Cover Image: What Happens in the Ballroom

What Happens in the Ballroom

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Nathaniel has not had an easy life and has a terrible reputation as a ladies man.  He returns from war a changed man with man secrets.  Mrs. Eliza Pierce lost her husband in the war and she is learning to live as a widow.  She and Nathaniel have known each other for years but suddenly discover that they are attracted to one another.  Eliza hates secrets and Nathaniel is loath to tell his secrets.  Can the two of them find a way to move forward as a couple or will their secrets destroy their blossoming relationship?

The author does a really good job showing how Nathaniel and Eliza work through their issues.  I felt like they were stronger and better suited after each new revelation because they worked together to break down potential barriers.  It was fun to see Eliza as a successful business owner.  The fact that Nathaniel entrusted his ward, Jocelin, with Eliza and her sisters showed how much he believed in Eliza's work.  Also, getting to see how the sisters handle planning and completing parties and balls was a nice addition.  Yes, it's a total girl boss kind of story!  Nataniel's struggles with taking over as the Earl of Foxstead aren't shown in great detail but it is made clear that he feels a deep responsibility and is working tirelessly to take care of the people in his care.  They are a good pair because of their shared history but also because they want similar things out of life.  I really enjoyed how the author built up Nathaniel's secrets, in fact, the secret revealed near the end was excellent and the way it was revealed was really good.  

My one issue with the story is something I can't go into detail about without major spoilers.  Suffice to say, there is an issue that comes up early and repeatedly in the story that I thought made total sense.  Then at the end of the story the characters do the very thing that they indicated would be problematic.  I just don't understand if it magically became acceptable or if it did cause issues, but they chose to ignore it. 

This is an historical romance set in England in 1812.  It is part of a series but you can read it as a standalone story.  If you are looking for an historical romance with a bit of a mystery then give this a try.  I will definitely read more from this author in the future.
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Thank you, NetGalley and Kensington books, for the chance to read and review What Happens in the Ballroom by Sabrina Jeffries! 

What Happens in the Ballroom is the second book in the author's series, Designing Debutantes. It comes out on the 28th of March and is 281 pages long.

This book has a lot going for it, including plenty of steamy scenes and fascinating characters still recovering from toxic situations. Some of the book's villains are still around, causing the main characters to be on edge, which leads to miscommunication. The book emphasizes the importance of honesty, even when it seems like it won't help.

However, the book expected too much from its readers at times. It was hard to believe that women doing this would be accepted so readily, even after marriage into the aristocracy or with just one close relative vouching for them (and who really didn't), and the stigma of divorce in those times. I was also confused about how the author would handle the situation with the man who sneaked into the events. I'm curious to see how this will be addressed in the next book.
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This is the second book in the Designing Debutante series. This series is about 3 sisters, Diana ( book 1), Eliza and Verity. This book is about Eliza.
Eliza is a widow, who lost her husband, Sam,  several years before during the war.  She and her sisters, after being cut off by their father, have started a business called Elegant Occasions. They help arrange balls and debuts. They do everything from soup to nuts including dressing and prepping the debutantes.
Nathaniel was her husband's best friend. He has always liked and been attracted to Eliza.
When he comes home from the war, he brings home a ward, Jocelin, also a widow, but only 17 and still a minor. It's the daughter of his general, who asks him to take care of his daughter on his deathbed.
The storyline is very twisty and curvy from this point out. But suffice to say when Nathaniel hires Elegant Occasions to help introduce Jocelin into society, he reconnects with Eliza and the attraction between them is hot. You could feel the connection. I thought they were well suited to each other. That was the part I liked. 
The part I didn't like was the many twists and turns in the book, we're because of lies and secrets. One is fine, two,three, four is too much.  I don't know how you trust someone after all that, so it was a little disappointing.
I do love the Harper sisters. They watch out and take care of each other. I can't wait to read Verity's story next.
I want to thank Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book.
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This is one of those books that I wanted to like more than I actually did. There's nothing wrong with the writing or plot really, I just had a tough time getting into it. I guessed the truth about Jocelin and her baby pretty much right away (as will many who read the description). I was actually more surprised that Eliza didn't suspect anything, especially after she ruled out Nathaniel as the child's father. As for Nathaniel, my big frustration with him wasn't so much about the secrets he was keeping, but more that he kept saying he had changed his rakish ways while basically only talking to Eliza about how much he wanted her in his bed. It made me wonder if he really cared about getting to know her at all. He did grow on me as a character as the book went on. I will say that I liked the second half of the book much more than the first. It was more interesting as secrets started coming out and Nathaniel and Eliza were able to really talk about their feelings and hopes for the future.
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This was a fun, quick book continuing Sabrina Jeffries' series of three sisters trying to make a living by running a small but elegant business of catering parties and helping debutants. This time eldest sister and widow Eliza meets her match with Nathaniel, Lord Foxstead, when he asks Eliza and her sisters to help his ward Jocelin enter society in order to find a husband. While Nat and Eliza have known each other to some degree for years through her husband, spending more time together because of Jocelin leads to a slow burn romance. Neither is quite ready for marriage- Nat because of his duty to Jocelin and Eliza because her marriage and her parent's example has turned her off the idea. But the more they try to convince themselves a brief affair is all they need, the less they believe it!

