Title: Dance With Me
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Genre: Contemporary / MM Romance
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.
I almost gave it up at 92% because of the hot tub scene. It was an over-the-top repulsive (kind of a) foursome with Ed, Laurie, Laurie’s UNCLE (!), and his husband, oh, and cum floating in the water… Just try to imagine having sex while your uncle watches… Just no…
I enjoyed the first few chapters:
- the theme was great and promising: a permanently injured, retired football player and a retired ballet dancer with destroyed reputation meet. I was really curious how they would overcome it.
- the romance seemed to be promising too: slow-built, filled with tension and tenderness.
- the characters were sympathetic: Ed was flirty, funny, and perceptive. Laurie I really felt for: he was so lonely, with no friends, and no support only expectations from his family.
- the sex scenes were hot.
But as I proceeded, I realized that
- there was no progress in the story;
- there was no character development. They were unable to solve their problems. Their non-communication, insecurities, and misassumptions drove me crazy, and I just stopped caring about them;
- there were no effective dialogues.
As I mentioned, I liked Ed at first. But it turned out that his cheerfulness was only a façade, his effort to cover his depression. It is great that he made efforts, still, what’s underneath was not appealing. He is not good in relationships: he is unable to talk about important things. There are entire conversations, no, monologues when Laurie just talks and talks, and Ed knows that Laurie’s assumptions are wrong, and he could easily assure him otherwise, but he is unable to say even a word. No wonder Laurie felt being kept in the dark, in constant doubts. And when finally there would be a normal dialogue between them about something important, Ed cuts short it with sex.
Laurie just became too much. At the beginning I sympathized with him very much, but his character didn’t develop. His impressionable, easily influenceable, weak personality made me disappointed in him.
The story hardly progressed: the dance descriptions were boring, the dialogues were rather more monologues. I usually like the alternating viewpoint but it was so repetitive that I skimmed a lot. The writing was elongated and tiring, sometimes weirdly poetic. This style is so not for me.
The sex scenes were pretty good at the beginning, but became dull and repetitive, and – as I mentioned above – I really hated the hot tub scene.
There were some great moments (that’s why the two stars), but the main problem is that there is no progression, or only a very slight, and only at the end of the novel.
The story was depressing, the romance was unsatisfactory, the writing style boring and annoying, and the final sex scene inappropriate (and IMO disgusting).
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