Danced Close, by Annabeth Albert

bfdbookblog's review

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I’m giving this book a 3.5 star rating, not because I didn’t love it but because after book 5 being a stellar 5 star read for me, 3.5 seems more accurate in comparison.

I absolutely adore this series and love that each book is so different. Ms. Albert tackles a couple of tough issues in this book, not all of which I’ll mention so I don’t reveal too much. The book is extremely light-hearted for the weight of the issues. This is a quick, feel-good, sweet romance.

What I loved most about Todd is his almost childlike, seemingly innocent personality. He’s very simple and honest. He’s extremely sweet but unsure of himself. He has a couple of talents that have gone unused and unrecognized and through the exposure of those talents we see a bit more of the real Todd. He’s had a rough go of it and sometimes I really just wanted to hug him.

Kendall is more extroverted and flamboyant. He’s embraced his gender fluidity and has, at times wearily, accepted how he is treated by most folks he comes in contact with. Because of his past experience, he projects a bit of the normal preconceived notions unfairly onto Todd but Todd quickly dispels those prejudices by just accepting Kendall at face value. Kendall, understandably, has trust issues and takes a while to really trust that Todd is as he seems.

These two just work together. Todd simply accepts Kendall and Kendall treats Todd with the respect and patience that he needs. While these two do have a sexual and emotional chemistry it doesn’t melt the pages, it’s sweeter than over the top passionate (although they do have trouble keeping their hands to themselves) which exactly fits who these guys are.

As always, I look forward to more stories in the Portland Heat series!

acdom's review

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I thought I'd be won over by the dancing subplot, but it was just OK. Cute and fun and swoony, as Annabeth Albert books always are.

the_novel_approach's review

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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.

Reviewed by Jules for The Novel Approach Reviews

kk94's review

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„Danced Close” is a sixth book in Portland Heat series by Annabeth Albert

Todd is an employee at the most well-known bakery in Portland. He’s newly clean and sober and works his butt off to have a better life.
Kendall is a wedding planner, who is afraid to let his wall down, especially because not everyone is supportive or nice, really when it comes to his gender fluidity.
Todd is extremely attracted to Kendall, but he feels like he’s not good enough, but when Kendall asks him to be his dane partner is a dance class he can’t say no.

I’ve read all of the Portland Heat books and this one is my favorite so far. They just getting better and better. I enjoy Annabeth’s writing style and her characters who always manage to make their way into my heart.
Todd and Kendall’s story was beautiful - both of them had some insecurities, had a hard time to believe that someone just wants them for them. They tugged on my heartstrings repeatedly.
As I said, the best book in Portland Heat series!
Highly recommended!

brokebybooks's review

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This is my first Portland Heat book and I’m sold! This is another series that follows individual couples, and each reads as a standalone.

~I quickly fell in love with Kendall and Todd, together and apart.
~Love switching perspectives between them.
~The dealing with addiction and meetings rings true as someone who’s been around recovering addicts.
~Love how it deals with pronouns, gender roles, misogyny, and discrimination within the rainbow community.
~Love how Todd starts catching himself with gendered thinking and speech.
~Love how Kendall has to catch himself about assumptions with food and money.
~There is no dramatic meet-cute for them because they meet through work, which I appreciate as more realistic and endearing.
~They start slowly physically, before ramping up to hot, perfect, explicit sex scenes. Don’t worry, they don’t forget the sweet, the cuddling, and the fun along the way.
~There is the commutative failure to sow drama and discontent between them, so they can come together stronger in the end.
~Things do go predictably, but that’s a feature rather than a bug.

Absolutely perfect for contemporary romance fans looking for m/m couple and progressiveness.

See the full blog tour post on my blog The Layaway Dragon.

riverreads's review

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This story warmed my little cold heart.

