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Take the Lead

(Dance Off #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,202 ratings  ·  253 reviews
The first book in a sizzling duology about dancers who find love from #OwnVoice's Alexis Daria.

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 pop
Kindle Edition, 321 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Swerve
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Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,202 ratings  ·  253 reviews

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Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
In the UK we call it Strictly Come Dancing, across the pond it’s Dancing With the Stars, but whatever name it goes by, if there’s glitter, sequins, fleckerls, foxtrots and fake tan involved I. AM. THERE. So a romance centralising around all this?


No stranger to reality TV, gorgeous 6’7 bearded Alaskan wilderness star, Stone Nielson is more at home chopping wood than shimmying his hips. But when he’s partnered with LA based pro dancer, Gina Morales on The Dance Off, it’s not long before she coaxe
Mirjana **DTR - Down to Read**

***4 Stars***

Loved this debut!

Puerto Rican professional dancer + Mountain man reality star + dance competition = One happy reader!! ♥ ♥

"You light me up. You helped me remember who I was before, and see clearly who I am now and who I want to be."

Gina and Stone were fantastic together. Both dealing with unwanted expectations and trying to break free from the molds the public put them in, they find comfort and so much more with each other.

Gina has dreams. She wants to dance, sing, an
Maria Rose
2018 RITA Award winner for Best First Book!

If you’re a fan of Dancing with the Stars or other reality TV show dance competitions you are definitely going to want to pick up Take the Lead, a lively, energetic and sexy contemporary romance by début author Alexis Daria. And if you’ve never watched one of these competitions before, after reading this story you’ll likely want to add it to your viewing schedule. The plot is fresh and original, giving the reader almost a voyeuristic behind the scenes
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

This is one of those books that has received a lot of advanced praise - Sarah MacLean called it one of the best romance novels of 2017 - and yet, there's hardly any reviews for it on Goodreads. What the heck, my readers? What the heck?


TAKE THE LEAD is a good book for many reasons. It's set on a Dancing with the Stars-type reality TV show. Gina is a Puerto Rican dancer who has dreamed of and
Joce (squibblesreads)
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Here's the link to my video review!

A ton of fun but also important and layered. First of all, I used to dance and it was such a huge part of my life and I felt like that was portrayed well. I also am a sucker for dance-based reality TV so this book was basically made for me. I loved how it talked about being a Latina woman in the entertainment industry (Gina is a Puerto Rican woman, as well as Natasha who book #2, Dance with Me, is written about), and how she feels typecast and pigeonholed into
Anne Boleyn's Ghost
Take the Lead won the RITA award for "Best First Book", and it is easy to see why. It was a wickedly fun and entertaining read.

For the most part, I hate reality TV. I have a lot of reasons why I hate reality TV, but this is a book review and not a rant about reality TV. Considering the subject matter - a romance between Gina, a Puerto Rican dancer on a reality TV dancing competition, and her partner Stone, who stars on an Alaskan wilderness reality TV show - you can imagine my reluctance. But D
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Listen. Take the Lead by Alexis Daria is perfect. PER.FECT. I loved this book. I want to take this book out behind the high school and make out with it. This book was goddamn good that after I finished reading it, I spent the rest of the day watching Strictly Ballroom, the Step Up movies, and Magic Mike. This book made me want to sign up for dance lessons----and I am a white girl with NO rhythm! I clap on the wrong beat and my husband jokes I need a walking helmet! I’d sooner give up romance and ...more
Rebekah Weatherspoon
A wonderful debut. I worked in reality TV for a long time and Daria nailed the ins and outs of working on a show like Dancing With The Stars. Looking forward to the next installment.
Xan West
A copy was provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

I loved this! It was completely gripping; I stayed up way too late last night because I could not put it down.

I loved these characters so much, fell hard for them both, and particularly for Gina. I was rooting for them all the way, as a couple, as dance partners. I wanted them to get a happy ending. The obstacles and conflict felt so right, they unfolded in a beautiful way.

The heroine is Puerto Rican, and I
Ⓐlleskelle - That ranting lady ッ

So here's the thing. I don't like Dancing With The Stars.
I really don't care for it. At. All.
And yet I picked this book.
And furthermore... I'M LOVING IT.

