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Dancing #1

Dance With Me

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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.

240 pages, ebook

First published July 26, 2011

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About the author

Heidi Cullinan

45 books2,797 followers
Author of over thirty novels, Midwest-native Heidi Cullinan writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because they believe there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. Heidi’s books have been recommended by Library Journal, USA Today, RT Magazine, and Publishers Weekly. When Heidi isn’t writing, they enjoy gaming, reading manga, manhua, and danmei, playing with cats, and watching too much anime.

Heidi goes by Jun when being spoken to in person or online, and Jun’s pronouns are they/them.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 748 reviews
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,880 reviews5,794 followers
May 8, 2018
**3.5 stars**

I am a big fan of Heidi Cullinan. Honestly, her sex scenes are stolen right out of my brain (how did you get in there?!?) and I could read a book solely of her filthy, dirty bedroom talk. However, this book was a bit on the schmaltzy side for me. I am not a dancer and I appreciate dance in the way that I can say, "Oh, that looks pretty good" but that's about it. This book was a bit too "let's rumba our way to happiness" for me. Also, I really liked Ed as a character but Laurie was a bit too whiney or something for my tastes.

As always, Heidi's writing was excellent. I wish I liked the main concept (i.e. dance) a bit more but the romance was there in spades. I felt the lurve radiating from these two guys. It was very sweet in a nice way.

I honestly think that I would have given this book 4 stars if it wasn't for the WTF sex scene near the end. NONONONONO. That just seemed so out of place and so strange. Cue 80s porno music.

All in all a very enjoyable read, though I could have used more sex and less dancing. But that's just me.
Profile Image for Baba  .
859 reviews3,869 followers
August 17, 2012

"You don't just feel the rhythm," he'd told him. "You must feel the soul, both of the dance and of your partner. The tango isn't something you dance. It's a story you create with another."


5+++ dancing stars!

Wow. Simply brilliant!

Ms. Cullinan has created a soul-deep moment of pure magic. Dance With Me is beauty in every sense of the word. There's beauty in a dance and body; you find beauty in inspiration and love; there's beauty in making love; and there's so much beauty and pain when you recognize that you have to leave your old life behind and start a new one. Sometimes your life takes a turn for the worse and then we are glad when we meet someone special who will point us in the right direction. As a matter of fact, there are things you cannot change. It just is but you can make the most of it. Live every day to its fullest and you can create so much beauty.

He didn't compose, didn't demonstrate, and didn't perform. He just let the music move him across the room as it would, let it slide under his skin and into his blood, letting it take his body. No movement was given to please a judge or dazzle an audience. He did not think. He did not plan. He simply moved. And in that movement, he found an ease he hadn't known he needed, a peace he had forgotten he should even seek. The soulless movement of the morning, the sadness of the past, the fear of the future fell away, leaving only the dance. Leaving him whole and strong and sure.

Dance With Me is about pain, fears, denial, persistence, courage, hope, acceptance, enthusiasm, sensuality, passion, love, tenderness, and…yes…beauty.

T.H.I.S. is why I love to read. Because I feel pretty overwhelmed and moved at the moment. I always thought that dancing is unmanly. Boy, was I ever wrong! Stupid preconceptions, anyone? For lack of a better word, let me just say it was freakin' amazing. Loved, loved, loved it! I think you get me. I found myself floating through the story. Some parts of this book are so incredibly intense and real, I just expected that these two guys would leap right off the pages and into my lap (no pun intended). Dance With Me shines in all its glory thanks to Ed and Laurie. They are so special and multilayered, honest and real as well as exasperating and endearing. I'd say they are pretty much unforgettable. Well, and the men lovin'…mmmm…was that ever hot and utterly sensual. Loved it. Seriously, their love making was very erotic. The built-up itself was another wonderful and sensual dance between these two guys and beautifully written. Even though I'm not a huge fan of exhibitionism and voyeurism I loved the author's little play with it. It was nicely done and kind of subtle. Please note the book contains no ménage at all.

"Why do you say that?"
"That you would be a beautiful bedmate? Because you would. You're gracious and giving and though selective--too much so--you have so much beauty stored up to give. But if you don't stir that beauty up every now and again, Laurie, it will wither and die. Try giving it to your dancing partner and see where it gets you."

I especially appreciated how the author portrayed Ed the man and his injury and fallout. Ed is lucky to still be alive. In fact, he will never ever fully recover from his football injury. The pain is not a part of him. The pain is his life, and he has to live with it. Talk about acceptance. Ed really has to deal with a lot of pain. On top of that, the pain comes along with fears, an inferiority complex and depressions. It felt so real and I hurt for Ed. Without a shadow of a doubt the author outdid herself with that aspect of the story.

(…)The pain wasn't trying to take away his life. The pain was his life. It was a ridiculous moment in which to mourn. The moment to come to terms with pain was not backstage at a gala event. Not surrounded by family and friends and community members and kids who looked up to him like he was God. This was not a public moment; this was a moment for the dark. This was for the middle of the night, alone in the cocoon of a bed. This was for a bathtub or a shower, or for the quiet of a chair with the television in the background. But Ed had run from those moments. The pain had tried to talk to him then, but he had run away, had slammed all the doors, had put his fingers in his ears and sung. He'd even manufactured a false sense of acceptance. He'd told himself he was okay.(…)

Ed has such a natural affinity for dancing. He's got strength in his form and it's so easy for Laurie to dance with him. In fact, he is destroying Laurie's stereotypes about football players in a major way. Laurie suffers from panic attacks and PTSD over a catastrophic, career-ending performance. He used to have a light in his eyes, however, at some point the light was gone. Ed was the man to give him back this light. He surrounded Laurie with his warmth, strength and love and carried him to new heights. And Ed was also there to gather the broken pieces and encourage him to put himself together again. With that said, Laurie did the same for Ed. He took care of him when he felt miserable and was in a haze of pain. I really adored it when Laurie helped Ed to review his pain goals when he was suffering from depression. It was thoughtful and gracious and what he wrote down was so true. Yeah, that's love too--to take care of your partner, to lend a hand with anything and everything, and as the story unfolds, you really feel how they were anchoring one another.

