Enjoy the Dance (Dancing Book 2)

Enjoy the Dance (Dancing Book 2) - Heidi Cullinan Review originally posted at Sinfully.

Enjoy the Dance is set in Minnesota in 2012, an election year and also the year DOMA was being fought and Minnesota was in the midst of a battle over the legalization of same sex marriage. These are not the only social issues that Heidi Cullinan dives into in the story; she also places an emphasis on immigration issues and the foster care system, especially as it relates to LGBTQ children and persons of color.

This story has a very different feel to it than Dance with Me. While that focused solely on the romance between Ed and Laurie, this story has more of a romantic fiction feel to it. The romance is subdued as bigger issues surround it. Kindergarten teacher Spenser and dance teacher/barista/custodian Tomás fall in love as they care for Duon, a teenage dance student who is kicked out of his grandmother’s house. For reasons of his own, Spenser agrees to take in Duon since, for his own completely different reasons, Tomás isn’t able to offer him that help. As the men get to know each other and fall in love, they face one hurdle after another in their personal and professional lives. The romance itself comes rather easily, it’s the outside issues that threaten to bring everything crashing down.

There were a couple of occasions where a conversation turned on a dime to take the tone of a lecture on the struggle for marriage equality and immigration and foster system reform, and it did take me out of the story. But other than those few times I thought the issues were integrated well into the story. Each character had a different angle they were approaching from so while they all were striving for the same outcome, they had a different take on things. Spenser as a child of the foster system who is still afraid to hope for a home and a family, Ed and Laurie as husbands whose marriage and rights are at stake and Tomás, an American citizen whose parents are undocumented, is trying to keep his family together while fearing deportation and losing his nieces and nephews to the foster care system. Even with all of this going on, the book doesn’t get too heavy and there is the author’s trademark happy for everyone ending.

There is a romance and Spenser and Tomás, when they actually find time to be with each other, are a sweet and sexy pair. Whether it’s Tomás trying to get Spenser to lighten up and dance or Spenser cooking for Tomás, it’s clear they both are looking for the same thing; someone to have a future with. Tomás gets dating advice from his mother who thinks he needs to court Spenser and is not above cockblocking her son with a plate of empanadas and homemade ice cream. When Tomás and Spenser do finally get together, it’s passionate with plenty of chemistry, a bit of the dirty talk Heidi Cullinan does so well and also some very tender loving.

While this is a follow-up to [b:Dance With Me|26153131|Dance With Me (Dancing, #1)|Heidi Cullinan|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1440366843s/26153131.jpg|16423496], and Duon, Ed, Laurie and some other secondary characters were introduced there, this can easily be read as a standalone (but I would urge you to read Dance With Me anyway as it’s a wonderful story). Other than those few bumps I mentioned, I was invested in all the characters and was really rooting for everything to work out.

Yes, there is a clear political bent to this story and some readers may not like that at all. I think if you go into this knowing that it is not a full on romance like the first, but rather a story that weaves the romance in to the bigger tale of finding family, fighting for what you believe in and a nod to the difficulties many people face in trying to get to that happy ending, you will find plenty to enjoy in it.