On the reality show Dance Off, pro rugby player Olivier Gautier and Olympic swimmer JC Webster each have one goal in mind: to stay on the show as long as possible to earn his charity of choice maximum exposure and a larger donation. As the competition heats up, their goals expand to catching each other’s interest, but Olivier is firmly in the closet and plans to stay there. JC is willing to be discreet, but not to hide forever.
Starting a romance with another man is challenge enough for any celebrity, but doing it under the microscope of reality TV—and one majorly intolerant costar—is even harder. Add in meddling dance pros, JC’s overbearing family, and the need to play up chemistry with dance partners to win America’s hearts, and JC and Olivier’s time together is looking more and more like a recipe for disaster.
As the pressure to stay in the competition mounts, JC and Olivier must face their inevitable separation at the end of the show as well as decide whether a relationship as complicated as theirs can survive in the real world, outside the bubble of the set and practice studios.
restaurant that had been converted to a dining room for the cast, hooked his
fingers over the molding at the top, and leaned forward a little to stretch his
chest muscles. It hurt with the good kind of pain, and he stayed on his toes
until Chelsea came up behind him.
knocking him off balance. “Some of us want to eat.”
stumbled forward. “I forgot to stretch my arms before coming up.”
downstairs.” Chelsea grinned and started making a sandwich from the deli meat
platter on the island. “The more we practice, the better you’ll be.”
as far as Olivier was concerned, the perfect anodyne for four hours of dancing
in shoes that felt like they were solid steel. He figured whatever Chelsea had
spent the morning doing to her partner, she needed to keep doing for another
several hours so Olivier could get another such view at the end of the day. “What’s
this about being stiff?” he asked as he took a plate for himself and prepared a
straight back to work.” JC took four bottles of water out of the refrigerator
and handed them around to Chelsea, Olivier, and Tricia. “I think I should take
time to stretch so I can move in the morning.”
still got four hours of rehearsal this afternoon. Everyone will be exhausted by
the end of the first week. It’s just the way it goes.”
training after we’ve had a break post championships,” Olivier said. “Yes, it’s
eight hour days, but we aren’t lifting weights or running drills.”
Swimming is very repetitive once you learn the right way to move. This is
different.” JC pulled his arms across his chest one at a time, stretching them.
The pull of muscle felt good and let him relax a little as he took a long
swallow of water and picked up his sandwich.
like it if you could move in the morning.”
muscles beneath his T-shirt and then forced himself to concentrate on lunch. He
still didn’t think it would be worse than the start of off-season training, but
that didn’t mean he intended to let anyone get the best of him. “You didn’t
stay here at the house last night,” he said to JC after a few minutes. “Do you
live in Texas when I’m not training. My aunt has a house here in LA, though, so
Mama and I are staying with her.” He ducked his head as he realized he’d just
admitted he’d brought his mother with
him, and he tried not to think about whether he was more embarrassed because it
was Olivier or not. “She’s a huge fan of the show and insisted. My aunt said
she could stay too, and, well….” He shrugged, trying to play it off.
Olivier replied. “Don’t disappear every night, though. We had a good time
sitting around playing cards last night. Tyler says tonight he will teach me to
JC chuckled ruefully. “There’s no way I can stay around tonight. If I miss it,
I’ll never live it down. You, uh—” He bit back the urge to invite Olivier over,
though he knew his mama would love it. “Let me know how the rummy goes. Maybe I’ll
stick around later in the week, and we can play.”
the game without JC present to see him embarrass himself. “You should bring
your mama to watch a rehearsal. I’m sure other couples would let her watch as
think Chelsea would appreciate Mama trying to give advice when I’m just
learning the moves.”
yet,” Chelsea said. “I’d hate for you to be embarrassed.”
grinned. “She loves dancing, and she’s watched every episode of Dance Off. She’ll probably try to give
you advice about what the judges like and what gets audience votes. I wouldn’t dare let her watch other couples yet.”
said with a wink for Tricia. “I could use all the help I can get.”
to give the audience what they want. I already have an idea for your costume.”
Olivier shirtless. It’ll make all the girls swoon.”
back, but he’d worry about convincing Tricia of that if it actually came up
with the costume department.
as she bumped her shoulder against his. “I’m sure all the girls would love to
see your abs as well.”
his amusement and failing. Dance Off
was different from swimming, but shirtless was shirtless, and on the ballroom
floor, he’d still have on pants and shoes. “Dripping
wet in a Speedo, mind you. No outfit you put me in could possibly be more
revealing than that.”
her partners wore in previous seasons.”
tempt me, Olivier thought, but he wasn’t quite ready to share with
everyone else just yet. He didn’t know Tricia and Chelsea that well, and while
he knew JC was bi, he didn’t know how JC would react to anything more than the
light flirting they had done so far. Olivier was willing to find out, but not
when they had an audience.
everything have to be appropriate for children?”
definitely gotten some well-concealed enjoyment out of watching some of his
teammates climb out of the pool at the end of practice or after swimming in a
meet, but there was no doubt that families of all sorts had watched them in
competition. “No one objected to the Speedo when I won races.”