I have one minor complaint
The relationship between Laurie and his mom was rather strained, and their reconciliation felt a bit too smooth for my liking. I just *think* the author could have explored this part of the story better. That said, the quick resolution didn't convince me completely.

If you are a mutual m-m lover and you haven't read this book yet…then buy and read it now! If you haven't read any m-m novels yet, this could be the perfect moment to take the plunge into unknown waters by reading Dance With Me. This book is a labor of love--you can feel it.

resolución (resolution): the ending of a set of tango steps. Does not necessarily end the dance.

A lifetime of dance.

Profile Image for * Meli Mel *.
856 reviews655 followers
September 16, 2015

♥ ♥ ♥ 4 STARS ♥ ♥ ♥

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"You don't simply feel the rhythm. You must feel the soul, both of the dance and of your partner. The tango isn't something you dance. It's a story you create with another."

●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●

Ed Maurer is an ex-semipro-football player that has had to leave his athletic glory behind due to a neck injury that bans him from ever playing again. Ed doesn't want to accept his fate that he is disabled as a result. He is determined to live his life as normal as possible even without football, by trying to ignore the pain he sporadically gets. That means having an office job he hates. While also volunteering at a community center, the only thing he looks forward to.

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"With the right partner, it's like I'm anchored, and I can do anything."

Ed's lips brushed Laurie's ear, sending electricity through his body, but his words burrowed into Laurie's soul. "I want to be your right partner."

●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●  ●

Laurie Parker was once a rising star in the ballet community. But after an event left him feeling humiliated he has turned his back to competing professionally. Now, Laurie is a dance instructor at the same community center. Everything is great for Laurie until Ed enters the picture pestering him about the volume of his music he uses in his classes. Things change when Ed ends up being his dance assistant in exchange for turning the volume down.

I can't tell you how much I loved these two characters. They were so freaking cute together. When Ed and Laurie begin dancing together, it made me giddy seeing that attraction between them grow. They were pretty opposite as well. Ed was a "manly" broad football player making average pay, while Laurie was a slightly "feminine" dancer with a wealthy background. Yet, they worked so well together. I loved being inside Ed's head and seeing how he was falling for Laurie, it was so damn adorable. Another thing I really enjoy, and something have noticed from ready many of Heidi's books, is that she thoroughly researches what she writes about. In this case, it was the dancing. It was described so well with some delicious sensual tension that the only thing that could make it better was to see it live.

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'I don't ever want to disappoint you. I want to stay here, like this. Always. I don't want to just take care of you. I want you to take care of me too.'

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This book also had many emotional moments that made me feel for Ed and Laurie. They were both a bit broken, but together they calmed, supported, and healed each other. I loved how Laurie took care of Ed. It was really just a beautiful story. The only reason I didn't give it a higher rating, was because some parts of the book were a bit slow at times. I also didn't really care for one sex scene in particular. But other than that, it was a wonderfully written story that was very enjoyable. I loved both the characters and really connected with them. I definitely recommend this one.

Profile Image for Exina.
1,189 reviews383 followers
January 19, 2020
I almost gave it up at 92% because of the hot tub scene. It was an over-the-top repulsive (kind of a) Just no…

I enjoyed the first few chapters:
- the theme was great and promising: a permanently injured, retired football player and a retired ballet dancer with destroyed reputation meet. I was really curious how they would overcome it.
“What are you doing after this?” Ed said again, as if Laurie hadn’t just shouted at him.
This only made Laurie more furious. “I’m going home and sticking pins in my Ed voodoo doll.”

- the romance seemed to be promising too: slow-built, filled with tension and tenderness.
- the characters were sympathetic: Ed was flirty, funny, and perceptive. Laurie I really felt for: he was so lonely, with no friends, and no support only expectations from his family.
- the sex scenes were hot.
Ed, who had held his hand and told him the past wasn’t his fault. Ed, who drove him crazy, but who, he realized when he was with him, never let him feel alone.
As he stood there staring, letting all those thoughts swirl around him, he decided to stop fooling himself and admit, at least to himself, the real reason he’d been so eager to take Ed home.
So he stepped forward, pushed Ed back against the closet door, and kissed him.

But as I proceeded, I realized that
- there was no progress in the story;
- there was no character development. They were unable to solve their problems. Their non-communication, insecurities, and misassumptions drove me crazy, and I just stopped caring about them;
- there were no effective dialogues.

As I mentioned, I liked Ed at first. But it turned out that his cheerfulness was only a façade, his effort to cover his depression. It is great that he made efforts, still, what’s underneath was not appealing. He is not good in relationships: he is unable to talk about important things. There are entire conversations, no, monologues when Laurie just talks and talks, and Ed knows that Laurie’s assumptions are wrong, and he could easily assure him otherwise, but he is unable to say even a word. No wonder Laurie felt being kept in the dark, in constant doubts. And when finally there would be a normal dialogue between them about something important, Ed cuts short it with sex.

Laurie just became too much. At the beginning I sympathized with him very much, but his character didn’t develop. His easily influenceable and weak personality made me disappointed in him.

The story hardly progressed: the dance descriptions were boring, the dialogues were rather more monologues. I usually like the alternating viewpoint but it was so repetitive that I skimmed a lot. The writing was elongated and tiring, sometimes weirdly poetic. This style is so not for me.

The sex scenes were pretty good at the beginning, but became dull and repetitive, and – as I mentioned above – I really hated the hot tub scene.

There were some great moments though, that’s why the two stars.
He turned to Ed in disbelief. “Britney Spears?”
Ed bristled. “I don’t want to hear any crap about Britney from somebody who plays La Bouche in aerobics class and goes to Barbra Streisand concerts.”
It was a full Spears album, apparently, and each song was as ridiculous as the one before. They were catchy, yes, but so was the plague.

