tl;dr: great friends with benefits story that has a bit of a draggy middle
Dance With Me picks up a few months after the end of Take The Lead, and brings us to Natasha’s life post-Gina. The first book in this series ends with Gina, Natasha’s roommate, best friend, and coworker on The Dance Off (a fictional Dancing with the Stars analog) leaving behind the realm of reality TV to star in a Broadway musical and hop around the world with her former dance partner and lover, Stone. It becomes clear pretty early on in the book that Natasha depended on Gina for a lot of things, and now that her support system is gone, she’s scrambling to pick up the pieces of her life and make her own way.
Natasha feels her life caving in on itself when the roof of her apartment literally caves in, destroying much of her clothing and furniture and leaving her home unlivable. She is struggling to pay her bills, she’s teaching half a dozen (or more) dance classes, and she keeps making questionable choices regarding money and men. When her frequent booty call partner, Dimitri, calls her up in the middle of her cleaning up the wreckage of her apartment, she snaps at him, something she doesn’t tend to do.
So Dimitri shows up at her place, hoping to use the opportunity to show her that he’s more than a good time guy. He convinces her to move into his giant house and lavishes her with attention, although he continually puts his foot in his mouth and makes her feel like a tramp. Natasha is nervous about the whole arrangement, because if word gets to the producers of The Dance Off about her shacking up with not only a coworker, but one of the judges, she’ll be in danger of losing her job.
While I still enjoyed this novel a lot, I felt that a lot of the things that kept the story flowing in Take The Lead were absent here. There were a lot of moments where I kept wondering how the story would be able to continue on, as I was barely halfway and it seemed to be headed toward a quick resolution. The plotting in the middle of the book was slow, and there were times that it had a hard time maintaining my interest.
Another part that was tedious was the constant inner monologues of the characters, and in particular, Natasha. She frequently seemed to be overthinking her situation in a way that just kind of dragged on and on, and frankly, wasn’t interesting to read about.
Another weird aspect that I noticed from this book was that it seems like all the protagonists are falling away from the show. I think it would be interesting to read about a couple who stick with The Dance Off. This book also takes place in between seasons and so the show itself is more of an afterthought than the setting.
While this book isn’t as strong as the previous book, it’s still pretty awesome. The relationship between Natasha and Dimitri works well, especially when you take it from a combative friends with benefits relationship where Natasha feels drawn to him despite the not-so-nice things he says. We also get the other side, where Dimitri doesn’t realize he’s being a jerk.
This book is unavailable at libraries, but you can check back here to see if that changes!
Looking for other friends with benefits turned HEA stories? The Wedding Date Bargain has a great friends to lovers story.