Chelsea said. “People expect you to be mostly naked and soaking wet at a pool.
Not while you’re dancing.”
keep everything in line. They do a fabulous job with fitting everything. We’ll
probably have the first meetings with them tomorrow so they can take
Olivier said. He finished his sandwich and his bottle of water. “But now it is
time for more practice, yes?”
the recycling bin under the counter. “Come on, JC. Time’s a-wastin’.”
bottle in the bin and followed Chelsea out of the dining room, pausing to touch
the top of the doorframe as he passed through. “Don’t work too hard, Olivier.”
If they had known each other better, Olivier would have sworn that last little
stretch was for his benefit. As it was, he was left hot and bothered thinking
about it without any way to do anything about it.
oeil,” Olivier muttered. “We will show them how to do the cha-cha, n’est-ce pas, Tricia?”
doesn’t. Come on. Let’s get back to work.”
What a fun story! I am not a big reality TV fan, and have never watched DWTS, but this book is absolutely enjoyable…and makes me curious to indulge!
Olivier is a pro rugby player whose dashing good looks and sultry French accent is sure to be catnip for the female viewership, despite his relative anonymity. Thing is, Olivier’s gay. And, in the closet. He doesn’t know how being out will affect his opportunities in his sport, and he really doesn’t want to become the poster boy for gay rugby, either. He’s private…and very much attracted to his fellow co-star, Javier “JC”, an Olympic-medalist swimmer.
JC is out publicly at a bisexual, has been since he was in high school. He has kept a low profile on his relationships–he doesn’t want anyone else to have their privacy invaded due to his own celebrity. He’s drawn to Olivier form the start, and it’s a huge issue. He doesn’t know if Olivier would welcome his attention, and there’s another co-star who is a well-known conservative radio host, renown for his homophobia and hate speech. JC really doesn’t want to end up as a subject on that show.
The mutual attraction simmers, each man suffering in silence as they each prepare for the competition. I know there’s a reason some locales have banned dancing–whoa, boy it can really get hot in there!
JC, Olivier and their pro partners wow in the first week. Each is happy to return for more, and to have the chance to earn money for their charities. But each is also happy to figure out that, yes, the other is “into” him. They still keep everything on the down-low, but their partners quickly find out.
I loved how supportive the side characters are in this. Olivier is really intent on staying publicly quiet, but wants to share some of his joy of being with JC, of having not to hide his looks, or to be able to share even a casual embrace. Seeing how supportive the rest of the cast is with a gay pro, once the radio host is booted, gives Olivier the push to begin dropping his walls.
JC is loving and supportive throughout. He also knows his large, exuberant Mexican-American family will be quick to embrace Olivier as their own, if that’s a possibility. The main tension in the story comes from waiting to see who will be eliminated from the show, and when. Soon, JC and Olivier are not simply competing for the big prize, but for their fledgling relationship to stay cocooned in the guise of the show. They are always careful to hide their secret from the camera, but the promise of more time together becomes the biggest reason to make it to the finals.
I really, really liked this. It was a bit light on the heat factor, but emotionally I was right there the whole time. The judges were so fun, and the commentary was constantly humorous. The men and women swoon for both JC and Olivier–who swooned for each other just as much! The end was spot-on, and won’t leave the reader hanging on.
Interested? You can find DANCE OFF on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press (eBook and Paperback), Amazon, AllRomance and Barnes & Noble.
About the Authors:
Ariel Tachna lives outside of Houston with her husband, her daughter and son, and their two dogs. Before moving there, she traveled all over the world, having fallen in love with France, where she met her husband, and India, where she hopes to retire some day. She’s bilingual with snippets of four other languages to her credit and is as in love with languages as she is with writing.
You can find Ariel online on her website, Facebook, twitter and Goodreads.
Nessa L. Warin lives in a fantasy world that’s mostly inside her head, though her physical address is in southwestern Ohio. Her two cats kindly play along with her fantasies and graciously let her pay all the bills, but they do require her to provide pampering on a regular basis. Nessa enjoys exploring the wonders of this world through travel—something her cats strongly disapprove of as it cuts into their pampering time—and can find whimsy in the most mundane places. When the real world becomes too much, Nessa enjoys dressing in costume and going to Renaissance Festivals and fantasy conventions. A short trip to either does wonders for her state of mind, so she makes sure to attend at least one of each a year. These trips help Nessa add to her collection of faerie and dragon art, and she swears she will frame and hang all the prints she’s collected some time soon.
When she’s not living in a fantasy world, Nessa enjoys tasting and learning about wine, particularly since it’s one of the few things she and the rest of her family agree on. She’s a regular at the wine tastings held by her local wine shop, and considers it a sin for her wine rack to have more empty spots than full ones. She’d prefer her wine rack to be filled with Pinot Noir, Malbec, and Syrah, but one of her favorite things about wine is the way it can always surprise her. More than once she’s been taken aback by which wine she likes best at a tasting, and she loves the way her wine rack illustrates the joys of trying new things.
You can find Nessa online on her website, Facebook, twitter and Goodreads.
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Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!