The main problem for me is that there is no progress, only a very slight one at the end of the novel.
The story is depressing, the romance is unsatisfying, the writing style is boring and annoying, and the final sex scene is inappropriate (and IMO disgusting).

Profile Image for Ingie.
1,356 reviews168 followers
November 29, 2015
5 Dancing Stars - so beautiful, so real and a very good touching M/M story

Another book that has been lying way too long. I'm hoping for a nice dance experience filled with sensual dance moves, beautiful movement and great sweet romance of course. ~ And I got it all!

My big romantic heart pounds for these two amazing men. And as they danced - so atmospheric and beautifully described. Ed and Laurie's story was great to read. As so often when I read a great great book, I have great ambitions to write a long eloquent review. But then it's usually not done and the days go by. This time I blame it all on a weekend trip who came between. In order not to increase my mediocre review-writing and everyday stress, it is now here, instead a short and concise summary of my thoughts.

Ed and Laurie are two guys around 30 who meet and get to know each other by coincidence. Laurie is a former trained, professional dancer with a background from the big stages and dance societies. One mistake and a controversial appearance a few years earlier did to put his successful dance career on the shelf and now runs a local dance school. Ed is a shoulder injured former (american) football player who has aches and feels that his life goals disappeared too quickly.

After losing a battle must the big bulky muscle guy (Laurie's bias...) Ed set up as a dance partner to the rather silly and hefty ballet-guy (Ed's bias...) in ten dance on one of Laurie's dance classes. From the beginning, they feel most contempt for each other, but after a while makes love to dance (Argentine tango) that emotions change into something much, much stronger. It heats up...
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‘....Streisand's "My Melancholy Baby" began to echo Ed held up his arms in an open dancing embrace and smiled a crooked, slightly shy smile.
“Dance with me?”

This is so damn nicely done and worthily written. I loved every single line and every page I read. For me it is a "must read romance" in the M/M genre. The dance is so sensual described and their growing feelings for each other is heartbreaking to follow. Both guys have their own problems to deal with. It's lost careers and life goals, injuries, stage fright, raw relationships with parents. There is anxiety, physical pain, denial and sometimes fear to show what they feel for each other. This story invites us to participate in everyday life and not just a sweet romance, and it's wonderful to be part of their journey.

What is it that makes this particular book so good?
~ For me this was a beautiful and so very emotional story, a story I really believed. It was realistic and not rushed in any way. I got instead to follow this two men, Laurie and Ed, in good and bad times and I loved the end here and their realistic and tender HEA. The final scene was both grand and so heartbreakingly beautiful, and then came almost my tears. Very nicely done Ms Cullman.

Sigh, so good it gets sometimes.

Since I have a penchant for ordinary, human, normal characters that I can recognize from ordinary real life, it is of course beyond doubt FIVE strong stars to this novel. I could praise this long and hard but content myself now by saying: RECOMMENDED!!

I LIKE - romantic about two ordinary guys and real life.


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Some beautiful dance pics with men I want to share:
Profile Image for Blacky *Romance Addict*.
473 reviews6,300 followers
November 5, 2016
This was such a beautiful story Photobucket 5+ stars from me :)

Ed and Laurie are complete opposites. Ed is a former football player, all butch and manly, while Laurie is a former ballet dancer, a bit feminine and totally stylish. They can't stand each other, and whenever their paths cross, they end up fighting XD Now I won't go explaining all the plot, but basically Ed asks Laurie for a favour, and in return he has to assist him with his dancing classes. Very soon, Ed finds he really likes dancing, and most of all, he really likes dancing WITH Laurie.

Ed is the first one to "fall", but he doesn't do anything about it because he's convinced Laurie would never fall for a blue collar guy like him. And then he got drunk Photobucket it was actually very very sweet to read Ed with his guard down, acting silly and saying and doing stuff to Laurie he wouldn't do sober. But boy that didn't help him a bit XD Still, Laurie finally gets that there is something between them, and they decide to give it a shot Photobucket

The dancing lessons were GREAT! I found myself wishing I could actually SEE it instead of reading it :) Beautiful :)

This was full of emotion, Ed with his neck injury and depression, Laurie with his panick attacks on dancing in public, and together they found a way to get past that, embrace their faults instead ignoring the problems :) Really well written Photobucket

While I was reading this, especially the parts where Laurie was in glitter and tights, and dancing his solos, I had this performance in my head, I couldn't get it out, a beautiful song, and a beautiful dance (although it's F/M lol but I think it could go with this well)

The translation is "I want to dance for you my love"

Dralion - Ballare

Profile Image for Optimist ♰King's Wench♰.
1,770 reviews3,864 followers
November 12, 2015
This book caught me off guard.

I never expected to fall in love with it and when I found myself CRYING at the end all I could think was, 'DAMN YOU, HC! And your feels sorcery!'

I thought it would be a nice little enemies to lovers dancing story! Y'know sweet and cute with some blazing sex. Uh ho ho! Never underestimate the power of HC. The sorcery is strong with that one.

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Laurie and Ed have been snarking at each other over a PA system at the community center they both volunteer at that's intrusive and annoying. Ed comes to Laurie in the middle of his aerobics class to strike a deal and Laurie takes him up on his offer to "do anything" on a lark. He asks Ed to be his assistant for another class teaching retirees ballroom dancing and the die is cast.

Laurie was on track to becoming the next Baryshnikov until his career imploded on a Toronto stage. He's listless and looking for something that speaks to him. Something he can be passionate about again.

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Ed is a former semi-pro football player who suffered an injury in a game that had it been a millimeter or two over would have put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Ed is also that guy. You know that guy. The one everyone loves because he can talk to a leper and make them feel like his long lost buddy. Ed oozes charm, but Ed also excels at subterfuge.

