kendall will accept him. Kendall recently broke up with his boyfriend who couldn’t accept that Kendall was genderqueer and that he likes both masculine and feminine things. Kendall is worried that he’ll just be a passing phase for Todd and then he’ll end up hurt all over again.

This might have been my favorite one so far in the Portland Heat series and I’m glad that I read it. Kendall and Todd were absolutely wonderful together and I’m always impressed by Albert’s ability to write such emotional and beautiful love stories. Both of these characters have been hurt by past experiences and they really needed someone who could be gentle with them and understand who they really were. Todd may have never dated someone like Kendall before, but that didn’t stop him from embracing all parts of Kendall’s personality and life. Every time Todd wanted to stand up and defend Kendall against a judgmental person just made my heart squeeze.

I have loved all of Annabeth Albert’s other books but the Portland Heat series has just been enjoyable but ok for me. Part of the reason behind this is that the Portland Heat series is written in the first person POV of only one character and this is my least favorite format for romance books. So I couldn’t be happier to find that this one was written in both Todd and Kendall’s first person POV. This really made a significant difference for me, because I always like to know what both sides of a relationship are thinking and feeling and what struggles they’re going through. I feel like there was a greater depth of character for both Todd and Kendall because of this.

I also liked that Kendall knows when to be diplomatic and when to really make a stand. He knows that people are going to judge him but when it comes to really compromising his respect for himself, he doesn’t get pushed around. He struggled with claiming Todd as something more than a friend, but he never doubted that Todd could succeed in life and that he was a good person, even with his hard past.

This book offered some new reading experiences for me that I haven’t come across before, namely Kendall’s gender fluidity and Todd’s secret that affects any relationship that he wants to have. These topics gave me some new things to experience, think about, and learn from and that’s always something that I can appreciate when I come across it in a book. The majority of what I read is M/F romance, with some M/M, so this was the first time that I’ve come across a genderqueer character. I loved Kendall’s character and I absolutely loved the way Kendall and Todd were together as a couple and how accepting they were of each other.

Content: past addictions, illness

••• Book Details •••

Portland Heat #6    Romance, LGBTQ+, Contemporary    Lyrical Press    March 14, 2017

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.

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