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.
Yeah, I know. I'm giving a Heidi Cullinan novel only 3 stars. It's not a bad book at all. It's actually pretty good. But, while there was some romance, it really did play second fiddle to the political and social justice issues in the story. The subject matter is important and it is something I care a lot about, but I really wanted the romance and, like Laurie, I'm pretty burned out on politics at the moment. So, while Enjoy the Dance is a good story, and I liked the characters and am happy that they all found their happy, I'm also not likely to read it again.
That said, Heidi Cullinan does know how to draw you into the story and I did enjoy reading it. I loved getting to visit with Ed & Laurie again (because I love love love them) and I'm happy that Duon found a home with Spenser. I think both Duon and Spenser needed a family and I'm glad they both found that.
Enjoy the Dance starts out in 2012, so the timeline is before the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality and also before the author's Minnesota Christmas series (Marcus shows up in this story before he moves back to Logan).
Spenser was a cautious guy. He teaches kindergarten at a conservative private school where the principal pressures everyone to not just oppose any kind of marriage equality, but also to get involved to put a stop to it. Because of the workplace climate, Spenser is not out at work because it could cost him his job. This is a position no one should ever be put in.
Tomás lives in an apartment across from Spenser. He works way harder than he should have to, to support his parents, who are undocumented, and his sister's kids. One of his jobs is teaching dance at Laurie's St. Paul studio. And that is how Duon knows him.
Enjoy the Dance centers around Tomás, Spenser and Duon creating a family during a time when some folks in Minnesota were trying to invalidate all but the most 'traditional' family unit. And if that wasn't enough to deal with, INS wants to deport Tomás's parents because they are undocumented. Plus there are uncertainties about Spenser's job and his and Tomás' status as foster parents, once they embark on a serious relationship and adoption. In the conservatives quest to 'think of the children', it is the children who suffer the most because they are but pawns in that political game. There are so many potential homes out there and people who would happily foster or adopt, if only they could.
So, that is what Enjoy the Dance is all about. The bigger picture. And figuring out your place in it. And it's about family. Both the kind you're born into and the kind you make yourself. It's about facing your past, so you can look to the future. And all that is important stuff. But I really missed the romance. And the steam. But mostly the romance.
ARC of Enjoy the Dance was generously provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.