Ed's stuffed all of his anger and sadness about the loss of his former pain free self and because of his continued denial about his limitations he suffers both physically and emotionally. To go from being a professional athlete capable of bench pressing a car to struggling through hydrotherapy in a class full of geriatrics is both humbling and depressing for him. It doesn't help that his job brings additional stress because everyone's always on pins and needles wondering whether or not they'll be the next to go in yet another round of lay offs. A job he pretty much hates but needs for the health insurance.

His acceptance of his new reality comes in fits and starts.

What made me fall in love with Ed and Laurie was vulnerability they both harbor about life and love and the future all of which is shown through HC's poignant narrative. They both need each other, rely on each other, are passionate about each other and they both love to dance. With each other most of all. And in each other they find what they've been looking for.

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As odd as this statement may strike some of you I appreciated that they didn't jump into butt sex. Laurie's carrying much confusion over his sexuality and has never really enjoyed sex. Ed never rushes him instead showing him love and acceptance so when it does happen Laurie has none of his usual anxieties. HC managed to make me feel a little like a voyeur peeking into their intimate act, but I have no shame. I'm a hedonist and every filthy sweet nothing, every 'please' I squirreled away like a chipmunk readying for winter.

He wanted Laurie so desperately that a part of him wanted to plow through and take him, strip him bare and suck him and fuck him until the man couldn't move, couldn't leave Ed's arms.

In all honesty there were a couple things that I would've liked expounded upon, but my love of this couple overshadowed everything else and the ending was so very satisfying. I actually sighed with relief to see there is a follow up novella coming soon. Ed and Laurie and their dancing are infinitely deserving of more page time because sometimes life does require a partner.

I couldn't recommend this re-issue more. It's not a fussy or fancy tale. It's a story of two men who at one point in time couldn't stand the other and then that changed and then they built a life together and it's exquisite in its simplicity.


A review copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Erth.
3,616 reviews
June 11, 2020
This is a straightforward m/m romance with a great HEA; but what isn't straightforward is the relationship between the two men, and their battle with their own personal demons.
What I loved about this story was the care, compassion and love they have for each other. Dancing is used in several different ways in the plot, but ultimately it's about how Laurie & Ed dance together, physically and emotionally.
Overall a feel good romance, with enough fire to draw the reader in, invest in the characters and cheer for the HEA!
Profile Image for I~❤️~Books.
714 reviews61 followers
February 21, 2018
This review has been posted on Dirty Books Obsession

✮4.5 Stars✮
I love everything about this book..the story ,the character, and the cover ..so beautiful.

Ed Maurer and Laurie Parker...they meet at a local community center where are both volunteers of Halcyon Center.
At first, they did not like each other and there is tension between them until the situation makes Laurie ask Ed if he wants to be his dance partner to a ballroom dance class where he is the instructor.
It is the beginning when everything changes between them because they start to dance... together.

Ed Maurer
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Former semipro football player.

Due to a neck injury during a game is forced to give up his football career and lives with pain every day.He has a job that hates but he loves to volunteer at a local community center.
He discovers a new passion...Dancing...Dancing with Laurie.

Laurie Parker
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He was once a famous ballet dancer.

After a competition which changed the course of his career he doesn't want to perform on stage anymore.Laurie just wants to teach dance classes and avoid public society....and ...his mother...who insists that he must return to perform on the stage where is his place.

This book is about hope to do what you love,acceptance for who you are as a person, pain, and fear for the changes in your life and learn that sometimes to accept help from the loved ones is not a bad thing.
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Ed and Laurie trying to get over some things in their past that changed their lives.

Will be Ed able to accept the changes in his life that he has to live because of his injury?Will Laurie perform on stage again so that people can enjoy his beautiful dance? Will they succeed together to get over the problems they have and try to have a beautiful future together?

Will they dance together until to the very end?
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I really recommend this book for those who want to read a sweet love story.
Profile Image for ~Nicole~.
675 reviews159 followers
January 24, 2023
Reread 2023
Well, Andi here put this book back on my radar yesterday by gushing about it. I gave it 3 stars back in 2020 and I didn’t really remember much of it but I wanted to see how I felt about it now. Well I loved it more! It was almost a 5 stars read (yeah yeah, the bar is lower because I ran out of good books, sue me ! lol ) but I settled for 4 stars because….Oliver. He was kind of slimy and sleazy and almost predatory old dude. The jacuzzi scene in his house was eeww and cringey af . I loved Ed and Laurie , I have such a weakness for dancers 😍
Profile Image for Jenni Lea.
802 reviews296 followers
August 28, 2013
This book was, quite simply, marvelous.

I must commend Ms. Heidi Cullinan on giving me a story that was real and raw and sexy and so mature. I felt like a grown up reading it. Well done!

What was this book about? I can sum it up in one word:


Acceptance of friends and family and their idiosyncrasies. Acceptance of what life throws at you. Acceptance of the good as well as the bad. Acceptance of love; not just in each other but in one’s own self.

I connected with Ed and Laurie on a level I rarely reach when reading a story. It felt as though these two men and the people in their lives could be my friends. I could picture myself hanging out with them at the bar or going shopping with them. They were not perfect. No, they were messy and awkward and just so incredibly real.

I think this may have been the best book I have read all month.

Bravo, Ms. Cullinan, bravo!
Profile Image for Trisha Harrington.
Author 2 books124 followers
March 5, 2015
For some reason the blurb didn't draw me into this book. I held off for months thinking this would be okay at best. Boy was I wrong. Apart from one scene this book was perfect for me. I loved the couple, the plot, and the general feel of the book. I was drawn in from the first chapter and I fell head over heels in love. An added bonus was I found myself grinning through most of the book. It happens sometimes, but not quite that often.