I picked it up because that hooker, Geri from Dirty Girl Romance Book Blog was reading book 2 ('Dance With Me' releases December 12th - and completely sold me on the idea of a romance between DWTS co-stars.

I mean, although not a fan of the show, I always wondered about dancers acting so in tune and showing off scorching c
Skye Kilaen
Of all the romance novels I've read, this one best qualifies for the title "beach read," and I don't mean that in a bad way. It's a passionate romance between two contestants on a dance competition reality show. Stone Nielsen is an improbably tall (see note below) star of an Alaskan outdoorsy reality show. Gina Morales a Puerto Rican professional dancer who will be his partner and dance teacher for his guest stint on The Dance Off.

If you're looking for something lightweight and entertaining, thi
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I had mixed feelings about this book.

At the beginning, I kept thinking that I need more than just physical attraction for romance to work for me. I even contemplated DNFing this book.

But later on, story took the right turn and I could do nothing else but sit back and enjoy the sizzling chemistry between main duo. I didn't even mind (that much) occasional clichés and cheesiness that accompanied the story.

Moreover, I found setting very interesting. I am not a fan of real Dance with the Stars sho
Sam (AMNReader)
There were so many hopeful glimmers in this book, to the point where I thought I'd be reading a little gem-sneaky diversity with a Brooklyn dancer who is Puerto Rican trying to dodge stereotypes and a reality tv star (formerly engineer) who lives with his family remotely in Alaska.

And, I'm going to be honest up front. The strong silent act on the part of the hero troubled me to the point where I didn't really understand their connection in a meaningful way. I also kept thinking of that family on
Olivia (Stories For Coffee)
I really enjoyed reading this novel because I love dance competitions, so this book really won me over. I also enjoyed the Puerto Rican culture that’s woven into the story since Gina is a Puerto Rican main character whose ethnicity and culture is very important to her. Her drive to break stereotypes placed on Latinas was like a breath of fresh air to me because I related so hard to her character and everything she stood for which was hard work, perseverance, and dedication.

Stone was also an ado
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Just think of a splash between Dancing with the Stars and Jungle Jim.
It's Gina's fifth season on the Dance Off and she has never won once but for this season she is determined to win.
She is then paired with a reality TV star of the popular TV show, Living Wild. From there first meeting Gina and Stone would identify the sizzling attraction between them.
Soon the secrets they are both keeping threatens to tear them apart.
I really loved this book and I would definitely recommend it.
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm not a huge fan of dance-based (or any) reality TV, but I really enjoyed this. It felt like a story within a story because it had the show and behind the scenes. I loved both the main characters and how this effortlessly wove in aspects of latinx culture, what it mean for Gina to be a latinx woman in the industry, romance and fun. I also really liked Stone. He's a soft boy mountain man, idk what else you could ask for. ...more
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mind-blowing, heart-wrenching, tear-jerker.
Okay, I exaggerate.
We're talking about a book on reality TV. Actually, its 2 reality TV shows. Where things are exaggerated, faked, blown totally out of proportion for the sake of ratings.

Gina, a born dancer waiting for her big break is in danger of losing her current shot to fame by not pandering to what the tv exec wanted by playing up the stereotypes. She especially do not need an attraction to someone who is going to be a partner whom the producer
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Originally posted as a bookstagram:

Take the Lead by Alexis Daria is a contemporary romance that has gotten a lot of buzz on romance Twitter. I jumped at the chance to read it when the title went on sale for 1.99usd. Partially set in Alaska, New York and California, this is a romance between a professional dancer and a celebrity on a survival TV show, as they're paired together on a dance competition. The heroine has to teach the hero to dance as they comp
Laura C.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
I am all about the guilty pleasure of a good romance-- or even a badly written romance that makes you care about the characters-- but this was just bad. So repetitive, so much time spent in the characters' very boring, one-dimensional heads. When your English teacher said show it, don't tell it, there was a reason. Even the sex was bad. As demonstrated by this classic line, ".... and his cock still cried out for her."

Lol! That and the dancing butterflies.
I'm crying. Why am I crying? ...more
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was a cheese fest. The characters were bland and the romance between them was not believable at all. I skimmed the last 20% just to finish.
Also on Romances Ever After.

