Portland Heat #6
by Annabeth Albert
Portland, Oregon, is one of the hottest cities in America. Just ask all the hard-working men sweating it up behind the counters of the restaurants, boutiques, and cafés all over town . . .
Newly clean and sober, Todd’s taken a shine to his job at Portland’s most talked about bakery. It’s not just the delicious desserts they sell, but the tasty treats who keep walking through the door. That certainly includes Kendall Rose, a wedding planner with eyes the color of brown sugar and skin to match. Todd doesn’t try to hide his attraction to Kendall’s elegant confidence and unique style, even as he worries about exposing the secrets of his past.
For Kendall, the attention is just part of the anything-goes Portland he’s grown to love. But he’s still looking for that special someone who will embrace all of him—including his gender fluidity. So he takes a chance and asks Todd to be his partner in a dance class leading to a fundraiser. When the music starts and he takes Todd in his arms, Kendall is shocked at how good it feels. Turns out taking the lead for once isn’t a mistake. In fact, it might be time to take the next step and follow his heart . . .
3.5 of 5 Stars
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!
Other Books in the Series:
About the Author:
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.
Guest Post by Annabeth:
Top Five Reasons You Should Dance
I’m so excited for the release of my latest book, DANCED CLOSE, and am so happy to be here. Thanks for having me. This book is super special to me, and I can’t wait for readers to meet Kendall and Todd. Todd made a very brief appearance in BAKED FRESH, but I knew I wanted a happy ending for him. And Todd has had a pretty hard road in his life, so I wanted some lightness and fun in his life. Enter Kendall. And dancing. Now, the only problem for me was that I can’t dance. Like at all. Todd can, however, and I rose to the challenge of finding out more about ballroom dance for the book.
The soundtrack for the book was different than other #PortlandHeat books, laced with swing music, and I watched hours and hours (and hours!) of dance instruction videos to get a feel for the lessons Todd and Kendall end up taking together. I also conducted some interviews and watched dance competitions as I researched further into this world. And a very curious thing happened–I found that for the first time in my life, I wanted to dance. I blame Todd. And Kendall. And the magic they created for me in drafting this book. So why dance? Here’s a list compiled by me (with input from Kendall and Todd 😉 ):
- It’s great exercise. Dance gets you up and moving and can be a serious workout.
- It’s social. In the book, the dancing lessons are a chance for Kendall and Todd to get to know each other, and they also meet other people at class.
- It’s romantic. Need some sizzle in your relationship? Try a dance lesson. It slows you down from the hectic real-life pace and little stresses and forces you to focus on each other, even if just for a song.
- It’s fun. Both Todd and Kendall are surprised at just how fun they find the lessons, and one thing that struck me in my research was just how much fun the participants were having. It’s infectious–it made me want to have that sort of fun too.
- It teaches you about yourself. At first, I thought dance would reveal the obvious about a person. For example, I am terminally clumsy. But I learned that dance reveals deeper truths about us, something that both Kendall and Todd come to embrace over the course of the book.
By the end of the book, I really felt like I’d been on a journey of self-discovery with Kendall and Todd, and I envied them the things they had learned through their dance lessons. Now, swing lessons are very high on my bucket list. How about you? Do you enjoy partner dancing? Ever been tempted to learn? Enjoy watching it? Have favorite books about dancing? Share!