Cover Image: Games in a Ballroom

Games in a Ballroom

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Member Reviews

This was a light, delightful read and a return to regency romance that I enjoyed. This book isn’t spicy and doesn’t have those kinds of scenes, however, it did have some sweet, romantic moments between the characters that really developed and built their relationship. This was a departure from my normal reads where the characters are strong, determined. Given the era of England, however, the demure female characters made sense. Overall, it was an enjoyable regency read. 
Plot: This was such a cute storyline and I honestly enjoyed how we didn’t go back in time to see how he fell in love with her, but we just got a snippet of their story; of how she falls in love with him. I also loved the game of tag they play and how it really was integral to the storyline. 
Writing: the writing was great and I enjoyed the style. 
Dialogue: The dialogue was nice between the characters. It fit and made sense, especially given the time period/location/
Character Development: While I love a strong character who knows herself, it is understandable given the time period and events why our main character isn’t necessarily a strong heroine. Or rather, she’s strong in her own way, but it’s not as obvious. She’s definitely more of a damsel in distress than I usually enjoy, I will say. 
Scenes: There are no spicy scenes in this book, which is fine. I’m so used to historical romances having these scenes though, but I didn’t notice until after the book was over. I will say, the ending was a bit abrupt and I do wish we could’ve gone with them on their journey, but still a good ending.
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I thought this was such a unique love story. I love the Regency era and the unique challenges it presents sometimes and the creative ways the hero and heroine have to find to get to know one another better and express their feelings. I thought the author did such a great job in presenting multiple points of view- I fell in love with Emerson's character almost immediately. I was totally drawn in, wanting him to figure out a way to win his love, despite their challenges. I thought the game aspect made it super interesting, and the heart behind it was so clear. You won't want to miss this delightful and fun love story!
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The idea of this was good, but it needed further development. The characters seemed one dimensional and the plot was lacking. Everything seemed focused on playing the game instead of engaging the reader. I understand this is the author’s first work and I would be interested to see what else she might write before crossing her off my list.
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CW: domestic violence, grief

I very rarely review DNFs, or books that I don't like, unless there is some problematic material I want readers to be aware of.  Because I DNFed this book, I can't provide a rating or give you information about all the content on the heat index.

I am guessing from other reviews I read that this is a kisses only book.  It is very slow paced, and centers around a young man who has decided to win the heart of his neighbor and childhood friend.  Because he feels ordinary courtship is not working, he invents a game of ballroom tag for himself and his group of friends, sister, and object of affection to play.  Its a great premise for an entertaining plot, but was ultimately not enough to provide the necessary character interest to keep me engaged.  It also couldn't combat some serious problems with plot devices.

This is a book that focuses on the ins and outs of the Season, featuring ballrooms, clubs, and dinners.  It starts very slow and, I gathered, was meant to mimic the pace of a traditional Regency.  That works when you have a sense of forward momentum, or the scenes being meaningful.  I don't know if Flint was lacing the beginning with multiple mysteries, but a lot of the scenes felt unnecessary and confusing.

Too, when you start with the premise of a friend wanting to become lover, it would be helpful as a reader to understand why.  Olivia just feels like a limp noodle on the page.  It was hard as a reader to understand why Emerson was pushing so hard to "win" her, except for a couple references to his father's death being the catalyst to reflect.  And I just am not comfortable with using parental death as a good motive for marriage.

My biggest reason to DNF was that, without content warning, this book centers some of its conflict on Olivia and her mother being victims of domestic violence.  Its not graphic in its presentation, but almost as shocking in the way Flint uses it as plot device.  I have read widely in the genre and am no stranger to a variety of plots, characters, and subject material.  Traditionals don't typically tackle difficult subject matter because they tend to be "cozy" or light, following a readers preference.  However, when Regencies do, its always with some greater purpose.

Again, this may be revealed in the second half, but I was too disenchanted to continue.

I will say that lots of other advanced readers enjoyed this book, so if you are comfortable with the content warnings, you may seek out other reviews to see if this book is right for you.
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Oh my goodness this book was amazing!! I loved it. The characters were engaging, the ideas were different than typical regency romances. It brought a bit of happiness to my soul.
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"He leaned over her, his mouth close to her own, and she could not look away. His smile grew, and his eyes briefly dipped to her lips. 'Are you going to let me go?' she asked, breathless. She could feel the water bubbling perilously beneath her. 'Not if I can help it.'"

What a delightful and surprising read! If you think you know what to expect from a regency romance story with ballrooms and proper London society, then think again. This book was such a cool opportunity to gain a new, playful perspective on the lighter side of regency flirting. A hidden look or a stolen moment during a dance is all well and fun, but getting to see these characters play an inconspicuous game of tag and other fun games while flouncing about in society was fun and unique. There's also another aspect of "game playing" as the struggles of wealth and status impact the marriage prospects and parental expectations of our two main characters. I loved the strong, intelligent female friendship between Olivia and Arabella just as much as I enjoyed the charming trio of gentlemen who all have their own fun with each other throughout this story. This story kept me on my toes and had me turning page after page to see how these two could make their own happily ever after possible. A couple unexpected twists and turns, several laughs and lots of swoony kisses will have this book on my mind long after I read the last page. So glad I picked this book up! Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.
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Such a great book. First of, I loved the cover!! Second, I loved all the little games incorporated into the book. The author did a great job developing the characters and I was quickly pulled into the story. Well done.
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Games in a Ballroom is a regency romance by Jentry Flint. It includes friends to lovers, best friend’s older brother, and forbidden love tropes.