Ed and Laurie are the boys here, and they were just so adorable together. There were miscommunications, lack of communication, and sweetness. They had their issues. One was recovering from a football injury, and the other had issues with having to leave dancing behind. It was dancing that brought these two together... And now let me tell you, I'm not big into dancing, but this book never made me lose interest. Even though dancing was a theme, it wasn't the book. It didn't take over, and for that I am grateful.

This book had some incredible, hot love scenes. Some would find them sappy or too sickly sweet. And to be honest, they were sappy and sweet, but they were also really hot. I mean really. I loved the way Ed treated Laurie like... well, like a prince almost. He was incredibly lovely during those scenes. He made sure Laurie felt desired and wanted. He did everything in his power to make Laurie enjoy sex. I think, together, they made a wonderful couple both in bed and out of it. They just needed to communicate. And dancing was brought up during the sex scenes. I thought it would be annoying, but it was sweet.

A couple of people suggested Ed's pain could have been dealt with better. Maybe. I can see why people would think that. But I don't like my romances going all over the place. Ed's pain was a big part of him as a character - and not in a bad way, either. It played a part in his personality. Had the author concentrated more on his pain, I would have lost interest a little bit. Both Ed's and Laurie's struggles were dealt with satisfactorily. I couldn't complain.

I really did love this book. And I didn't think there was anything that could have changed how much I love the book. It was a solid 5 star book... Then we had the hot tub scene. While I could have overlooked that, it was just as detailed as the rest of the book, and so it couldn't be overlooked. So it brought my rating down... slightly. But still.

For fans of the author, or sweeter more romantic books, I would recommend giving this one a go. It really is amazing.
Profile Image for Damon Suede.
Author 20 books2,122 followers
September 22, 2011
My full review is posted over at Jessewave:


I’ve said it before but it bears repeating, Cullinan writes her books. She doesn’t merely type them and hope for the best; she doesn’t cobble them together out of half-digested borrowings; she doesn’t regurgitate the same bland book over and over in an Ourobouros of homoerotic hackwork. Cullinan writes; she writes beautifully; and she has written a marvelous book that you will enjoy if you have any interest in sexy, subtle, snarky romance fiction.

Dance with Me is a contemporary Odd Couple narrative about two men who shouldn’t work together, but almost cannot work apart. As with many of her books, Cullinan starts with a “cute” story germ that almost feels like a high-end porn setup (Dancer and Jock tussle!) and then refuses to take the easy, sleazy road to their HEA. The story straddles the worlds of dance and football at several levels of professionalism and expertise… As always, Cullinan revels in the particulars of her characters’ lives. Her characters inhabit the worlds of sports and art from limelight to ruin fully and viscerally because she spends time aggregating the tiny slivers of reality that make their jobs feel like more than a costumes her characters wear between sexy times and witty banter.

And let me tell you: the times, they are sexy and the banter, it is witty. The engaging reality of these two men slams into you from the first intense pages of personal setback which set up the plot and the searing meet-cute. With typical panache, she draws clear parallels between the competitiveness and equilibrium native to all athletes of stage and field… and then keeps her men off balance for most of the book with delicious results. She sidesteps the clichés about masculinity and aggression you might expect, and even prods stereotypes and prejudices within the gay community. Awesome! Cullinan has a knack for building these meat-n-bone men and then dragging them towards their happy endings over mud and marble.

A few quibbles about plot and a certain detachment to Laurie's backstories and resolutions, but nothig that interfered with my enjoyment.

Totally dug this one. I loved getting to know these two men and will definitely read it again… more than once. If for some insane reason you haven’t already bought it, you should. And if you own it and have dallied, you’re missing out. Dance with Me offers righteous moves and technique to spare.
Profile Image for Sheri.
1,373 reviews153 followers
November 17, 2013
Occasionally you stumble or in my case, fall into a story that takes your breath away. I tripped, slipped and plundered into the depths of this story, and was stunned how far I fell. I was NOT expecting it to be so profound and so greatly layered.
Damn, do I ever love surprises!
See, here’s the thing…this is a gorgeous love story, it’s written with grace and style, and it’s real. It is so real I had to continue to remind myself it wasn’t. Then I was pissed at myself for raining on my happy dancing parade. It felt so genuine that I could see every detail with pristine clarity. I can still close my eyes and see their movements, hear the music, and feel their love.
Very few books have such ability and I solely attribute this to the supreme talent of Ms. Cullinan.

Both Ed and Laurie have suffered heartache, shattered dreams, and a future they never envisioned. Humiliation, anger, depression…yep, they both hit rock bottom and are incapable of pulling themselves from the murky sticky pains from their past.

Their first encounter with one another is unpleasant. Actually, that’s putting it kindly….they despised one another. Yet once they drop their prejudices and misconceptions a powerful magnetic pull cannot be denied. Then cold barriers melt things heat up quickly.

I believe in soulmates, and I undoubtedly believe Ed and Laurie are soulmates. ‘For better and worse, for richer or poorer, through sickness and health.’
They give each other the one thing that no one else in the world can give them.
No frilly fairy-tale, no easy path to their happily-ever-after, and this is exactly what I loved so very much...it was hard earned to get there, making it that much sweeter at the end.
Holy tango…the passion is scorching. Even hotter than the sex was their love. I could watch them fall for one another again, and again, and again.
I'm gushing...I know, I just can't help it.

I liked the dancing. I liked the sports. I loved the melding of the two.
I liked Ed. I liked Laurie. I adored them together.
The last dance *sigh* took my breath away....

One niggle….one teeny little thing that I could have done without….the hot tub scene. Bleh. I sooooo did not need to see that! Without that tummy turning scene this would have been a burning hot 5 stars, but regardless, it’s still one of my favorite books this year.

Please…take a chance on this book…take a gamble on their journey…and I hope you lose yourself in their story too.

*4.5 brilliant-breathtaking-beautiful stars*
Profile Image for Heather C.
1,477 reviews214 followers
August 7, 2011
An absolutely beautiful story!!

