A Free Dreamer Review: Such a Dance by Kate McMurray


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

When a vaudeville dancer meets a sexy mobster in a speakeasy for men, the sparks fly, the gin flows, the jazz sizzles—and the heat is on…

New York City, 1927.

Such a Dance coverEddie Cotton is a talented song-and-dance man with a sassy sidekick, a crowd-pleasing act, and a promising future on Broadway. What he doesn’t have is someone to love. Being gay in an era of prohibition and police raids, Eddie doesn’t have many opportunities to meet men like himself—until he discovers a hot new jazz club for gentlemen of a certain bent…and sets eyes on the most seductive, and dangerous, man he’s ever seen.

Lane Carillo is a handsome young Sicilian who looks like Valentino—and works for the Mob. He’s never hidden his sexuality from his boss, which is why he was chosen to run a private night club for men. When Lane spots Eddie at the bar, it’s lust at first sight. Soon, the unlikely pair are falling hard and fast—in love. But when their whirlwind romance starts raising eyebrows all across town, Lane and Eddie have to decide if their relationship is doomed…or something special worth fighting for.

Meet Eddie, a Broadway starlet in 1927, NYC. He’s gay and fine with it, but if the truth about his sexuality ever got out, his career would be over. Because you just aren’t openly gay in this day and age. Sure, it’s an open secret that many of the men working in the theatres on Broadway are gay, but actually knowing that a somewhat famous man like Eddie is queer would be something else. But Eddie is fine with that. After all, queer men don’t fall in love, right? So when the mood strikes him, he buys some company for the night and goes back to his normal life the next day.

Lane is a mobster and gets bullied into running a speakeasy for queer men. His boss believes he’s the man for the job because of his peculiar tastes. Just like Eddie, Lane prefers men, but unlike Eddie, he knows that queer men can and do fall in love. First, Lane isn’t too fond of having to run a speakeasy. But then he decides to make the best of it and create a safe haven for men like him, which easier said than done. Being queer is illegal and serving alcohol is as well. In order to remain in business and out of jail, he regularly bribes the police officer who seems to have taken a special interest in this particular speakeasy.

When Eddie and Lane meet in Lane’s speakeasy, there’s an instant spark of attraction. But how can there ever be more than that, when Eddie’s so convinced love between queer men doesn’t exist and being seen anywhere near the speakeasy is a very real threat to his career? Because Eddie is married to his career and loves his show. And when Lane faces trouble with his suppliers and the officer keeps asking for more and more money, the clock starts ticking.

“Such a Dance” is definitely very unique. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a book with a similar setting and I’ve most definitely never read anything like it. I was hooked from the very beginning.

I loved reading about Eddie’s work. He lives to perform. It’s a little sad to watch how lonely he is in the beginning, even if he keeps telling himself that his career is the only thing that matters and that he can’t fall in love anyway.

Lane was also quite intriguing. He has such a sad past and it’s inspiring how he gets over it and falls for Eddie. I liked that he wasn’t completely callous about his work in the mafia but at the same time wasn’t all broken over it either.

The setting of the speakeasy felt very real to me. It was like I was on the dance floor with Eddie, showing the men how to do Charleston. Or sitting with Lane and watching Eddie dance. I could practically hear the jazz, smell the cigarette smoke and taste the gin.

The tone was very realistic. There was no magic pocket of firmly tolerant people surrounding Eddie and Lane so they could live happily despite everything. No, they had to face homophobia and were slightly racist themselves. They weren’t extremely racist, but there was the occasional casual remark that just fit with the opinion of black people back then. Like when Lane talks about a black musician and says that the man is good, “even though he’s a negro.” That’s just how people back then were and more often than not, historical novels tend to gloss that part over, making only the antagonists racist and intolerant.

There was plenty of plot outside the romance, which is something I highly appreciate. We get to see Eddie perform and read about Lane’s trouble with running the speakeasy. We also get to read about the difficulties they face eventually, because obviously they can’t live like this forever. This could’ve easily turned into an extremely angsty read, but it didn’t. Sure, there are some dark elements, but the author doesn’t focus on those. There is homophobia, but it’s not the main theme. Both protagonists have had their fair share of trouble in the past, but again the author doesn’t focus on that. Instead, the plot focuses on the here and now, on the happy parts as well as the darker parts. It’s perfectly balanced.

Still, sometimes it kind of missed a certain something. I can’t even say what it was exactly, but the book somehow missed some spark to make it not just really good, but absolutely amazing. That’s why I decided to give this “only” 4.5 stars, and not the full 5.

Overall, “Such a Dance” is a very unique, realistic historical novel that I enjoyed very much. The setting is extremely well done, there’s plenty of plot outside the romance and the characters are very interesting. I really enjoyed this novel, even if I felt there was a bit of a spark missing at times. I’m definitely going to read more by this author and would love to read more about this time period, which previously didn’t interest me at all.

Cover Art: I have a kind of love-hate relationship with the cover by Ellen B. Wright. When I first looked at it, I thought it was kind of ugly and rather generic. Then I read the book, looked at it again and suddenly realized that this is Eddie, right out of a scene from the book. So now I actually think it’s great, even if it’s still kind of ugly.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details: ebook, 320 pages
Expected publication: October 27th 2015 by Lyrical Press
ISBN:  9781616507992

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