Saturday 19 September 2015

Review ~ Dance With Me by Heidi Cullinan

(I adore this cover...stunningly beautiful)

Book Description:

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.

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Our Review:

Reviewed by Donna ~ 5 stars

“Better to dance with the devil and enjoy yourself than hover under the glower of the nuns.”

This was one of those books that I just couldn’t put down, such an intense and beautiful story where the character connection was second to none. This MM spoke to me, the characters spoke to me and the author spoke to me. When I read my first MM many moons ago I never expected to fall in love with this genre so much. I try and read at least one a month but one is never enough, I always find myself reading two or three one after the other.

Ed and Laurie were opposites in all sense of the word, one was an ex semi-pro footballer and the other an amazingly talented ballet dancer. Both had their issues but both had hearts of gold, their paths crossing at a community centre where each gave a class. They hated each other, constant confrontations but we all know that there is a fine line between love and hate. Both made no secret of their sexuality and it seems that their hate for each other was just the kindling to an intense sexual attraction that neither were willing to admit in the first instance.

It is this slow, sizzling burn that draws you into their story, that will they won’t they push and pull that I love and crave. Never too much but enough to garner your interest and keep you invested on every level.

“…and when he danced he made male beauty come alive. Laurie wasn’t simply good. Laurie was a fucking artist. As far as Ed was concerned, he was a legend. And I’ve kissed him.”

Ed’s career was ended with a near life threatening injury, he somehow was lucky enough to survive but the ramifications left him with a life long neck injury that never let him forget. He battled his way through life but he had never been the same since. He missed football and he saw his neck injury as a flaw, how it made him an inconvenience and a liability and totally unlovable…he couldn’t have been more wrong.

“The pain wasn’t trying to take away his life. The pain was his life.”

Laurie had a huge career in front of him when he took the biggest chance of his life and it spectacularly back fired. It seems the world was not ready for two male dance partners and he became a laughing stock in the dancing world. Laurie set up his own studio and gave up performing. It was a choice that haunts him to this day as it not only ruined his career but that of his partner too. His family are so unsupportive and just see him as a means to further ingratiate them into the social circle that they continually flutter around in.

“Sometimes I think two parts of me warred with each other, and they took down the whole of me in a civil war.”

When Ed loses a bet and Laurie asks him to attend a dance class as his partner the lines finally begin to blur and both of them finally notice the undeniable, intense, sexual chemistry that positively hums between them. You could power the national grid from in between these pages.

“You don’t simply feel the rhythm. You must feel the soul, both of the dance and of your partner.”

I loved the fact that these two had dancing in common and it became such an intrinsic part of their relationship. How dancing brought them together but also centred them, how dancing was “their” time where their connection became so deep that earth stood still and it was just Ed and Laurie, they had both finally found their home.

“Why do you stay with me?”
“…because I don’t want to dance by myself.”

Ed was a hilarious character that lightened this book and balanced it beautifully; his sarcastic, witty banter had me in hysterics and even lightened the intense, sullen Laurie. You couldn’t help but be affected and infected by Ed’s personality. Laurie was the cautious one, the dependable one, slightly OCD but the perfect balance to Ed’s carefree attitude.

This was a voyage of discovery for both of them and I was so glad that I went on this journey with them. This was a leap of faith for both of them, one of the biggest they would ever make, but one they would never regret. This journey was by no means easy, but learning to trust and love, to have faith in themselves and each other, to believe they were worthy…it was exquisite and I totally fell in love with them and this book.

“Laurie opened his mouth, his legs, his body and took Ed all the way into his soul.”

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