by Alexis Daria
Series: Dance Off #1
Also in this series: Dance with Me, Dance All Night
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
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 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.
Okay, I know I posted the review for Dance with Me,the second book in the series, before this one, but I wanted to get that one reviewed in time for publication.
Look, I have like zero interest in Dancing with the Stars or Strictly Come Dancing or, honestly, pretty much any reality show besides The Great British Bake-Off. So, I’m not sure how Ms. Daria did it, but I was still absolutely swept away by the descriptions of the different dances and choreography.
Stone is the “strong, quiet, and serious” out of his seven siblings (it says so right on the show website!). He hates his role on Living Wild, but goes along with it to help his family. Gina is vivacious and affectionate and driven! She loves being on The Dance Off and knows exactly what she wants out of life. When the two dance partners come together, there’s an instant attraction, and the slow build of their friendship and their relationship that follows is both sweet and hot! Somehow the book made me simultaneously believe in their relationship and be on the edge of my seat because there’s no way they can end up together. Gina treats Stone like her dirty little secret, and she can’t get over the optics of how it looks for her, especially as a Latina, to be sleeping with her partner.
I loved the growth of the characters, both individually and as a couple. Ms. Daria did a wonderful job of showing us readers how they complement each other, and how each helps the other grow. By the end of the book, they’re truly better people than they started – they understand themselves better, and are more balanced on reaching their goals.
This is a lovely exploration of how expectations, both our own and others’, can either tie us down or set us free. Definitely recommended!