So...this was my first book by Heidi Cullinan and I must admit that I was a little scared in the beginning. But I really trust LA's recommendations so I knew I would be okay. Laurie and Ed were so beautiful together; their dancing, their kisses, their love making, their...everything!! They were so perfect for each. Yes, it had the famous dancer and the typical football player. You know...the usual stereotypes. But the difference was that that was no longer their careers. Disaster destroyed that for each of them and dance brought them together. Beautiful dancing!

There was some angst, but overall the story was just so beautiful and sweet. The angst wasn't the main focus of their relationship, but instead caused from Laurie's resistance to perform publicly and Ed's football injury. The two men needed each other to overcome their past and accept their future...with each other and without their past careers. It had so many sweet moments. This was one of those books where I found myself grinning a lot and was really glad no one saw me looking so silly. So sweet! I did cry twice but it was only at really, really sweet and romantic scenes. And also, of course, at the end!!

I loved the sexual tension between these two. Sex on the page didn't even happen until around 48% into the book. There were quite a few sex scenes and they were even a little raunchy at times, but still way less sex than I was expecting. It didn't drag the story at all, especially since they mixed it up and none of the scenes were repetitive. Plus, Ed and Laurie were really sweet together. Ed always made sure Laurie was comfortable with what they were doing.

I loved Heidi's writing! It was Absolutely Beautiful!!!
Profile Image for Mirjana **DTR - Down to Read**.
1,396 reviews661 followers
September 13, 2015

***3.5 Stars***

"You don't just feel the rhythm. You must feel the soul, both of the dance and of your partner. It's a story you create with another."

This book is so difficult for me to rate. It's quite a beautiful love story, of that there is no question. Laurie and Ed are fantastic characters with depth and charm and a heartbreaking grief they constantly carry. But this was an exhausting and too somber for my tastes read. Even the beauty of Ed and Laurie's love and bond wasn't enough to lift the fog of anxiety and despair that hung over the majority of the book.

Laurie lives in a constant state of anxiety. Dancing...which was once his passion, something that made him feel exhilarated, alive, graceful and powerful, has now turned into an all consuming panic filled with trepidation, expectations, sadness and fear. One decision, one moment in time has crippled his love for the art.

Ed has lost the one true love of his life, football. A play on the field that went horribly wrong has changed his life forever. He knows he's lucky to be alive, to still be able to walk and function...but he can't find a way to accept his new life, to not let the depression and "if only" attitude consume his daily thoughts.

When Laurie asks Ed to be his assistant and help him teach one of his dance classes, the two men find a common bond. Laurie finds a sense of peace in Ed's arms. Being held and anchored by the strength that Ed possesses calms the anxiety and fear that usually creeps in. Ed sees so much beauty in the gracefulness that Laurie has. Holding Laurie in his arms and leading him through a dance erases all thoughts of his injury. It makes him feel whole and strong and healthy.

Little by little their friendship turns into love. While both men have their insecurities and reservations, they can't hide how right life feels when they're together. They can no longer deny the sense of peace they feel when the other is there to center him. Their love was quiet and romantic and at times breathtaking.

"Will you let me make love to you, Laurie? Will you trust me to lead? Play with me? It'll be like a dance. There's a line we won't cross. I'm not going to fuck you tonight, Laurie. So stop worrying about it. It gives us something more to look forward to later. The tension, the anticipation, will make it sweeter. Because I want to make love to you any way you'll let me. Dance with me, Laurie."

However, their love is not the answer to their problems. All that anxiety, fear, depression, insecurity and self-doubt is lingering on the edges....waiting to swoop in just when they think they've got a grip on things. And throughout the book, it swoops, takes aim and fires.

What Laurie and Ed learn is that their love may not be the answer, but it is the catalyst and support they need to face their fears...to chase away the darkness. With that foundation, they can always find the strength to fight for the life they want.

He put in all the beauty and skill and perfection he had been taught and which he had honed, but he put in something more too, edges and colors and accents that were, he knew, gifts from Ed. Courage, wonder, enthusiasm, hope. This was not only a dance for Ed. This dance, to Laurie, WAS Ed.

This really was quite a beautiful read, but so very heavy. Told from dual POV's, I could feel every bit of sadness, anxiety and fear that Ed and Laurie felt. Heidi Cullinan created such depth that you were completely cocooned by the story. Unfortunately, there were times when I felt so weighed down that I had to take a break from reading. While I applaud her fantastic writing, it was too much for me here. There wasn't enough to balance everything out. When I finally closed my kindle, I was completely exhausted.

I really wish Goodreads had half stars because this book sits firmly at a 3.5 for me. I really did like it, but just not enough to cross over into loving it. But what I do love is the new cover!

Also, I want to mention that I could have done without the voyeuristic scene towards the end. Totally unnecessary and didn't fit the feel of the book.
863 reviews231 followers
March 5, 2013

3.5 stars

I love Ed and Laurie together. I thought their friendship was sweet. I thought their romance was sweet. I thought their love was sweet. And I thought their union was sweet.

Ed alone is a stubborn idiot who jeopardized his health because of his pride. He’s a glory-days obsessed athlete whose saving grace is his aw-shucks charm...and his love for Laurie.

Laurie alone is an ice prince who was so uptight and emotionless, I fully expected him to shit diamonds. He’s a confused coward whose saving grace is his sometimes charming insecurity...and his love for Ed.

So many times I wanted to scream to each of them “GET OVER IT!” I understand you’re damaged and you’re afraid and you’re hurt by history. But, at some point you have to GET OVER IT. THANKFULLY, it was their love for each other that helped them each and both to GET OVER IT.

