Take the Lead

Available now!

A special print edition of Take the Lead with a new cover, updated text, and bonus materials!

One of the Best Romances of 2017
— Entertainment Weekly and The Washington Post
2018 RITA® Award Winner for Best First Book
Starred Reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus
Library Reads Pick for February 2023

Take the Lead cover, an illustration of a tan woman in a flowing dress running her fingers through the hair of a blond man with a beard

“A sparkling debut.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Vibrantly written.”The Washington Post

“Very spicy.”Cosmopolitan

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 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, but 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 peace and privacy, he can’t deny 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 unmistakable. As Stone and Gina heat up the dance floor, it’s only a matter of time until he feels an overwhelming urge to take the lead.

When the press catches 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 choose between fame and fortune, or the chance at a future together.

Take the Lead is now in audiobook!

Out now!

Check out the Pinterest board and Spotify playlist for TAKE THE LEAD!

Praise for TAKE THE LEAD

⭐ Their dancing is joyful, sexy, and mimics the trust and intimacy they develop as partners and lovers. This perfect romance will dance its way into the reader’s heart.

Kirkus Starred Review

⭐ The structure of the competition keeps the pages flying, and Daria does a fantastic job making the thrilling dance routines jump and twirl off the page. Add in the protagonists’ opposite personalities and fiery attraction, and this whirlwind romance scores a 10 out of 10.

Publishers Weekly Starred Review

[Gina and Stone’s] romance is believable, emotional, and hot—everything you want from a story about dance partners!

—Jasmine Guillory, New York Times bestselling author, Oprah Magazine

As irresistible and sexy as a Bad Bunny song.

—Adriana Herrera, USA Today bestselling author

Stone and Gina’s chemistry leaps off the pages in a story filled with grit, humor, passion, and heart. A must-read!

—Mia Sosa, USA Today bestselling author

This is a case of extreme opposites attracting: Gina is a hilarious city girl, and Stone is a stoic mountain man with a secret. Together, they are outrageously sexy. Filled with a collection of intriguing characters, this is a light, vibrantly written romance from an author who clearly adores the world she’s developed — and the characters she’s matched.

Sarah MacLean, New York Times bestselling author, Washington Post

Take the Lead is everything I look for in a romance—lovable and layered characters, sizzling chemistry, and a charming and authentic voice. I loved it!

—Sonali Dev, USA Today bestselling author

Come for the spot-on descriptions of the paso doble and the outrageous dance competition costumes, stay for the heartfelt romance about two people breaking down their barriers to forge a genuine connection in a world where reality is the furthest thing from it. … Daria’s story of this behind-the-scenes romance is a perfect ten.

Entertainment Weekly

A fun and flirty romance with a wonderful cast of characters. Perfect for fans of Dancing with the Stars!

Library Reads February 2023 Pick, Tristan Draper, Dekalb Public Library, Dekalb, IL

Do not miss Take the Lead by Alexis Daria… [Stone and Gina’s] sexy secret romance is tested not just by the crazy world of reality TV, but also by that classic obstacle to HEA — reality.

—Maya Rodale, USA Today bestselling author, NPR

As the chemistry sizzles…Daria brings humor and colorful detail to each scene.


This is Alexis Daria’s debut novel and boy…I can’t wait for more from her. The feelings just jump off the page; the dance scenes are vivid. This is definitely going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship…between Alexis and my wallet.

Book Riot

A ballroom dance competition is a beehive of activity and emotion, and the intensity of that environment is conveyed very well in the first entry of the Dance Off duology… Gina and Stone are a lovable couple who make it easy to root for them.

RT Book Reviews