Cover Image: What Happens in the Ballroom

What Happens in the Ballroom

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Member Reviews

In this next installment of the "Designing Debutantes" series, Sabrina Jeffries tells the interesting story of Eliza Pearce and Nathaniel Stanton. Eliza has been a widow for a couple of years and she runs Elegant Occasions along with her sisters to keep herself affloat and occupied.  When her late husband's close friend Nathaniel, Earl of Foxstead, seeks her help in increasing the marriage prospects of war-widow Jocelin March, whose father is Nathaniel's commanding officer, she along with her sisters, embark on the difficult journey of preparing Jocelin for the ton.

Both Eliza and Nathaniel find themselves drawn to each other irresistibly inspite of their respective reservations. Sparks begin to fly but are hindered from rooting well because of the many secrets each of them hold. Will they allow their mutual secrets and past experiences stand in the way of their heart's desires? 

Actually,  I felt this book had a great start than the previous one. The characters were very well etched out, with the readers getting a very clear idea on the basic motive of every one of them. The author has also made the story interesting through the various charged interactions between the leads. However the earlier momentum doesn't carry throughout the book. The final conflict in the story wasn't very well defined and so,  it actually seemed contrived and not very logical for the confines of the story. It doesn't help the those scene are protracted and slow down the pacing of the story- telling. 

Leaving aside this issue, I had an enjoyable experience reading this book. There were some steamy scenes, as is usual for Sabrina Jeffries, which create a delicious tension between the leads and helps keep things interesting and tantalizing.  This book, though not excellent,  is a good addition to author Sabrina's feather.
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What Happens in the Ballroom is an enjoyable regency romance.  Eliza Pierce is a young widow that enjoys working with her sisters planning events and helping the gentry find spouses as part of “Elegant Occasions.”  One day, her late husband’s best friend, Nathaniel Stanton, the Earl of Foxstead, stops by to hire Elegant Occasions to help find a husband for his ward, a young war widow.  Mrs. March is young and mysterious.  Is Nathaniel in love with her himself?  What secret are they trying to hide?   Will Nathaniel and Eliza be able to put the past and secrets behind them to forge a future together?

I loved the romance of this novel, the setting, and the characters. The flirting and banter between Nathaniel and Eliza was very fun.  This book was a quick read.  This book did have two steamy love scenes in it.  I guessed the secret, but I really wasn’t sure if I was right until the end.

This is the second book in the Designing Debutantes series.  It was fine to read it as a standalone, but I definitely want to go back and read the first book, A Duke for Diana.

Overall, What Happens in the Ballroom is a delightfully fun regency romance.

Book Source: Review Copy from Kensington Books.   Thank-you! I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of the TLC Book Tour. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Really enjoyed this exciting and engaging romantic adventure. Highly entertaining, fun filled, emotional journey filled with witty banter, heart racing twists and so many fun and intriguing charters.
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I like Sabrina Jeffries but some books more than others. I was looking forward to Eliza's story as she was set up as a widow whose marriage maybe wasn't as perfect as it appeared. In this book, she is hired to find a husband for a young woman whose husband was also in the military. The man hiring her is her dead husband's friend, Nathaniel Stanton, Earl of Foxstead. And he's being squirrely. Because he has a secret. Well, lots of secrets. WAY too many secrets for me when it gets just. so. dramatic. Also just. so. dramatic? Nathaniel and Eliza getting together. I wish we had less back and forth and more after the two are together so we could be better assured of an HEA.
Why three stars when I'm being so snarky? Jeffries is a good writer. I made it through the book and connected with the characters enough not to hate either one. And I'm still looking forward to the next book in the series. 

Three stars
This book came out March 28, 2023
Followed by What Happens in the Ballroom
Borrowed as ebook from Libby
Opinions are my own
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Eliza, an impoverished widow from the peerage, runs a business with her sisters, named Elegant Occasions.  Eliza is very independent and has little interest in marriage, although she's seriously tempted by Lord Foxstead, her late husband's best friend. When Nathaniel, Lord Foxstead, wants to hire her company to launch his ward into society to find a husband she can't refuse.  But no one knows the mysterious Jocelyn, who arrives with a 2-year old son, and claims to be a war widow who'd grown up following the Army. Eliza can't take a chance with a woman who could conceivably tarnish the reputation of Elegant Occasions. After all, the sisters have worked extremely hard to overcome the work of their parents' escapades. The chemistry between Eliza and Nathaniel is wonderful.   There were a lot of family secrets on both sides which led to conflict.  When the secrets finally are exposed, they're not quite what Eliza expected – and yes, there are several HEAs.
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***ARC Provided by the Publisher via NetGalley***

I struggled with this title.  I did finish it, although I am not totally sure why as I never totally felt the connection between the characters, which is a shame, as I think this one had a lot of potential, it just didn't work for me.

