I took too long to write this review (I finished this book several weeks ago now), so it won’t be a thorough as I would like. But, it was just too enjoyable not to share. This book told my favorite kind of story. A story of grown ups learning to love and live with each other, and how they support each other through life’s problems.
Laurie Parker was a world class ballet dancer until he decided to try ballroom dancing in competition with another man. He now hides away teaching at a small studio that he owns and teaching aerobics to senior citizens at the local community center. Ed Maurer works for an insurance (?) company and until recently played semi-professional football. Ed suffered a neck injury that ended his football career and his only outlet from his boring job is that he has started teaching a weight lifting class to at-risk teens at the same community center.
Ed and Laurie are very different people, but they are both openly gay men in their 30s. Ed hooks up sometimes and doesn’t really date, and Laurie, while openly gay, is struggling with his identity a little more and also doesn’t date. But they find each other, find they enjoy dancing together, and quickly find out that they really like each other as people, even though they are very different people. I liked the balance of the book. Maybe 1/3 is them getting over their opposites attract issues and learning to appreciate each other. The other 2/3 is them being supportive of each other and learning how to be together. Laurie is working out whether he will ever dance professionally again, and Ed is trying to figure out his identity if he is no longer able to play sports. Only through the unfailing support of each other are they able to work through their individual problems. It was a beautiful and grown-up love story.
My one warning – there is a scene maybe 75%(?) of the way through that made me squirm. It was veering towards ménage, and ended up only being exhibitionism, but I found it really yucky. I do not consider myself a prude (but maybe I am?), and have read ménage books before. But, that type of thing doesn’t usually come out of nowhere, and you know what you are getting when you pick up the book. This scene came as a surprise to me. I know what the author was trying to convey with it, but one of the hallmarks of their relationship was the privacy of it, so I felt like it intruded in the story and was just yuck.
I have read one other book by Cullinan (Love Lessons), and this one was much more my speed.