I enjoyed this story, and how strong Eliza was despite what she's been through before we meet her. She works to be the strong one in the family and refuses to admit when she needs anything, even to herself, so she finds enjoying Nathaniel's company a surprise. I admire how she grew after her emotionally and psychologically abusive husband went off to war- even if he had come back I don't think he would have found her so easy to manipulate as he did when she was young and impressionable. She did what she needed to do- like start a business- because she and her sisters knew they couldn't rely on anyone but themselves. The fact that three young women were strong and smart enough to do that is great. Nathaniel knows he's emotionally attracted to Eliza early on, but he makes things complicated. By the end you understand why and from his point of view I get it. But he ended up doing quite a bit of lying- or at least playing fast and loose with the truth. He thought he was protecting people, and he was. But he had to learn that sometimes you can protect one person while trusting another at the same time. I loved that Eliza never let him get away with anything, and he had to really think and learn from his mistakes. I wish for Eliza's sake he hadn't had to make quite so many along the way, but  you were quite sure he wasn't going to repeat any of the ones he did make.

A light book about learning to trust others with your heart and becoming partners in all senses of the word, with some steamy scenes and delightfully romantic moments. Can't wait for Verity's turn!

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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I didnt quite understand the title because most of the time they aren't in the ballroom.  The secrets in this book were hard to guess and one I didnt even suspect.  Enjoyed the interactions between the characters.  Wonderful book.
I recieved a free copy so that I might tell you what I honestly think. Hope you enjoyed my review. Now go enjoy the book.
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The second book in the .Designing Debutantes series, is just as good as the first one. Once bitten, twice shy Eliza needs to differentiate between her husband’s lies and secrets to Nathaniel’s. On the other hand, Nathaniel needs to learn to trust as well as desire. I find their sense of humour and witty banter enjoyable. They are also admirable in their fairmindedness, caring and generosity. There is also a small mystery or two to unravel. Looking forward to Verity and the Phantom Fellow’s story.

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley and leaving my review voluntarily.
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This second installment was an enjoyable read. Eliza is a widow, and she ends up with her dead husband's best friend, Nathaniel. But there are secrets he is keeping from her that almost derailed this second chance at love for Eliza. 
Three characters that are not likeable, nor redeemable: the dead husband, Samuel, and Eliza's parents, particularly the father. However, they are necessary in order to help Eliza know what she did not want in a marriage. 
As for the secrets, they become obvious fairly easily. So the little bit of mystery really wasn't much of a mystery. However, considering the time period the book is set in, it made perfect sense why having those secrets revealed could be such a problem. Today's judgmental society is a walk in the park compared to the one that existed in the Regency/Victorian/Edwardian society.
A nice, enjoyable read. Looking forward to the final book of the series.
Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC, which I voluntarily read and reviewed.
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Nathaniel Stanton, the Earl of Foxstead, arrogant, proud, flighty man!
His sister Lady Teresa (Tess) Usborne and Lord Usborne her husband who live in Gloucestershire.
His ward Mrs. Jocelin Anson March,  son James (Jimmy), is the daughter of General Anson.  Nathaniel WA asked to be her guardian on the General's deathbed.

Mrs. Eliza Pierce Harper Pierce and her sisters run Elegant Occasions. Eliza is the level headed one, the numbers one for Elegant Occasions.  She is independent, strong, and a dynamic woman.
Have been asked to launch Jocelin into society. 

