Review: Dance With Me

Dance With Me
Dance With Me by Heidi Cullinan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

~one review in the #diverseromancebingo for the category “physically disabled” ~

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.

Without doubt this was one of the best stories I read in the last quarter of 2016. When I decided to attend in the #diverseromancebingo I looked up several titles/recommendations. I was happy to see that this book on my TBR list was fitting this category because I was excited to finally read the book.

The story about Ed and Laurie is touching and itself magical. I didn’t know what I could expect because Heidi Cullinan was a debut author for me. 🙂 I gladly received the ARC for the second book in the series – Enjoy the Dance – before I read this book. 😀 I saw the cover and was mesmerized. I can’t even stop looking at it right now and it’s truly on of my most beloved cover in general. The cover is summing up the story but also catches your eye. Have a look at the cover a little down the entry, where I post a larger picture of it. :3 ❤

When I read the blurb of the book I instantly knew: this will break my heart. And it did. It shattered but it was put together. Heidi’s style of writing was marvelous, you almost flow through the pages, as easily as Laurie moved to the music and while he is dancing, Heidi developed the reader a great world.

I took several quotes while reading, the first line which hook me was the quote by one great author – one I adore incandescently 😉 ❤ – Jane Austen

To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love  – Jane Austen

This line did it: I couldn’t stop reading.

But the charm went on and I cracked up when I read about Ed’s secret passion: listening to a well-known pop queen. 😉

Fumbling through the music between glances at the street, he punched at the machine until he found the song he wanted. He didn’t calm until a breathy voice declared, “It’s Britney, bitch.”

Ed is such a warm, sweet character. A burly kind of man with a kind heart and soul. It’s heart clenching to see him almost beaten several times during the book.

Despite the hard times Ed had to go through the constant humor Heidi had started the book with was constantly there; another favourite line was this:

“Laurie,” Laurie corrected softly as Ed sashayed out the door.

I don’t know any author who used the word sashayed in a book. I really laughed out loud when I read this. At this part I was at 13% and I was in love with Laurie and Ed.

The true and beautiful soul of the both characters revealed soon after this. When Ed watched the first performance of Laurie, not only he was mesmerized. With natural grace and with flowing words – so gracefully presented by the author – you could really see and feel the movements. You also shared Ed’s thoughts at this point. Laurie was beautiful while dancing, he was a creature beyond everything. I admit I would die for having a movie/ series adaption to this book series. ❤

But beyond the beauty Laurie showed Ed and the reader, soon a fierce soul was shown: he teached strictly, another memorable line was this one:

“Absolutely no slouching, Ed. You’re the frame. You’re the stem to my flower. Quit giving me crooked pictures and wilted flowers.”

You see Laurie’s fierceness, his strong will to let Ed explore what he feel during the dance. Also there is the need of relying on each other. The utmost trust is demanded by Laurie. Something both explore while they learn to dance with and along each other. :3 ❤ Laurie makes this clear, when he said:

“We will dance, and in the dance we will have the beauty life has denied us.”

Like a flower growing the love for each other also grew, but along all the happiness the dark parts sometimes overflowed. It was hard to see Ed dealing with his physical diability, the burly guy who had a dream – having a great career in sports, in football – had to be careful and who constantly undergoes pain otherwise he risks to be disabled in a more dangerous way. It was hard for the reader to see the smart man so down, almost beaten and with less hope. Depression crawled into the both guy’s life slowly… The constant awareness, the need of taking medicine, of not being able to really live, to endure pain, struggles and vexations. Hard for a proud man like Ed to endure help, to accept it. Which is a constant troubling part for Ed when he is near his bottom.

Laurie also dealt with his own issues. His permanent believe in failing – failing to dance professionally, not even to crash his own career but also the one of his former dance partner – is a huge weight on him and leads into self-consciousness. A vicious circle of fool thoughts – for both men.

On the other hand, along all the negative parts of the book the character had to go though, you – as a reader – feel happiness, lightness and hope while reading. The quotes, especially the following one helped me through a moody day, and I guess the whole topic itself helps in more severe struggles, too.

It was more than seeing into Laurie’s soul. It was as if, by watching Laurie dance, he could see into all souls. Into the power of the body. Into the aching beauty and thrill movement. Into the grace and wonder of the human form. When he watched Laurie, he believed. In everything.

The hope Ed feels in this part of the book, the love he feels for Laurie is a light slap at the reader’s face who maybe lost hope in some parts of his life. He, Ed, with all his pain, is watching something so beautiful, so graceful  – and even participate in this with dancing on his own, with his partner. The hope goes from Ed to the reader. ❤ So even if Ed is physically diabled in some parts, he isn’t totally immobile, which let him act cautiously but he can do something he loves: dancing. Together with Laurie.

For all I can say, the book was a revelation in so many parts. I can write more about it but I will stop at this point. I can highly  – from the bottom of the heart – recommend the book. Not that only the book shows the dealings with a physical disability, no, it also shows the side effects of such a life-changing thing. But is shows also the deep love human beings are capable of, also the will to endure things in order to receive the happiness, to go strengthened through a rough time of life, even if it means to have bruises and left with ugly, unchangeable parts. At least it’s what the book gave me. 🙂 ❤ And I thank Heidi for writing such a wonderful book. :3

5 out of 5 stars


View all my reviews

Have a look a the cover in a bigger size


RELEASE DATE: August 29, 2015
Format: Novel • Genre: Contemporary • Length: 94,000 words
Publisher: Heidi Cullinan
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9961203-2-6
Print ISBN: 978-0-9961203-3-3
Characters: Ed Maurer, Laurie Parker

Also read the excerpt for a greater insight.
For those who have spotify and love playlists, have a look  at this.

Information About the Book

  • First edition publisher:  Loose Id, July 26, 2011
  • Though this book has been re-edited for the second addition, it has not been materially changed. Readers who wish to keep their original copy are not missing anything significant in the new version.
  • The main characters in this book have been known to cameo directly and indirectly in other books. Look for them in the background at Matt’s Bar in Fever Pitch, referenced as help for the town festival in Sleigh Ride, by name for the same in Winter Wonderland, and as active secondary characters in Lonely Hearts.

History of the Dancing Series

Dance With Me for years was a standalone title. First published with Loose Id in 2011, it was re-released as a self-published title in fall of 2015. I’d originally intended to follow it up with a short story a few months later, but that short story became this novel, Enjoy the Dance.

Future Plans for the Series

There will be at least one more novel in the Dancing series, likely released in late 2017 or early 2018. Burn the Floor will be Duon’s story.

Series Tie-Ins

Several other books/series I’ve written tie in directly or tangentially into this story.

  • Marcus, Ed and Laurie’s lawyer friend who helps Tomás and his family, finds his own HEA in Let It Snow, book one of the Minnesota Christmas series
  • Arthur and Paul, Marcus’s friends from Logan who show up at the Duluth car wrapping, find their true loves in Sleigh Ride and Winter Wonderland, books two and three of the Minnesota Christmas series.
  • Ed and Laurie appear in Lonely Hearts, book three of the Love Lessons series.

And also if I already put enough quotes in this entry have a look at these teaser pictures:

Source of all materials:


4 thoughts on “Review: Dance With Me

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