I am unable to recommend this title.
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When Nathaniel the Earl of Foxstead comes back from military duty with his ward enlists the help of Eliza and her sisters at Elegant Occasions to help introduce her into society. Eliza has no qualms even if seeing the Earl brings up uncomfortable feelings and memories. The attraction between Nathaniel and Eliza can’t be ignored and they give in to their past feelings for each other. But Foxstead’s story seems vague at times and Eliza is determined to find out the truth about him and his ward. Will they get in each other’s way by trying to protect themselves from the past or can they move on to a new future?

This historical romance had a lot of steam and twists in the plot that made me enjoy reading it!
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This is the second book in the series but could be read as a standalone.  
Eliza, an impoverished widow who is from the peerage runs a business with her sisters, named Elegant Occasions.  When Nathaniel, her deceased husband's former best friend wants to hire her company to launch his ward into society to find a husband she can't refuse.  The chemistry between Eliza and Nathaniel is wonderful.  There were a lot of family secrets on both sides which lead to conflict.
I love Eliza's relationship with her sisters and the fact that she is a strong independent woman.  Simply Devine!
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Here’s what I really love about Sabrina Jeffries: her characters are consistently well written, the plots are almost always exceptionally tantalizing, and the romance leaves an ache in your heart until it’s requited. Often, the biggest draw for RR is that society is so strict that it makes the amorous situations a little hotter, but with Jeffries, I’m often skipping it to get back to the romance. It’s not because the adult situations aren’t delightful, but her plots and storytelling are just THAT. GOOD. 

The Designing Debutantes series has been great so far. I’ve loved both installments. A Duke for Diana, the first book in the series, was great, with a bit of a grumpy v sunshine vibe. What Happens in the Ballroom is much more of a ‘proper lady with a hidden side’ situation. 

I loved how independent Eliza was, with very little interest in giving up any of her freedoms, even though she enjoys the handsome Lord Foxstead, her late husband’s bestie…probably a little more than she should. But who is this mysterious Jocelyn that he has taken in and who is the father of her child—is it Foxstead? She can’t start anything with someone who might tarnish the reputation of Elegant Occasions, her and her sisters’ company. Heaven knows their parents did enough tarnishing that they’ve been working hard to polish out. Eliza is right. Foxstead and Jocelyn do have secrets – but are they the ones that Eliza is thinking they are? 

Foxstead is all in for Eliza, though, with no interest in Jocelyn. It’s Eliza’s curves that he wants next to him when he wakes up, her blond hair he wants to see spread across his pillow. He has no idea which woman was describing when talked about his wife being a cold harpy – Eliza is enchanting, warm, whip smart, and undeniably sensuous. But will the secrets he holds ruin any chance he may have with this incredibly exciting woman that he can’t get out of his head?

Overall, this was another great book from Jeffries. There’s one more sister left and I can’t wait to read about her and her mysterious stranger—but you’ll need to read the first two to understand what I’m talking about. 

Thanks Netgalley and Kensington Books (always a pleasure!) for the advanced copy in exchange for this fair and honest review.  To be posted 5/11/23
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Thanks to Kensington Books, Netgalley and the author for an ARC of this book.  I am leaving this unbiased review voluntarily and without compensation.

This is the second book in the Designing Debutantes series.  I enjoyed the first book, A Duke for Diana, and was looking forward to this second instalment.

The action picks up when Nathaniel meets his best friend's widow again, after some time apart and realises that he has always suppressed an attraction to her, but he has secrets that could damage her.  Eliza has always felt an attraction to Nathaniel as well but her commitment to her sisters and their business means that she has little time to think of romance.

The story unfolds beautifully with little tidbits about each of the characters being revealed throughout.  I enjoyed the way the two get to know each other, however, I thought the dialogue was a little stilted at times and felt there were some pacing issues.  

Still, I look forward to the next book and enjoyed this one.
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This book was a little weird, to be honest. To begin with, it was almost painfully obvious from the beginning who Jimmy's father was, but I didn't mind that. I knew how it was going to come into play later, so I went along with it. What bothered me (aside from the many secrets and half-truths told throughout most of the book) was the fact that Eliza was prone to bringing up her ex-husband at the oddest times. About to sleep with Nathaniel? Let's talk about my ex. Just finished sleeping with Nathaniel? Let's talk about my ex.  Nathaniel wants to have a serious conversation, let's bring up my ex. 

I get it. He was a scoundrel, and you aren't missing him all that much, but man girl, let it go already. You claim to have moved on, found yourself, and refuse to be put back into the box your husband had forced you into, but your words show otherwise.

