Book Review: Take the Lead by Alexis Daria

Posted February 17, 2023 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 40 Comments

Take the Lead
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Series: Dance Off #1
by Alexis Daria
Publication Date February 14, 2023
Published by St. Martin's Publishing Group
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Genres: Fiction / Own Voices, Fiction / Romance / Multicultural & Interracial, Fiction / Romance / Romantic Comedy
Pages: 352
Format: ARC

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

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?

Take the Lead by Alexis Daria is the first book in her Dance Off Series.  It’s a story of a reality tv show about ballroom dancing.  

Story Recap:

Dancer Gina Morales has been on the hit dancing show, The Dance Off, for four seasons and has yet to make it to the finals.  She’s surprised when her new partner, Stone Nielson, star of an Alaskan Wilderness show, has some good moves and could be good enough to get her to the finals this year. 

Stone’s family stars in an Alaskan wilderness show and his family needs him, so he agrees to go on The Dance Off to help his family.  He misses the wilds of Alaska, but can’t help feeling attracted to his professional dance partner, Gina.  

When Gina finds out that the producers of The Dance Off want a showmance between Stone and herself, she’s angry because the last thing her professional reputation needs is gossip about her relationships.  

My Thoughts: 

I’m not a fan of reality TV books unless they are like Take the Lead where the books show off the less glamorous side of reality TV.  Take the Lead gives us a romance with a lot of chemistry and a lot of problems and the characters are realistic and likable.  I loved the dance scenes as there was clearly a connection between Gina and Stone.  

I loved the author’s take on reality tv.  I like that she doesn’t pull any punches and lets the readers know about the behind-the-scenes manipulations of the stars.  However, the heart of the story is Gina and Stone, and not the dance competition. 


I highly recommend Take the Lead to anyone who enjoys romance.  I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Alexis Daria

Alexis Daria writes stories about successful Latinx characters and their (occasionally messy) familias. You Had Me at Hola, the first book in her Primas of Power series, is a national bestseller. Alexis is a lifelong New Yorker who loves Broadway musicals and pizza.

Have you read Take the Lead?

40 responses to “Book Review: Take the Lead by Alexis Daria

  1. I used to love Dancing with the Stars, so this one definitely intrigued me! Glad to hear it was good. I do enjoy the reality tv books because like you say, they do show the sides we don’t see. Great review!

  2. I’ve loved this cover, but I didn’t know what the book was about. I need to read it after reading your review! I love books like this! It makes me think of a Lauren Layne book and then CW Farnsworth’s Winning Mr. Wrong. I love those books that show a bad reality dating side.

  3. I’ve honestly enjoyed some reality TV-style books – like The Charm Offensive and One to Watch – so I might enjoy this! I’ll admit that I didn’t prefer the author’s other books, but maybe this will be a winner for me. It sounds fun!

  4. Joanna @ TheGeekishBrunette

    I’ve had this one on my tbr. The cover really draws you in. I’m glad that it was worth the read!

  5. I think I saw this one on Tessa’s blog? I’m also not a fan of books about reality series, but I’m always interested in behind the scenes looks. Glad you enjoyed this one, Wendy!

  6. I don’t think I’ve personally read a book with reality tv as its setting, though I know a couple of them. I don’t think it’s something that really draws me in for a story but I really like that with this book the author let’s the reader known about the manipulations behind the scenes.

  7. This one sounds fun. I don’t watch many reality shows but I do love Strictly come dancing as I love dancing so having a dance show as a backdrop sounds really interesting.