I did enjoy this book immensely at parts. I also think it suffers from being too long and at points, too ridiculous (do NOT need to be picturing old men having sex in a hot tub). If it had been edited down and some unnecessary bits removed, I would have really, really loved this. In the end, it was entertaining, and the relationship between Ed & Laurie made it worth(-ish) reading.
Profile Image for Dia.
534 reviews138 followers
January 21, 2019
4,5 stars
Really loved this one. I just couldn't put it down. I enjoyed the dancing scenes as much as I enjoyed the growing attraction between the characters. We get many sweet moments but also extremely hot ones.
The writing is amazing! I got to feel the MC's pain, their struggles (depression and how to deal with physical pain). Great story!
Profile Image for Vivian.
2,847 reviews398 followers
November 9, 2015
Wonderful story about change and acceptance, and the beauty still inherent in life after things don't work out the way you first planned them. It's not a story about second chances, but metamorphosis.

Favorite quote:
With the right partner, it’s like I’m anchored, and I can do anything.”
Profile Image for Kassa.
1,118 reviews109 followers
September 22, 2011
This is a bit of a difficult review to write because while the book is decent, I didn’t particularly enjoy reading it. I’m not entirely sure why except I couldn’t connect to either character and thus never really cared about them together. Due to this the story somewhat bored me and I found myself sometimes skimming just to finish. There are a lot of great elements in the story that should work together to form a moving, memorable story. I like the individual characters but together I never really bought into their dynamic and I didn’t like some of the choices the story made. Overall this one just didn’t work for me unfortunately, but judging by the popularity of the story it might just be me.

The story follows dancer Laurie and ex-football player Ed as they try to form a life together after individual crushing disappointments. Ed is injured during a semi-pro game and has to give up football entirely. He’s stuck in a desk job he hates, living with extremely difficult and frustrating neck pain. Laurie for his part ruined his dance career after an ill-fated attempt to bring man/man ballroom dancing into the mainstream competition. The two have a lot of baggage to overcome individually, let alone together.

Like all of Cullinan’s books, Dance with Me is definitely well written with a lot of subtle emotion, nuance, and descriptive quality. There is a good bit of angst but nothing overwhelming or especially exhausting to read. Instead the story unfolds naturally as the main relationship builds piece by piece. The changes and steps make sense and feel organic as the characters move through the story. This is a character driven story where the tension is entirely internal due to the various issues between the two men. This will appeal most to those readers that like complex men with a lot of angst between them.

This is also where there are a lot of great elements. Both characters are well rounded and pretty complicated. Laurie is a very difficult, fussy kind of man that is deeply unhappy with his life but doesn’t know exactly why or how to change it. Instead he tends to alienate others with his behavior though he has a genuinely good heart at the core. For his part Ed is more the one I gravitated to and found more interesting. His difficult path is definitely hard to read at times as he struggles with a life of pain management and depression. His neck injury is one he’ll have to live with and this makes his portion of the story pretty compelling. Watching as he struggles, sometimes fails, and ultimately finds a positive path in his life is perhaps the main reason I stuck with the story. It’s moving and very engaging.

On the flip side when the two men get together is where I stumble a little bit with the story. I just couldn’t get interested in them as a couple. Their chemistry went hot and cold for me. When Laurie is describing their first time together, while Ed was drunk no less, I got chills during that scene. It’s so romantic and beautiful, yet Ed drove me nuts when he failed to say a single word. Ed’s failure to have any ability to really communicate limits his character’s likability for me. I wanted him to be more mature, more able to say something while Laurie lives in his head so much the two clash a lot with misunderstandings. This keeps the tension high and some readers will appreciate this dynamic more than I did.

I had some additional problems with the choices in the story. I didn’t particularly like any of the female characters in the story. They come across as controlling, lecturing, and very strident. Although they all come around in the end to make a happy ending, all the females up to that point are very off putting and difficult. Additionally while the characters of Oliver and Christopher are a nice addition, the last sex scene between the four of them really put me off. It feels totally out of place and awkward. I didn’t really understand what point the story was trying to convey and ultimately that sex scene made me want to drop the story entirely. Thankfully it’s close to the end but it feels like a jarring moment and out of the blue. Likewise some of the resolutions, especially Ed and Laurie dancing, don’t really feel natural or honest but instead manufactured to tack on a happy ending. Perhaps this is a more a function of the fact that I was already disconnected to the story and the later elements and scenes did nothing to re-engage me.

Trying to explain these issues feels awkward and somewhat intangible. For these reasons and others, the story and characters just didn’t work for me. It’s well written and definitely a story I can see striking a chord with readers. I’m just sorry it didn’t with me. Perhaps next time.
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 76 books2,535 followers
October 6, 2011
I really liked the way Cullinan wrote a character who has a borderline disability, living in that grey zone where normal life should be possible but the injury sometimes brings normal crashing down. The characters and the relationship in this story really worked for me. The supportive football players were a nice (if slightly optimistic) touch. There was a little more "I'm not good enough for him" agonizing than I prefer as the motivator for some of the conflicts between these two men. But in the context of this story, self-doubt was reasonable. And I appreciated that the ending was about learning to live with real life constraints and not somehow ending up all healed and perfect. This will be a reread for me.
Profile Image for Optimist ♰King's Wench♰.
1,770 reviews3,864 followers
October 8, 2018
I guess the old adage is true... it's never as great the second time around.

I still love Ed and Laurie but I didn't enjoy this as much as I did when I read it originally in 2015. I had forgotten how much pain Ed was in constantly and how that pain took over the narrative. I also forgot how early on the pain seeped in and took over.

I remembered the dancing and how much Ed loves it and takes to it and I still really enjoyed that part as well as their connection. Laurie may be a bit fussy but he loves Ed with his whole heart, something he proves over and over again with his devotion even when things are difficult between them.

Iggy Toma did a good job distinguishing between the characters and emoted pretty well but he didn't blow me away.
Profile Image for Richard.
180 reviews18 followers
April 9, 2015
If you want to read about 2 twentysomethings in a foursome with 2 old men, one of them the uncle. This is your book.

Why do I continue to read this author writer garbage.

