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Book CoverKristie J’s review of Take the Lead (Dance Off, Book 1) by Alexis Daria
Contemporary Romance published by Swerve 17 Oct 17

You have to know it’s not going to be good when I start a review with “Oh dear.”

This book started out so good.  Gina Morales is a professional dancer on the reality show The Dance Off.  Just think Dancing with the Stars, ‘cause that’s what is really.  She’s been partnered up with Stone Neilson, a reality star himself.  He and his family live and work in Alaska and star in a kind of wilderness, living-off-the-land show.  Stone really doesn’t want to do it, but he needs the money he will earn to help with medical bills his mother racked up.

They first meet when she travels to Alaska, and they are drawn to each other.  Weeks later Stone relocates to L.A. during the filming.  At first he doesn’t take it seriously, but once he realizes what’s at stake for Gina, he goes all in and does his best for her to help make sure she makes the finals.  The outline covers the basics, so I’m going to go into my “oh dear.”

Stone is great.  I really like him as a hero.  He’s the strong, silent kind.  And I started off liking Gina, but as the book went on, I began to dislike her more and more – until I reached the point I loathed her.  I know this is a book and not real life and she’s just a fictional character, but I’m going to say what was going on in my head as I went further and further into the book.  Here goes:

“Oh, get over yourself!!  You’re so ‘concerned’ that your peers won’t take you seriously if they find out that you’ve become involved with a really great guy who really cares about you.  You spend a lot of time working with him and teaching a non-dancer how to dance, so it’s not at all surprising or unprofessional that feelings have developed.  I doubt your peers would be the least bit ‘concerned.’ Besides, you stupid bint – you work on a CHEESY REALITY SHOW.”

Hey, while I don’t watch every season of DWTS, not by a long shot, but if there is someone interesting on what I think to myself as “Dancing with the D Listers” I can enjoy the cheesiness of it.  And I’m sure your “peers” would think less of you for choreographing a ‘strip tease’ dance you insist your partner do, even though he doesn’t want to.  But since he’s a great guy who puts you first, he does it anyway.

“And, by the way, there are two of you in this clandestine relationship who are putting you first, Stone and YOU.  So who is caring about Stone, ‘cause it’s clearly not you.  Ugghh.  What he sees in you is beyond me.”

And if Stone was a real person and this was real life, I’d be so tempted to say to him: “I have a song I want you to sing to this selfish woman you are gone for.”

Ooh, slip out the back, Jack.
Make a new plan, Stan.
You don’t need to be coy, Roy.
Just listen to me.
Hop on the bus, Gus,
You don’t need to discuss much.
Just drop off the key, Lee,
And get yourself free

“‘Cause the girl ain’t never going to put you ahead of herself.”

I’ve read books where I’ve started out not liking the heroine, but if the author is skilled and I see change and character growth, I can grow to love her. But it’s very rare where I start out really liking a heroine but hate her by the end.  I finished the book but only because Stone was worth it.

fairy_in_a_field3_400x400Grade: D


Gina Morales wants to win. It’s her fifth season on The Dance Off, a top-rated network TV celebrity dance competition, and she’s never even made it to the finals. When she meets her latest partner, she sees her chance. He’s handsome, rippling with muscles, and he stars on the popular Alaskan wilderness reality show Living Wild. With his sexy physique and name recognition, she thinks he’s her ticket to the finals—until she realizes they’re being set up.

Stone Nielson hates Los Angeles, he hates reality TV, and he hates that fact that he had to join the cast of the The Dance Off because of family obligations. He can’t wait to get back to Alaska, but he also can’t deny his growing attraction to his bubbly Puerto Rican dance partner. Neither of them are looking for romantic entanglements, and Stone can’t risk revealing his secrets, but as they heat up the dance floor, it’s only a matter of time until he feels an overwhelming urge to take the lead.

When the tabloids catch on to their developing romance, the spotlight threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their careers and their shot at the trophy. Gina and Stone will have to decide if their priorities lie with fame, fortune, or the chance at a future together.

No excerpt available.

Other books in this series:

Book Cover