Take the Lead by Alexis Daria (Review)

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 DIVERSE READ: #Ownvoices Puerto Rican MC

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Romance, Contemporary

Synopsis: 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.

My thoughtsTake the Lead is an adorable quick read centered around a celebrity dance competition and Gina and Stone’s quick connection that draws them closer together. Gina is a professional dancer, hoping to make it big in LA, and Stone is a gruff and quiet reality show celebrity who is only taking part in this competition to win money for his family. Together they form a bond that is indescribable and their chemistry is something they can’t ignore as they try their hardest to win the dance competition, against all odds.

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 adorable character to get to know along the way, as well. His gruff demeanor contrasted perfectly with Gina’s personality. Their dynamic was so unique because their relationship blossomed on screen for this reality show, so it was interesting to see how they were pushed together by their producers and their own desire to be together. I loved how healthy and cute their relationship was and I rooted for them to not only win the competition but to win over each other’s hearts at the end of the novel.

While this story was written in a pace that was a bit too fast for me to fully enjoy the characters and their growing relationships, I still enjoyed this story overall for its diversity, well-written dance scenes, and quirkiness that comes along with reality shows. If you love anything to do with dance, a steamy forbidden romance, and a strong-willed female lead, you’ll love Take the Lead.

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