Review: Dance With Me, by Heidi Cullinan

The Blurb:

DanceWithMe-HCullinanSometimes 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.

This novel has been previously published and has been revised from its original release.

The Stats:

Published:   August 28, 2015 (first publication July 26th 2011)
Publisher:    Heidi Cullinan
Genre:          Contemporary M/M
Length:         282 pages (Kindle) / 258 pages (paperback)
POV:              3rd person
Type:             Stand-alone
Dates I read this:    September 30-October 3, 2015
Edition I read:         Kindle
Seethe book on GoodReads.

 The Review:

5Star My, my, my. That cover. I’d liked a framed print of that gorgeousness. I have this *thing* for the combination of contradictory elements. It is full of kinetic energy and a moment captured at a precise time that is soft and hard, grace and strength, fluid and static, powerful and vulnerable and depicting such unwavering focus and poise. And I love the elemental tones—the watery textures and highlights of the skirt caught in the breeze of his movement, the earthy backdrop, the fire in the dancer’s passion. It is truly a work of art.

I shuffled through my archives of my “read” shelf. I’m a little embarrassed to discover that this is only my second Heidi Cullinan book. I remember falling in love with her writing in Carry The Ocean, and thinking I needed to get busy reading all her other stuff…but apparently I was sidetracked and haven’t gotten around to that yet.

I loved every single bit of this book. Every chapter, every word. The entire story was a dance of grace and power, strength and vulnerability.

The characters Ed and Laurie, were flawed in such real and heartbreaking ways. Laurie, a dancer who fell catastrophically from the apex of his career, had never fully embraced his sexuality to feel wholly comfortable in the open. He was reluctant to trust, and had this rigidity about him and therefore found comfort in his structured life. Ed, the injured football player whose path in life also turned on a dime; by all outward appearances was the macho stereotypical man’s man; but underneath that tough exterior was dealing with immense physical pain that was working against him to redefine his life. His life was in a bit of turmoil as he was attempting to find his way.

These guys were polar opposites in so many ways and didn’t like each other to begin with. It was lovely how they came together and grew into each other in the common, healing language of dance.

The writing was right up my alley with the sort of fluid prose and imagery I love so much. There was soul-deep introspection, nuclear sex-scenes that were both tender and raw in animalistic passion, and palpable emotions of uncertainty, pain, remorse, hope, attraction, and love.

This was a truly engaging read.

This review also posted on GoodReads.

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