Take the Lead follows Gina and Stone, two reality TV stars, as they compete with the other contenders in The Dance Off, a network-TV dance competition. Both have different reasons of joining; Gina is in it to finally win it, since it’s already her fifth season, and Stone sees the prize money as a chance to alleviate his family’s financial troubles. However, Gina realizes immediately after meeting Stone that they’re being set up for the show’s romance bait, something s
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poc-heroines
4.5 stars

I've never watched Dancing with the Stars but after reading this book I have real admiration for the dancers on that show!

This book was so much fun! It's fun, fresh, and very steamy I couldn't stop reading from the moment I started to read. Add in the Latinx rep and I was sold on this from the get-go.

I loved Gina and Stone and I thought they had some really great chemistry. Stone is honestly so perfect I loved how much he cared for Gina and how he broke down her walls. I relate to Gina
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Saly by: Coral
Thank you so much Coral for reviewing this book, if it wasn't for you I would not have read this. First of all a brilliant premise, a dance reality TV show. Second I loved the heroine, she was ambitious and passionate about dancing and didn't want to take shortcuts or do something that would compromise her image in front of her family even if it would ease her way. I liked that about her, even if I felt she was worrying way too much about it later.

I loved the hero too, he was a saint to give up
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, 3stars, na
A NA with old-ish characters and story development, an actual plot and hot scenes that do not make you cringe?? Maybe this book feels better than it actually is after the horror that was 2017 NA-speaking, but I enjoyed this a lot! It still was a bit cheesy towards the end and had many of the things I've come to exasperatedly enjoy in a NA (too big, never been in love before, blah blah) but all in all it is very recommendable, and I've already added book 2 to my wishlist :)
Maybe I should start wa
kittykat (Jo Tortitude)
4.5⭐️ Bring on ALL the men dancers please, there is not much that is sexier to me than a man who can strut his stuff.

WOW WOW WOW. Other than a few very minor niggles, this book was perfect for me. And nary a word against male dancers and how they are all sissy and gay (which BTW is not an insult!) being said. Especially for such a large wilderness type of guy that Stone is, it was so fucking amazing to see him open up and enjoy leaning on his creative and performance side without being harassed
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I tend to stay away from reality tv in general and the same for reading and sub-genres in CR. The only reality TV I watch is Dancing With the Stars, so when I read the concept of this duology, I was hooked.

I'm happy to say that Take the Lead was quite an enjoyable read. Daria did a great job of building a relationship and great chemistry between Gina and the DELICIOUS Stone. I loved the behind the scenes details of training each week for the show, the creation of choreography and the politics o
Trigger warnings: lying, manipulation, gunfire. I think that's it??

3.5 stars.

For the most part, I really enjoyed this story. I's essentially a Dancing with the Stars romance. So, uh, yes please. There's plenty of fun dance stuff. There's plenty of chemistry between the two leads. There's plenty of depth to their characters and their individual stories. So for the most part? It was a lot of fun.

However. There were occasional moments in the sex scenes where I was like "
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Despite eye rolling a little bit through the conflict near the end of the book, this was a really good debut novel. I also have questions about the hero turning into a male model, but I can't really rule anything out these days. This was fun. I'm going to read book two. ...more
I wanted to like this so much more than I actually did. Like, trade secret here, even though I do not enjoy most reality TV, I realllllly enjoy reading about characters in books or stories (and fanfic, let's be honest) being on reality TV competitions. (This is similar to me not really liking sports, but loving stories about people who play sports. Why? Shrug.)

Take the Lead is Alexis Daria's first novel, and I think you can tell. It was very uneven for me. One minute I'd be super into it, the ne
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Alexis Daria is a native New Yorker and award-winning author writing stories about successful Latinx characters and their (occasionally messy) familias. Her super powers include spotting celebrities in NYC, winning Broadway ticket lotteries, and live-tweeting. You can find her on Twitter or Instagram at @alexisdaria.

Other books in the series

Dance Off (2 books)
  • Dance with Me (Dance Off, #2)

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Pitched for fans of Jane the Virgin and The Kiss Quotient, Alexis Daria’s newest novel, You Had Me at Hola , goes behind the scenes of a...
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