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Take the Lead

(Dance Off #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  824 ratings  ·  205 reviews
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, ...more
ebook, 250 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Swerve
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3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  824 ratings  ·  205 reviews

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Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, and act. H
Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ 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 prep
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
Joce (squibblesreads)
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
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.
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
Ⓐlleskelle - teamSøren♗ ⊲I like big b00ks⊳

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
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Liv (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
 ᴍɪᴄs ✖amante de los spoilers✖
2018 re read.

I love Gina and Stone. I love that she's LATINA, that she cares so much for her career. She's a career woman. And Stone is the perfect beta hero, he's a big and muscular man but he's so gentle and kind and so sweet. I loved him.

I also learned a lot about dancing. I love reading books about dancers.

The only bad thing was a big misunderstanding at the end and Stone made a mistake and I was like NO!! why did you do that, you silly man!

Overall, it's an amazing book and also there's FEMA
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Laura C.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
This rated around a B- on my personal scale. I'm not a fan of competitive reality TV shows, but I like the setting in romances because it (typically) requires the hero and heroine to work as a team. There's a sense of teamwork running through this romance that I found appealing. Even though, admittedly, my eyes glazed over a bit when the "dance talk" went on for a while (I think if you're a fan of dance reality shows you'll probably like these bits better than I did - but that's on me, not the a ...more
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
Anna Banana
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 "
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.
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
Alex (HEABookNerd)
**Happily Ever After Book Nerd Blog Favorite**

Series: Dance Off #1
Rating: 5 stars - loved it!

“Stay with me. Remember what I told you? Channel whatever’s happening in your head into the dance. Into me. Let me help you carry it.”

This was absolutely amazing and I read it in one sitting! I’m a sucker for music/dance themed books and this did not let me down. I loved both Gina and Stone as individual characters and as a couple. I truly appreciated how emotional Stone and Gina’s connection was and h
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Alexis Daria is an award-winning contemporary romance author, artist, and native New Yorker. Her debut, TAKE THE LEAD, was a 2018 RITA® Award winner for “Best First Book” and was named one of the Best Romance Novels of 2017 by The Washington Post and Entertainment Weekly. Her next book, DANCE ALL NIGHT: A Dance Off Holiday Novella, will be out December 11th. Alexis is also the recipient of RWA-NYC ...more

Other books in the series

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