 Secrets, lies, half truths, and romance are blended into this tale that creates drama and suspense for us readers.  As with any Sabrina Jeffries story it is crafted with bold characters, great details, flowing in her peaks and valleys giving an unforgettable plot that has many twists and turns.  A must read that will enchant any reader
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When holding back too much is a disaster in the making…

I was surprised by the change of title, the original one matched better with the first book and the content of this story.
I do not know if it was because the main couple has already a common history but I struggled at time with their chemistry, I did not grab when their view over the other changed. As if there were a void in their relationship.
Until recently, Nathaniel never let slip any peculiar interest for the widow of his late friend. They have known one another for years, with his friend, her husband in between, who in some way still dictates their destiny from the beyond.
Why Nathaniel was like walking on eggs shells around Eliza, fully aware of his friend too many failings, betrayals, and lies.

Eliza made the mistake like many young woman to listen to a silver tongue and trust the man behind the words. It costs her her dowry and her last illusions about love and men. Why she is not keen to trust a man’s words again.
Nathaniel is like a chess player, is withholding so much, trying to lead people one way or another, always with a good heart, sure, yet he did not really overthink about the harm he could do, nor trust Eliza with a bit of knowledge to let her make a fully aware choice, weighting knowingly the risks.
And of course, Nathaniel is like his fellows, suffering the peers’ most common disease of the regency era, allergy to the marriage mart. Even, when one of his secrets finally comes out, it does not really explain it.
3.5 stars 

𝗦𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗹𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹 onscreen lovemaking scenes

I have been granted an advance copy by the publisher, here is my true and unbiased opinion.
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Nathaniel Stanton, the Earl of Foxstead, needs help finding a husband for his ward and war widow as soon as possible. He knows who can help him best and turns to his best friend's widow Eliza Pierce who co-owns Elegant Occasions, but Nathaniel is keeping secrets from her. The first is he cannot tell Eliza that he is attracted to her and that her late husband was a scoundrel. That would serve no purpose and possibly even have Eliza refusing to help him and secondly, he leaves out some pertinent details regarding his ward and her young son. Eliza knew she shouldn't trust Nathaniel. His reputation as a rake confirms for her the kind of man he is, but what if the rumors aren't true? Could she trust her heart to another when she was so hurt by her first husband?

This was a cute story with all the usual misunderstandings that make up most romances. When Nathaniel's lies are exposed, Eliza wants nothing to do with him and it's only through his groveling, that these two get their HEA. The characters aren't really deep though it was lovely to see Eliza's sisters make an appearance in the book as well. While this wasn't my favorite story, it was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon. I'm really looking forward to Verity's story, but sadly that won't be available until 2024.
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Eliza and Nathaniel have known each other for a while, in fact, Nathaniel has had a crush on Eliza for years, but she was married, and her husband was his friend. Now that Eliza is a widow working with her sisters at Elegant Occasions he is asking for her help. He is a guardian to a young woman whose father he served in the army with and she needs a husband, and Elegant Occasions is the perfect place to get one. 

Now we know from getting Nathaniel's POV that he is hiding something, and since he doesn't anticipate having anything other than lustful feelings for Eliza he has no plans to ever tell her or anyone else what this secret is. 
They have some sizzling chemistry that leads to a smexy interlude at one of their parties. a couple of earth-shattering secrets and a great apology moment that was super sweet and perfect for Eliza. 

This was fun and entertaining, I loved the banter, not only between Eliza and Nathaniel but also between Eliza and her sisters. Also, I weirdly love her butler! He just seems like a great guy lol. 

I can't wait to see who Verity ends up in the next book, I assume it's going to be the phantom man that mysteriously appears and disappears at a bunch of the events that the sisters put on.. and I'm super excited to see how that's all going to play out!
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This was a fine and predictable romance--a perfectly pleasant way to kill an afternoon, but not one likely to engage your heart or mind.

We find out in the first few sentences that Nathaniel, Earl of Foxstead, has eyes for Eliza Pierce, the widow of his former friend and military compatriot. Maybe he wants to marry her, maybe he wants to just have sex--even he's not clear, and vacillates throughout with no clear rhyme or reason. (She's not much better: an unsatisfying relationship with her husband, Samuel, has left Eliza disinclined to ever marry again...but maybe she would like to marry Nathaniel? Or maybe just have an affair? She vacillates as frequently as he does.) What Nathaniel is certain about: he wants to hire Eliza and her sisters--who run some sort of debutante-launching/party-planning service--to launch his ward, Jocelin. Jocelin is the young widow of a former soldier in Nathaniel and Samuel's company and the daughter of a well-respected general, but Nathaniel is cagey from the start and is clearly hiding things from Eliza. She nonetheless agrees to launch Jocelin, which brings her into closer proximity to Nathaniel. Can she trust him? (Of course not, but it works out in the end.)