When I started this book I was expecting something completely different from what I got but it was a good surprise, I thought this story was goind to be more focused on Kendall which I wanted because I haven't read that much about gender fluid characters but there's a little bomb about Todd that's dropped and I was shocked. I'm not sure if this was mentioned in a previous because Todd did appeared in another story but I had no idea. It was so real and sad but at the same time Todd okay so i felt like "it sucks but you gotta look forward"
I loved these guys but I do have an issue, the book was too short and it didn't really delved deeper into a few things that I felt needed more information.

chrisvigilante's review

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Danced Close is the sixth book in Annabeth Albert’s Portland Heat series. All the books in this series are standalone’s or can be read as such.There are cameos from couples you see in the previous books. This one follows Kendall and Todd. Albert delivers with two really fantastic characters, a romance that really makes your heart happy, and dancing. I really enjoyed this story.

Kendall is a wedding planner. Todd works at a bakery that makes the cakes Kendall’s company uses in their weddings. The way the two fall into each other’s lives is really well done. Kendall needs a partner for dance classes as he’s getting ready for a charity event he has to go to. The charity is one that Todd cares about enough to put back on his dancing shoes.

Albert keeps taking stabs at big issues in her romances and I do think she does them well.I can tell she does her research. Kendall is genderqueer. Things are different for every genderqueer person. I think Albert really took her time in figuring out what that meant for Kendall. Characters had conversations about preferred gender pronouns with Kendall. It’s part of who Kendall is and I like that we see how it affects Kendall in different parts of his life. It made sense how much people’s reactions came up. It’s a thing that happens for genderqueer people in their daily life. I also liked that negative reactions affected Todd more than Kendall often because it’s something Kendall is used to happening. It also showed how much Todd was starting to care for Kendall.

Todd is a recovering addict. He’s also HIV Positive and I have to say I liked the poz rep here. Kendall doesn’t know a lot about what being HIV positive means. I’m always surprised when people haven’t done research into what that means for people now compared to years ago. This made me realize a lot of people don’t know, though. So I’m happy to see Kendall do that research and that it was present. Don’t think he talked about PrEP as an option for them. Would have been niced to see it mentioned but I am happy the book shows one way a relationship between someone HIV positive and HIV negative works.

There was a lot of insecurities on both of their parts. I feel like Todd didn’t think he’d ever have a successful relationship because of the things he struggled with his past. He doesn’t have a lot of confidence in himself. Plus he hadn’t had anything serious since finding out he was HIV positive.

Kendall is insecure as well when it comes to relationships. He’s freshly off a breakup that is still affecting him. Kendall doesn’t want something serious again. Kendall’s ex-boyfriend had difficulty with his the way Kendall expressed himself. It seems like Kendall just doesn’t want to fall into the same situation he was in before.

These stories always have a little angst. I felt like they hadn’t gotten far enough in their feelings for each other to react the way they did to certain things when the angst came in. Still, it made sense for their characters based on what we’d seen from them. I have to say when it came to the romance I could not help but smile. Todd and Kendall’s relationship is sugary sweet. It’s so cute and I really loved these two together. They work really well as a couple.

This story also had that epilog all these romances have. I love epilogs and also wish they were a little longer. A lot happens over the six months following the gala for Todd and Kendall. I wish we could have seen their relationship grow a bit more. Just a little more time with these really great characters. I enjoyed my time with Kendall and Todd here. As always I recommend you check out this or one of Annabeth Alberts other romances.

royalraspberry's review

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Imagine my delight when I pick up a random, interesting sounding romance, and it features a genderqueer protaganist! This was a well written, delightful read with charming (I am totally unbiased here) characters. I haven't read any of the other books in the series, but will definitely pick a few up!

ktomp17's review

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It was so great to see Todd come with his own book. After seeing him mentioned briefly in Baked Fresh, seeing him sober and doing well is awesome. Kendall is a genderqueer wedding planner. I loved how Todd was so accepting of Kendall, but we still saw the everyday struggles that Kendall goes through. It made me appreciate Todd's acceptance more. I also appreciated how Kendall treated Todd with respect and handled his HIV positivity. This was a great addition to the series. I loved seeing a bunch of the other couples as well.

katiemulcahy122's review

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I forgot that this was the only book in the series with a dual POV. I definitely think it was needed, but it almost made the story feel a little rushed.