The Liar's Club, I was eager to get back to some unrealistic, but fun and romantic stories with a fairy tale ending. I don't watch much television anymore (unless I can get it on Netflix), but when I did, I was a sucker for Dancing With the Stars. Being a bad dancer myself, I feel like I can really appreciate the talent of the professional dancers on the show. And there's something about the pairing of professionals and other famous people that is fascinating. So, when I discovered a romance novel that seemed to be based on the show, Take the Lead by Alexis Daria, I enjoyed it enough to pick up the sequel, Dance With Me (2017), when it came out.
Natasha Diaz is a pro dancer on a reality dancing show that we'll just call DWTS. She was roommates with the heroine of Daria's first dancing book. Now that her roommate has found true love and moved out, Natasha is facing a number of problems. Natasha has always had issues with managing her money, and since she recently bought a new, reliable car, she has almost nothing left in the bank. Since they are in between seasons on DWTS, she is not currently getting a paycheck from them. So when her apartment collapses under a water leak, bed bugs infest the building, and Natasha has no money to stay elsewhere, Dimitri Kovalenko offers to let her stay at his place.
Dimitri Kovalenko (who I'm pretty sure is modeled after Maksim Chmerkovsky) is a professional dancer turned judge on DWTS. Natasha and Dimitri have hooked up a number of times and have great chemistry. But they are always one night hook-ups, enjoyable to both parties because they have sizzling chemistry, but they never turn into anything else. Natasha is wary of getting too close to Dimitri and risking her heart because he is a known womanizer. However, she doesn't have much of a choice. In order to keep some semblance of distance, she tells Dimitri that they can't have sex while she's staying at his house.
Dimitri thinks the no-sex rule is ridiculous considering their chemistry and history, but he's willing to be patient because he really likes Natasha. When Natasha injures her ankle during an exercise class she's teaching, Dimitri steps up and takes care of Natasha to an even greater extent. To make matters even thornier, DWTS is cracking down on inter-show romances. Natasha is afraid of losing her job if anyone finds out that she is living with Dimitri.
It doesn't take long before the no-sex rule is deemed completely useless. The two dancers make a great couple and there are only two things keeping them apart. First, is the overbearing rules from DWTS. The second is the insecurity of both Dimitri and Natasha. Both are afraid to admit to the other that what they have is more than a fling and they really like each other. On the one hand, this is ridiculous because they are adults with words, and how many times do you have to have sex before you admit you've got a good thing? On the other hand, I can certainly relate to not wanting to put yourself out there just to get hurt--especially when you've been hurt before.
On the whole, I really enjoyed this book. I love getting an inside view into the professional dancer's lives as well as their view of the show they work on. The chemistry between the main characters was great, and I remember a lot of the story considering I read this one a while ago.
P.S. One thing that drove me crazy while I was reading was that Natasha had to pay for her apartment when it was flooded by water and being sprayed for bed bugs. That's not how leasing an apartment works. The lessor is supposed to provide a livable space, and if they don't, the lessee either gets rent paid back or doesn't have to pay. The apartment company should know better and Natasha or one of her friends should have known better. Natasha gets her money back in the end, but it bothered me in the short term.