Ever reminding me, by woman for women but about me.
But I am convinced Cullinan has never met a gay male.

Profile Image for Nikyta.
1,411 reviews255 followers
August 9, 2011
This was an amazingly beautiful book. It's angsty but it's not too angsty. It has descriptions that make you feel like you are actually experiencing each incident, each dance. It has so much sexual tension, you can feel it coming off the pages. And it's such a heartwarmingly sweet story, I just couldn't put it down.

I loved how this story progressed. It's a slow development in not just the emotional aspect of things but also the physical and mental aspects as well. It's different from Cullinan's other works. They went from hating each other to tolerating each other enough to dance together. To being shy and hesitant to being passionate together. They go through a lot concerning both their past challenges and they grow together, helping each other come to terms and accept what has happened to them. It's very touching.

I loved both these characters. I literally fell in love with them from the start. They both hate each other because of various reasons but mostly because they consider the other to be the stereotypical gay man and jock. Laurie is feminine-like with his actions and his looks while Ed is the jock, big and beefy with a sardonic humor. However, they find out sooner rather than later there is much more to them than meets the eye. I absolutely loved how cute Ed is when he's drunk because he's stubborn and challenging and just lays it all out for Laurie and how much he desires Laurie (and in case you are thinking, no, Ed is not an alcoholic. It's just one scene. One very, very cute scene). It was so sweet how Laurie cared enough for Ed to drop anything and everything he was doing to come to Ed's aid if he thought Ed was hurt or in pain. I had this little smile stuck on my lips throughout the whole story because of the little things they did for each other.

This is one of those books, at least in my eyes, that's about self-discovery and acceptance. Ed and Laurie both lost something dear to them and when they get together they discover the joy they were both missing in their lives. They deal with the troubles caused by their painful past and they find a way to live with what the side-effects and consequences are. They, reluctantly, pushed past their fears and embraced their new lives together. This is also one of those books where there are a few sex scenes but it doesn't feel like there is a lot at all. It fits perfectly with this story, with the slow developing relationship so the feelings can grow and actually feel genuine to the reader. The eventual realizations on both their parts about their relationship, their feelings, their past, their acceptance and finally their desire to move past it all and be together was a bumpy, painful ride but an enthralling one to experience, in my opinion.

I absolutely loved this book. It's one of the best I've read this year. It made me tear up, it made me laugh, it made me ache for these characters and it made me smile throughout it. I only cried happy tears and felt sympathy for what these two have gone through but in the end, I was just about bursting with joy because of how it ends. It has one of the most sweetest endings I've ever read

All in all, this was a beautiful book. It's sweet and funny, heartwarming and captivating. I wouldn't mind reading more about Laurie and Ed, although it did end perfectly. These characters are both flawed. They aren't perfect and they make mistakes but it was definitely a wonderful journey seeing how they overcame everything. In my opinion, it's a must read for everyone whether you like this genre or not, give it a try.
Profile Image for Denise H..
2,955 reviews218 followers
October 19, 2016
***** Amazingly beautiful M/M romance !!! ***** Ed volunteers at the center to teach weightlifting for teens. Laurie/Laurence/Laur is a famous ballet dancer who also teaches dance classes. With budget cuts the center's sound system leaves a lot to be desired. It is the arguments over the sound that brings Ed and Laurence together. To get the music off, Ed agrees to do anything Laur requires in return. Well, now he'll be helping instruct ballroom dance classes !

This novel has deeply thought-filled characters, an interesting flow, and terrific hot sexiness. Yum. Ed has a neck injury from football, that is causing an upheaval in his life. Laurie has his own demons from an embarrassing dance event. Together they dance and find incredible stability for each other. They thrive in each others arms and on the dance floor. Beautifully written tale from Heidi Cullinan, and my first from this author. I loved it !! They deal with family, friends, and the world.
Smoothly paced, absorbing, realistic and emotional, this story will keep you captivated. Highly recommend. ENJOY !!!
Profile Image for Ami.
5,863 reviews497 followers
August 21, 2011
4.5 stars
I have never read anything by Ms. Cullinan before; her other stories' blurbs did not appeal to me. However, this one does. I like stories about dancers. I like to watch movies about dance. I still remember one ballet movie starring Mikhail Baryshnikov. "Fame" was one show, whose episodes I never missed (love Debbie Allen's choreography).

This one is short of PERFECT and touches me in all the right places. First, the opposite attract. They come from two different spectrum in life. Ed is a blue collar class and Laurie is from the rich class. Second, the progress of the story. How the two men starts from hating each other, having a cliché perception about the other (Ed is an ex-football player, Laurie is a dancer), then they learn that they actually having more things in common (other than how dancing makes them feel good), and they grow together because of that. THAT is a beauty of a story, where characters develop, that when the ending comes, both Ed and Laurie are not the same two men in the beginning. They are better because they find themselves in their love.

There are so many things I love here, that makes me smile (Ed is NOT a good drunk *lol*), laugh (that one scene where Ed cleans his apartment is just hilarious) and choke up in tears because it's so emotional. I must admit that I love Ed better than Laurie. He is so adorable. He breaks every single perceptions that Laurie has for him. He is so strong and warm, and even if he is bull-headed regarding his disability, he never comes to the point of annoying me. Ed brings Laurie into the light ... and that dance scene on Christmas Day is one that squeezed my heart. Then the ending, oh, the ending, I have my eyes all teary with that. It's perfect, just perfect, a cherry on top of delicious ice cream.

The only niggle that dents the story for me is one scene (). I know that this shouldn't matter because it's one tiny scene and it shouldn't be that significant to the whole scene but it makes me uncomfortable. I can't just let that one go.

Despite the niggle, this book is one that I love so much. A story of journey between two man ... and a testament of acceptance. When you accept what you are, what you can do, and you have someone who love you for that, ready to do the journey with you, well, you can soar high above the sky ...
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