If you've read the synopsis, chances are you can guess Nathaniel's secrets--or at least one of them. I guessed the other in Nathaniel's first interior monologue, and the only suspense I had was wondering which of my theories was right. Turns out, both were! (And I'm not the person typically solving mysteries on page 1, so there really have to be neon lights pointing out the obvious clues for me to correctly predict in advance.)

This novel has the feel of many late-90s/early-to-mid-aughts romances, so you might get a sense of nostalgia from reading it. The plot and characters feel familiar, and many of Nathaniel and Eliza's emotional progressions seem to take place because the formula says that this is the time when they will feel a certain way. Like I said: it's perfectly pleasant, perhaps because it is so predictable and follows so many of the expected beats. It's not deeply satisfying, emotionally engaging, or memorable, but not all romances need to be these things. Sometimes, a little nostalgia is just fine.
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I love Sabrina Jefferies and this book did not disappoint.  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.
I can't wait for her sister Varity's story.
I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley and these are my opinions.
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Eliza & Nathaniel's opinions of each other are colored by the past and Eliza's late husband.  Time passes and people change, but can opinions and relationships change as well?  Nathaniel needs help to keep a promise (and avoid scandal if secrets are uncovered) and reaches out to Eliza and her sisters to help another war widow find a husband and father for her young son.  Attraction sizzles between the two, but as they continue to be forced to interact they also learn more about the other beyond their past connection.  As they begin to build trust, secrets threaten to lead to heartache.  I enjoyed reading about the two discovering each other and falling in love.  The pace of the story and (primary & secondary) character interactions and reactions felt true and were well written.  In all an enjoyable and satisfying read that kept me entertained.
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I think that the writer did an excellent job of telling Eliza and Nathaniel’s love story. I absolutely loved the story. The background story as well as the romance was entertaining. I personally think that Eliza’s sisters teeter on the crazy side. I was getting a little worried about Jocilyn there. 
She had me remembering my teenage years. Nathaniel should have addressed that a long time ago. Jimmy was good character to add, but him speaking in second person was ok. The romance between Eliza and Nathaniel was very sweet. Their love affair was based on the topic of a lot of trust. 
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. #Netgally #Kennsingtonbooks
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What Happens in the Ballroom is a delightful historical romance that will transport readers to the glittering world of Regency England. Sabrina Jeffries' writing style is captivating, with a strong and independent heroine and a hero who is both charming and flawed. The Pierce sisters are a joy to behold, with their unique personalities and unwavering support for each other.

So pick up this book and enter the dazzling universe of Regency England with Sabrina Jeffries' Designing Debutantes series, where opulent celebrations, stunning gowns, and delectable romances abound. What Happens in the Ballroom, the second book in the series, follows the compelling story of Eliza Pierce, a resilient and honorable widow of a military man, who is smitten with Nathaniel - her late husband's comrade - and the guardian of a woman seeking his hand in marriage.

Their romance is filled with sizzling chemistry, witty banter, and some steamy scenes that will leave readers swooning. But as secrets threaten to ruin everything, Eliza and Nathaniel must navigate their feelings and the challenges that come with them. Will they be able to overcome the obstacles in their path and find happiness together?

One of the best things about this book is the wonderful camaraderie among the Pierce sisters. They are strong, independent, and unafraid to speak their minds. Readers will love getting to know each of them and watching as they support each other through thick and thin.

Sabrina Jeffries is a master of the genre, and her signature style is on full display in this book. Her heroines are always smart and independent, while her heroes are grumpy and lovable. And even though this book is not particularly deep or angsty, it is a delightful palate cleanser that will leave readers with a smile on their face.
So come join the party in What Happens in the Ballroom and experience the romance, glamour, and intrigue of Regency England. You won't be disappointed!
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Overall: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Plot/Storyline: 📖📖📖📖
Feels: 🦋🦋
Emotional Depth: 💔💔💔💔
Sexual Tension: ⚡⚡
Romance: 💞💞💞
Sensuality: 💋💋💋
Sex Scene Length: 🍑🍑🍑
Steam Scale (Number of Sex Scenes): 🔥🔥
Humor: A bit
Perspective: Third person from both the hero and the heroine

Should I read in order?
It’s not totally necessary. You’ll get a touch of character depth for the heroine, Eliza, in book 1 but nothing extensive.