It was also irritating the way that Nathaniel continuously kept putting his ward Jocelin's future and feelings above those of Eliza, whom he claimed to love or at least like and respect a great deal. Funny, I wouldn't have thought he liked her at all, considering he not only put her reputation and that of her sisters and the business they had built in jeopardy with his deceit, but he also had no compunction whatsoever about sleeping with Eliza and not taking any precautions against pregnancy. 

Of course, we later have the big fight where part of the truth is revealed, Eliza gets mad that he won't reveal the whole truth (even though what she learned was bad enough), so she takes off to parts unknown, instructing her friends and family not to tell Nathaniel where she went because heaven forbid he try and make things right. Chaos ensues, the whole truth finally comes out, and our two main characters can finally have their happily ever after. 

While the formula is not new to the genre, I did enjoy the way this author went about presenting it. I am looking forward to Verity finally making her own match in the next book. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.
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Thanks to Kensington books and Netgalley for an advanced copy!

I have really been enjoying this series from Sabrina Jeffries, with Nathaniel and Eliza being my favorite pair so far.

This book had more twists than Jeffries previous books and while I saw the first one coming, the second one was very out of the blue!  But totally made sense because *romance*. I can't wait for the third novel, these characters are lovely.
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Eliza Pierce is beginning to enjoy the bit of freedom that comes with being that young widow of a soldier, as well as the financial success of Elegant Occasions, the party planning business she started with her two sisters. When Nathaniel Stanton, the Earl of Foxstead, her late husband’s best friend, hires her to help him bring another young military widow out into society, Eliza questions his motives. She’s suspicious of who the woman and her adorable young son really are, and of why Nathaniel keeps singling out Eliza herself.

Nathaniel’s family is complicated and makes marriage a difficult proposition for him, so his undeniable attraction to his best friend’s widow is inconvenient to say the least. Flagging under the weight of secrets from his family and his former commanding officer, Nathaniel sets aside his own feelings to do his duty, even though it means being tempted to break his own rules each time he encounters Eliza. He can’t help but want a future with her but fears she’ll never want him once she knows all his truths.

I seem to be saying this a lot lately, but I wanted to like this one much more than I did. It was fine, but not all that memorable for me and the heroine grew rather irritating after a while. To be fair, Eliza was incredibly judgmental from the start and her sisters, Verity and Diana didn’t come off all that well either; what was meant to be a charming interplay between the sisters was just a rather annoying distraction to me. Eliza’s insistence on believing Jocelin must be Nathaniel’s mistress or basically so was just crass and did not reflect well on Eliza. I found her to be too snappish with Nathaniel and too quick to accuse him of still being a rake despite his having given her every reason to believe he had changed. Eliza just kept bringing up old issues and refusing to let them go, a stubbornness that was just unnecessary and impeded the relationship development between herself and Nathaniel.

I’m not a fan of the secret-keeping trope in general because I spent the entire book knowing it would cause a rift because Eliza had made it very clear to Nathaniel that she wasn’t interested in listening to him. The whole secret-revelation-rift could’ve been avoided if she’d been more open and less judgmental from the start. Instead, Eliza was consistently mean to Nathaniel, even telling him at one point that she wouldn’t let him spoil a day by being him. Excuse me, what. I would loathe a hero for saying this to a heroine, so it goes both ways here as yet another facet that, for me, reflected poorly on Eliza. Also, she knew her husband was a liar and yet was quick to believe every foul thing he ever told her about Nathaniel. She made tons of excuses for not trusting Nathaniel, but none of them quite washed for me. Yes, he had secrets, but they weren’t truly his and it seemed very unfair for her to hold them against him, even for a short time. Later, Eliza claims to have spent all this time with Nathaniel and forgotten about her sisters, but they literally shared one afternoon, one dinner, and one night together, so once again, another Eliza complaint that didn’t wash. Her jealousy over his ward also grew old and just seemed petty after a while. There just wasn't sufficient relationship development for me and it seemed that Eliza’s character could basically be boiled down to jealousy and making assumptions.

I was also annoyed by Verity’s belittling of Eliza for no reason and happy to see Eliza stand up for herself against that behavior eventually. This makes me a bit nervous for Verity’s book but also gives me some hope, though thus far this series hasn’t been one I’ve loved the way I usually do with this author. None of the sisters’ behavior reflected all that well on any of them in this book but the drama and twists embedded in this premise were enjoyable, just not what I’d hoped because I didn’t click with this heroine. I’m sure most readers won’t have the issues that I did with Eliza and will love this one, and while it wasn’t all that I’d hoped for, I will look forward to the next book from a much-loved author.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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It's Eliza's turn in the Designing Debutantes series. The widow and oldest sister can't help but be drawn to the friend of her late husband, Nathaniel, Lord Foxstead. Eliza is determined not to marry again after being disappointed in love the first time around. Nathaniel is trying his best to resist her after he hires Elegant Occasions to sponsor his ward. They both fail in their efforts to resist their attraction. 

