TAKE THE LEAD by Alexis Daria
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
ISBN: 9781250175588; Price: $3.99
The first book in a sizzling duology about dancers who find love from #OwnVoices author 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.
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Gina took a deep, deliberate breath. Would it kill him to be a teensy bit uglier? She kept going.
“Instead, we stand like this.” As she had on his porch, she positioned his body into the pose he would use for the foxtrot. She tried to keep her touch professional and impersonal. “Our first dance is the foxtrot. It’s a lively, smooth-flowing ballroom dance that requires us to match our steps while in hold.”
“Is this anything like the waltz you showed me?”
“I like to think of the foxtrot as the waltz con sabor. With flavor. It’s a good first dance because our bodies aren’t touching.”
His brow creased as she stepped into the frame he created with his arms. “What do you mean? We’re touching.”
She grinned at his obvious discomfort. He had no right to be cool and calm when she was a hormonal mess. “This is nothing. Dance partners are very familiar with each other’s bodies. There’s no getting around it. If you hold back, it ruins the dance.”
Stone pressed his lips together and didn’t say anything. His gaze lifted over her head to their reflection in the mirrors.
She tapped his left foot with her right. “Now, the basic steps. Always start with your left. I’ll be doing the opposite of what you’re doing. The foxtrot is about smooth gliding steps and perfect frame.”
After taking him through a few sequences of slow-slow-quick-quick, she said, “We’re going to showcase your posture and form while contrasting them with your virility and humble background.”
He coughed and his steps faltered. Above the beard, his cheeks reddened. “With my what?”
“You’re a big manly mountain man,” she said. “We’ll let that side out in the Latin and jazz dances. With the more classical styles, like the foxtrot and the waltz, we’re going to show a contrast—the elegant and refined side of the Viking.”
“Viking?” He looked like he was going to choke. She broke hold to pass him a water bottle from the small cooler.
“Don’t tell me you don’t know what you look like,” she said, pointing at his reflection. “We’re going to use those muscles and that beard to our advantage.”
He took a long swig of water, chugging more than half the bottle in one gulp. “I didn’t realize this was so tactical.”
“What, you thought you could just show up and dance?” She snorted. “Think again, buddy. A lot of strategy goes into these competitions. Come on. We have work to do.”
For the next two hours, she dragged him around the room, correcting his steps and his stance. While Stone followed instructions, and went where she told him, he also sighed, eyed their reflections skeptically, and blinked for a little too long, like he wanted to roll his eyes.
If he didn’t learn to lead, she was going to end up doing all the work of getting him through the dances, and he was far too big for her to keep adjusting him as they moved.”
Exhausted, Gina called for a hydration break. Without a word, Stone broke hold and dropped onto the edge of the small stage with an exaggerated exhale. Gina sucked on her bottom lip. If he sighed one more time . . .
About the Author
Alexis Daria serves as PRO Liaison for the New York City chapter of RWA, and co-hosts #RWchat, a weekly Twitter chat for romance writers. Her writing has appeared in Woman’s Day for Latinas and on DIY MFA and Swoon Says.
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