Basic plot:
Nathaniel, her late husband’s friend, asks Eliza’s help in launching a young widow close to him into society.

Give this a try if you want:
- Regency time period (1812)
- London setting
- Best friends spouse
- Child in the story – a side character has a young son that pops in and out of page time
- A touch of instalust here
- Widow heroine (didn’t have a good marriage)
- Former soldier (Earl) hero
- Working women – heroine owns a business with her sisters called Elegant Occasions
- Medium steam – it’s a 2 steam but the page count felt shorter in this one?

- Hero is 30, heroine is 27

My thoughts:
I have read a lot of Sabrina Jeffries (This is my 21st novel by her!) and I generally do really like her. But, I find that a lot of her heroines and heroes just feel the same. Especially her heroes. And even though it’s been awhile since I have read her, I thought this one was kind of par for a lot of her other books and nothing really stood out to me or grabbed me.

I’m not a huge fan of secret keeping, or instalust really (it makes the books lower on tension and feels for me usually) so I think if those things are your jam you will enjoy this one quite a bit more than me. As it was, it was a pleasant read, but I don’t see myself returning to this novel. I liked the first book in the series quite a bit more than this one.

I also saw something about the title being changed and it was going to be An Earl for Eliza? Or something like that? I’m kind of sad about the title change. I think it works better (yay alliteration) and matches with the title from book 1. But those are just random thoughts!

I think there was quite a bit of side characters at play here with Nathaniel’s widow he’s trying to sponsor and the baggage from the past, I think the couple and their romance just got a bit lost for me here.
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Loved the first book in this series and the second is great too!

Eliza, a war widow, is the oldest sister of the trio who have opened, and to their parents horror, actually run, Elegant Occasions.  After their parents divorce left all three sisters almost destitute, and all but tossed out of society, they decided to go into trade and help young ladies make their entry into society.  

Elegant Occasions takes on Nathaniel Stanton the Earl of Foxstead's ward, Jocelyn, who is also a war widow and has a young child.  Nathaniel promised her father, his commanding officer, to help her get situated in society.  Eliza just isn't sure she is getting the complete picture!  Lots of great dialogue between Eliza and Nat as they learn they have feelings for each other, even though Eliza's dead husband, Samuel, was Nat's BFF.  Apparently Eliza's former husband was not the most truthful person and Nat feels like it was his dare that sent Samuel to war.  As the book wends it's way down the storyline, there are twists and turns you just won't see coming!

The writing is pure Sabrina Jeffries.  A very easy to read and follow book.  Even though this is the second book in the series, Ms. Jeffries weaves in enough background that if you haven't read the first in the series, you won't miss out on anything in this one.

A bit of mystery heading in to the third sisters book, with an intriguing set-up.  All in all another fine read for me.  

I received an ARC from the publisher, Kensington via Net Galley.  The review is my own.
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I always jump at the chance to read a book by Sabrina Jeffries. She writes such swoon-worthy romances, and the love story between Eliza and Nathaniel is fantastic!

A young military widow, Eliza is the eldest of the Pierce sisters. She’s a strong woman, dependable and respectable, and she works hard. Eliza has no plans to remarry, but she is so drawn to Nathaniel, and I don’t blame her! As her husband’s friend and the ward of a young woman intent to marry, Nathaniel struggles with his feelings for Eliza, his responsibilities, and his conscience. He makes mistakes and poor decisions, but ultimately, he is a good man with a big heart, and he easily won mine. I also love that Eliza doesn’t put up with any nonsense. She knows what she wants and what she deserves.

Nathaniel is officially being added to my list of swoon-worthy book boyfriends. I adore him, and the way he feels about Eliza is EVERYTHING! Every time he called her “Dearling,” I could feel my heart squeeze, and there was a scene at the end that literally had me swooning. But Nathaniel is keeping secrets from Eliza, and he knows revealing them will break her heart. They have a great romance filled with terrific banter, tons of chemistry, and some wonderfully spicy scenes.

I thought this was a great read. It’s fun and entertaining, the banter is fantastic, and I love the sisters. I’m so excited for Verity’s story in the next book. There’s a character who has been on the periphery of the story, and Verity is determined to find out who it is. Me too! It sounds like Verity is going to have an adventure and romance as swoon-worthy as her sisters.

Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.
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