REVIEW: ENJOY THE DANCE by Heidi Cullinan

Posted November 11, 2016 by MeliMel in Book Love, Guest Posts & Reviews, Home, Meli Mel Review, Reviews / 0 Comments

enjoy-the-dance-review

RELEASE DATE: October 11, 2016

Format: Novel • Genre: Contemporary • Length: 80,000 words

Publisher: Heidi Cullinan

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

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Blurb v2

Dance with your heart, and love will follow.

Kindergarten teacher Spenser Harris has carved a quiet, stable future out of his tumultuous past, but his world turns upside down the night a homeless teen appears on his doorstep—a boy whose story mirrors the one Spenser has worked so hard to overcome. The decision to shelter Duon is easy. What’s tricky is juggling the network of caregivers in Duon’s life, especially Tomás Jimenez.

Tomás wouldn’t have hesitated to take Duon in, but his plate is already full working three jobs to support his family. Though Spenser’s carefully constructed walls are clearly designed to keep the world at bay, Tomás pushes past Spenser’s defenses, determined to ensure the man is worthy of his charge. As the two of them grow closer, Tomás dares to dream of a life beyond his responsibilities, and Spenser begins to believe he might finally find a home of his own after all.

But Spenser and Tomás’s world is poised to crash around their ears. Duon’s grandmother isn’t sure she wants him to be raised by a gay man and challenges Spenser’s custody. Tomás’s undocumented parents could be deported at any time, and all the while the state of Minnesota votes on a constitutional amendment against marriage equality and the US Supreme Court debates whether or not Spenser and Tomás get a happily ever after. All they can do is hold tight to their love, hope for a better future…and remind each other to enjoy the dance.

Review Meli Mel v2

♥ ♥ ♥ 3.5 STARS ♥ ♥ ♥

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“Whatever, man. I’m sick of this shit. We gotta worry about nonsense every time we turn around. My social worker. Your sister. Spenser’s job. The stupid government and their rules about who can get married. It’s horseshit. You love Spenser. He loves you. (…) It’s fucked up there’s all this shit in the way.”

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If you read my review of Dance With Me, then you are very aware how much I loved the characters, Ed and Laurie. So, when I heard that there was a second book in this series, I couldn’t wait to read it.

Enjoy the Dance starts off with Spenser coming home to find a young man who looked to have been beaten sitting on his door steps. Spencer is a kindergarten teacher at a religious private school, so he is quick to help the young man named Duon inside and to try to help him. Duon was waiting for Tomás who lives across the hall from Spenser. Tomás is Duon’s dance instructor at Laurie’s dance studio. When Tomás is unable to take in Duon because his parents are illegal immigrants, Spenser takes him in and becomes his guardian.

Spenser didn’t have the greatest of upbringings. He was in and out of foster care since he was eight years old. When Duon tells him that his own cousins beat him and his grandmother kicked him out for being gay, Spencer could relate. Spenser longs to belong, to fit in, be loved, and to be a part of a family, just as much as Duon. Tomás still becomes a part of Duon’s life and helps him in any way that he can. It pains him that the fear of his parents’ deportation doesn’t allow him to do more. Especially, when his sister is already doing enough herself by leaving her children with Tomás and his parents. He has to work multiple jobs to support them all and he definitely doesn’t want attention drawn to them.

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‘I’m going to keep trying to light candles, Tomás vowed. Until the day I die, I’m going to do all I can to bring light and love into the world. He didn’t know how, just yet. But with so many wonderful examples around him, surely he could find a way.

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The story takes place around the end of 2012-2013 and was very political. DOMA is in place at this time and there is a vote soon to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota. Spenser becomes pressured by the principal in his school to attend meetings and vote to make sure the ban passes. I felt like the story was filled with this issue as well as immigration and foster care issues. While I think these are all such an important topics, and I loved the way Heidi Cullinan integrated it into the story, I also felt like the romance aspect was kind of missing. Heidi is an exceptional writer and it shows in all her books, I am not saying that she isn’t. I just felt like it needed more focus on the romance between Spenser and Tomás.

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‘This was the man, he realized, he had oh, so many hopes for. The man he wanted to be his future. His family.’

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As the book progresses, Tomás and Spenser become closer in their mutual desire to help Duon. The romance between them was very slowly built, which I didn’t mind but I needed more. I felt like so much focus were on the other topics that near the end, their relationship just kind of speeded up too fast. However, despite my issues with the romance and steam in this book, I did truly enjoy the characters Spenser, Tomás and Duon. I also loved that Ed and Laurie were still much a part of this story as well. They were all each other’s support system, even Tomás’ parents–who were amazing and loving characters–were a part of that system. It was really beautiful to watch Spenser’s wall slowly fall down and let all these people in.

Overall, I very much liked this book and loved the topics brought up in this story, however, I unfortunately, did not love it. I needed some more romance in this book, and it took second place to everything else going on. Because of that, my rating is 3.5. I still very much loved the characters and the epilogue. Despite not loving it, I still enjoyed it, so make sure to give this book a read.

Reading Order v2

  

Check out Meli Mel’s REVIEW of Dance With Me – HERE

About Author v2

Heidi Cullinan

Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.

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