Kendall Rose is a wedding planner and he likes to work with a local bakery for his client’s cakes. Kendall particularly likes Todd, the bakery’s delivery man. Not only is Todd a hunky, hipster, lumberjack type, but he also seems to accept Kendall exactly for what he is: a gender queer gay man. Kendall is used to getting attention for his looks and the way he dresses, and he loves that Todd accepts him easily and without any judgement.
When Kendall’s dance partner for an upcoming fundraiser has to cancel, Kendall takes a chance and asks Todd if he wants to take the dance lessons together instead. At first Todd is wary; he is only a couple of years sober and after a bad breakup, he doesn’t think getting involved with anyone is a good idea for his sobriety. But Kendall is coming off a rough relationship as well and so they both decide friends is the way to go.
As it turns out, the guys end up being perfect partners — both on and off the floor. The more time they spend together, the more Kendall and Todd realize how strong the attraction is between them. But both men are wary about starting something serious, not to mention both have major self doubts about their appeal to the other man. Now both Kendall and Todd have to decide what they really want out of their relationship, and then be brave enough to share their feelings and take a chance on love.
Danced Close is the sixth book in Annabeth Albert’s Portland Heat series. This is a sweet and sexy series that takes place among the various businesses in Portland. While the characters occasionally walk in and out of each other’s stories, for the most part these books stand alone. In this case, Todd works at the bakery from Baked Fresh, so owner Vic makes several appearances here. And we briefly see the wedding of Robby and David from Served Hot. So some fun cameos if you are a fan of the series, but otherwise you could totally read this one on it’s own.
This story has a nice, easy vibe that I really liked. These guys take their relationship slowly, and the sex slowly as well. The book never drags or feels bogged down, but there is just a nice, easy pace to the story that made it really enjoyable. Both of these men are really likable. They each have some issues, but both men accept the other one easily and without reservation. Kendall accepts Todd’s rough past completely and without judgement, and Todd does the same for Kendall’s gender fluidity. I loved that not only do these men readily accept the other, but they are also quick to stand up for each other in the face of scrutiny. There is just a sweet sense of love and acceptance here, and you can’t help but like these guys and root for them.
The storyline is fairly simple here: the guys meet, they dance together, and then they fall for each other. The conflict comes when both men begin to doubt whether the other truly could want them. This leads to a bout of miscommunication (or more accurately lack of communication) that I did find a little frustrating. I think had there been more going on in the story it could have better supported this type of conflict. But as it was, I found myself frustrated that it takes these men so much effort to talk to one another. I also wished I had a better sense of the breakups these guys went through, particularly Kendall’s as that was less explained, since these seemed to be key issues for both men but we don’t get a lot of detail on them.
That said, I found this one warm and really enjoyable. There is so much to like about this series and Danced Close is another great addition. I can easily recommend the book and the whole series.