This was a truly lovely story. I enjoyed it very much and am looking forward to Verity's book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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Eliza Pierce is a widow. She runs Elegant Occasions with her two sisters. Eliza is the eldest. She had no plans to remarry. Thee sisters started Elegant Occasions after their parent’s scandal.

Nathaniel Stanton, the Earl of Foxstead, was a good friend of Eliza’s husband. They went to war together. He hires Elegant Occasions to find a husband for Jocelin March who is a widow with a young son. Nathaniel was asked by his General, Jocelin’s father, to look after her before he died during the war. There is a mysterious relationship between Nathaniel and Jocelin. Is she his former mistress? Is the child his? Why is he so devoted and concerned for Jocelin?

Nathaniel has not seen Eliza in about a year. He has forgotten how beautiful she is. She takes his breath away. He is bewitched by her smiles and just being in her company. He cannot stay away from Eliza. Unfortunately he has a secret that could destroy Eliza. He must stay away from Eliza. He feels he does not deserve her.

Eliza cannot resist the pull she has toward Nathaniel. They both try to fight the attraction they have for each other. They cannot resist. They have great chemistry together. Watching them fall in love was enjoyable. Nathaniel is adorable in his pursuit of Eliza. Their passion is hot and consuming. It devours them. They have some steamy scenes together.

Nathaniel is a former rake. Can Eliza trust his feelings for her? Will his secret destroy the budding relationship they have? Can their love overcome all obstacles? Their back and forth banter was adorable. The author had you rooting for the couple and hoping they will be together. 

This is the second book in the Designing Debutantes series. I enjoyed this sweet romance. The book flowed and kept you turning the pages. The author weaves a story that captures you from the beginning. There is a mysterious man that has been at all their functions that Verity sees but she cannot find him to speak to him. Who is this man? Verity wants to know! I cannot wait for Verity’s story in book three to find out who is this mysterious man. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and I am voluntarily leaving a review.  Reviews also left with Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks.
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A widow with no intention to marry again is knocked off her feet by her attraction to her late husband’s best friend in What Happens in the Ballroom. Sabrina Jeffries’s second Designing Debutantes book sees Eliza Pierce meet her match in an earl who isn’t as rakish as his reputation suggests.

Nathaniel Stanton, Earl of Foxstead, is a man with many secrets, one of which has brought him to Eliza’s door. He made a promise to help launch Mrs. Jocelin March into society and help her find a husband, so he engages the help of Eliza and her sisters to do so. The attraction Nathaniel has always felt for Eliza comes rearing back the minute he sees her. And Eliza, no blushing debutante, isn’t afraid of the pull between them. But having survived a bad marriage, Eliza has no desire to wed again. And even if she did, she can tell Nathaniel is hiding something and that’s enough to warn her off. As attraction becomes more, Eliza’s hesitance and Nathaniel’s secrets threaten to derail their burgeoning relationship.

It's easy to fall into What Happens in the Ballroom. Eliza and Nathaniel are likeable protagonists, they have solid chemistry, and Jeffries’s writing is wholly entertaining. I enjoyed being swept away by their romance which had a good mix of humor, heat, and heart. While there are emotional moments and lessons to be learned by the characters for them to get their happily ever after, it’s not a wildly dramatic book, which was nice. It may sound tame, but I just plain liked this story. It was sweet and fun and I’m very much looking forward to seeing Verity Harper get her book.
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Eliza and her sisters, Diana and Verity have another young woman to introduce into society through their business.  Nathan, Lord Foxstead has hired his friend Samuels' widow and her sisters to bring out his ward. His secrets may get in the way of a happily ever after with Eliza. Excellent follow up to Diana's story in the first book.  Looking forward to Verity's story next and finding out who the mystery man is.
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What a good read from Jeffries! I really liked these characters and the plot of this book. Secrets always get in you in trouble but I didn't expect that one! Always looking to reading more from this talented storyteller. Wish we didn't have to wait so long!!
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I really enjoyed Eliza and Nathaniel's story! It was fun watching these two find their HEA, they sure fought it the whole time, LOL!
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I will try to not spoil the plot because the less i knew the more i enjoyed.

But i will say that Eliza has my heart and the fact that she got her happy ending had me so happy. The chemistry between them is just so good.
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