Review: Take the Lead (Dance Off #1) by Alexis Daria

I first discovered Alexis Daria when I snagged a copy of You Had Me At Hola. I loved the premise of the book and the representation of so many Latinx characters and the whole Spanish soap opera angle really hooked me. I thought the stories were good and I loved the romances that bloomed off the pages. So naturally when I saw this new series come up for review, I was all about it! I also liked that this book featured a biracial romance. Overall it wasn’t a hard sell for me to pick this one up! And since today is Valentines Day I think this is an appropriate time to put out my review!

There was only one thing I was a little hesitant with this one. While I liked the idea of an on screen romance in You Had Me At Hola, I was less convinced about the on screen romance of a reality show. I think that is such a hard sell and for me it was a gamble. Daria does write solid romances so I decided not to over think it too much and just see how it played out but I did have some reservations about that part.

Alexis Daria RITA award for her debut novel (You Had Me At Hola) and since then she has written additional installments to that series as well as starting this new one, all of which have rapidly gained a devoted fan following. If you are looking for a hot and upcoming romance writer, then you came to the right place! Alexis Daria has crafted some great reads, that includes this book. The more books I read by Daria, the more excited I am for her to put out the next one! I am so happy to see this is part of a new series, while I was for the next Primas of Power book!


From Alexis Daria, author of the critically acclaimed, international bestseller You Had Me at Hola, comes a fun, sexy romance set against a reality dance show.

Gina Morales wants to make it big. In her four seasons on The Dance Off, she’s never even made it to the finals. But her latest partner, the sexy star of an Alaskan wilderness show, could be her chance. Who knew the strong, silent, survivalist-type had moves like that? She thinks Stone Nielson is her ticket to win it all—until her producer makes it clear they’re being set up for a showmance.

Joining a celebrity dance competition is the last thing Stone wants. However, he’ll endure anything to help his family, even as he fears revealing their secrets. While the fast pace of Los Angeles makes him long for the peace and privacy of home, he can’t hide his growing attraction for his dance partner. Neither wants to fake a romance for the cameras, but the explosive chemistry that flares between them is undeniable.

As Stone and Gina heat up the dance floor, the tabloids catch on to their developing romance. With the spotlight threatening to ruin everything, will they choose fame and fortune, or let love take the lead? (summary from Goodreads)


Reality tv really isn’t my thing. Now don’t come at me about this. I watch trash mindless tv too. I have also watched my fair share of reality tv over the years but I find that it’s become so scripted and just redundant that I simply have a hard time watching. I also have zero interest in things like Dancing with the Stars, Cooking with the Stars, Hells Kitchen, anything like that. However, this book still appealed to me based on what I know of the author. Even if I wasn’t excited that there would be a romance with reality tv as a backdrop, I was open to letting Daria change my mind on the subject of reality tv romances. I am glad I didn’t let my own prejudices against reality tv star me away from this one. Daria did a very very very good job at highlighting how problematic reality tv is and how the characters are often manipulated to conform to a certain plot or narrative they want to portray. She certainly offered a balanced view of reality tv and it made the romance that much more believable for me.

I also loved seeing how Daria’s writing has evolved though each book. You Had Me At Hola was good, but the next book in the series was better. With this book, I honestly expected it to be a little more evolved than it was but it wasn’t by any means poorly written etc.. I looked it on up Goodreads and found that this book was originally released in 2017, so a debut for Daria at the time. Now it’s being re-released with a spiffy new cover and what I am guessing is a revamping of some content to match Daria’s more experienced writing style. I don’t know how much was changed or polished for this new release but I am guessing at least some. Once I saw it was a re-release, it made a bit more sense why some parts fit better than others or flowed better etc.

A lot of people tend to write off the romance genre claiming it’s flippant and predictable, but for me Daria picks topics and issues that have some teeth to them. This isn’t just a fluffy piece, the characters deal with real issues and as a reader I felt a connection to the characters even if I had little investment in reality tv, I felt like the character were real people who had real issues. Sure there are some cliches in the book and some times it might be a little over the top but what fun is fiction without a little bit of that? I don’t mind cliches in the romance genre personally, I know when I pick up a romance I am 99% guaranteed a HEA and I am all for things being a bit extra in this genre!

In this book, Stone and Gina had solid chemistry. There is something about dancing that lends itself to sensualism and I thought that came across nicely in this book. Overall this was a great book to read for the romance season! I love how diverse it was and I love love love the new cover that this book was released with. If you are looking for a hot new romance this Valentines Day, then you are not going to want to miss this one!

Book Info and Rating

Format 368 pages, Paperback

Expected publication

February 14, 2023 by St. Martin’s Griffin

ISBN 9781250817969 (ISBN10: 125081796X)

Free review copies provided by publisher, St Martin’s Griffin, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 4 stars

Genre: romance , contempo romance


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