I love regency romances, but I have read so many that lately I have felt like all the plots are the same. Games in a Ballroom however was so fresh and unique! Emerson and Olivia have been friends since childhood and Emerson is determined to marry Olivia. However, Olivia’s controlling father has forbidden her from marrying any untitled gentleman, thus removing Emerson from the running. But this doesn’t stop Emerson from trying. In an effort to court Olivia without her father’s knowledge, Emerson initiates a game of tag their group of friends can play at the balls they attend. But even if Emerson secures Olivia’s affection, how will they convince her father to allow them to get married? 

There are so many things I love about this book! Emerson’s playful spirit, the many different games the characters play, Emerson & Olivia’s group of friends, and the pig. I sincerely hope we get to see more of this fun group and their antics!

The main thing I loved about this book was the plot. I felt like it had a good pace, there was always something happening to move the story forward. From the games to the pranks to the romance I had a hard time putting this book down! 

I also thoroughly enjoyed the characters. Although I didn’t feel like they grew a ton, I did love that throughout the book they found happiness and their respective burdens were lightened. I found the characters easy to connect with and enjoyed their playful banter and camaraderie. Olivia & Arabella’s “Name that Shakespeare Play” game reminded me of how my sister and I quote movies together. Emerson and his two best friends reminded me of Sarah M. Eden’s Jonquil brothers with their playfulness and loyalty. 

Overall this was such a fun story to read! It was very entertaining, had all the elements of a clean historical romance that I love, but was unique and refreshing. 

If you enjoy clean regency romances, playing games, charming, determined, swoony gentleman, and loyal friends who are always up for a bit of mischief, you definitely need to check out Games in a Ballroom! 

I received a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions expressed are my own.
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I was really excited by the title and premise of this book.  Games in a Ballroom sound like great fun, and the idea of a game of tag across ballrooms was really appealing.  The execution, however, fell flat for me.  The characters were flat as well, seeming to be character sketches rather than fully fleshed individual.  Their inner lives were sparse and repetitive.  The Hero was bound by duty. The Heroine was afraid of her father.  Even the setting gave me pause since the London season took place during Spring and Summer, but these balls are during cold weather months.  I do think the author has potential, and I'd like to see her work grow and mature.
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Thank you NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for an eARC access to Games in a Ballroom by Jentry Flint. 

In 1815 London, Emerson Latham must usher his family through the loss of his father. But while assisting his sister through her first year of balls and courting, he can't seem to keep his eyes off of his sister's best friend Olivia Wilde. But unfortunately, Olivia Wilde is being instructed by her aggressive, and albeit violent father, to land a man with a title. Something Emerson doesn't have. To encourage more time with Olivia, Emerson proposes a friendly game of tag, to get more time with Olivia and convince her, while without a title, he can provide her a life worth living. She just needs to forget about her father. 

Rating: 3/5 - This was a sweet, regency romance. It was a clean romance, where you can't help but love Emerson for his commitment to his love for Olivia, no matter what rationale others told him, which is super swoon worthy. I wanted to like this book more than I did, but I just couldn't keep my attention focused on it - But I think for fans of clean romances and regency time, it would be a better fit for them!
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Olivia Wilde’s father is set on her marrying a man with a title to raise their standing in society. But his choices of men leave Olivia dreading the future ahead of her. Emerson Latham is trying to settle into his new role after the passing of his father and it has not been easy. Add to that having to watch the woman he loves be paraded around by her father, looking for a titled man, and the season looks very bleak. Emerson believes they both deserve some fun, so with the help of their childhood friends they set up a game of tag to carry them from one ballroom to another. And just maybe Emerson can convince Olivia of his feelings for her and they can figure out a way to be together.

This was a charming book. The pacing was a little slower than I expected, but I didn’t mind it in the end. I always enjoyed reading it when I picked it up. The whole cast of characters was delightful. (I very much hope some secondary characters get their own books in the future.) The concept of a subtle game of tag during a ball was great and I loved how every character embraced the game. It made for some fun banter and sweet moments for Olivia and Emerson. Which was nice since there were also some heavier situations being dealt with outside the ballroom. But the balance of serious and playful was good. The romance was clean and slow burn and has a very satisfying HEA.

If you like a charming friends-to-lovers historical romance featuring a good amount of ballroom antics then you’ll enjoy this book.
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I loved the premise of this book and reading it did not disappoint! The games were fun, the characters were great and it was just a sweet romance all around!
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Mr. Emerson Latham is in love with his childhood friend, Olivia Wilde and has decided that he’s going to marry her. However, there are two obstacles to his plan. The first is Olivia and getting her to realize he loves her. The second, and even bigger obstacle, is her father. Mr. Wilde has made his fortune through trade and now covets a title. Olivia is the key to him getting his wish by marrying an indebted earl, no matter their love for her or their character.

Emerson’s always been known to play games and accept crazy challenges, so it’s not surprising when he proposes playing Tag at ballroom events. What Olivia doesn’t know is this is how Emerson plans on courting her! Playing along and orchestrating time to be alone with Olivia are his two best friends, Lord Northcott and Mr. Bradbury.  These two men proved to be the best kind of friends you could ever want. 

Emerson is just the man that Olivia needs in her life. Breaking free from her domineering and brutish father will take great courage and determination. Emerson truly knows who Olivia is under her gaudy, costly garments and challenges her to live up to her name, Liv Wilde. With that kind of love and support, Olivia realizes she can be bold and live a life of happiness and freedom.  

Other games are played and become key in carrying out Emerson’s plan as circumstances for Olivia (Liv) and her mother become dangerous. Hide and Seek was my favorite part of the story as Mr. Wilde is unknowingly a participant.  I have never seen games be a part of a story before and thought it was ingenious!  I hope there is a sequel for Emerson’s friends and bluestocking sister.

TW: violent, abusive father and husband

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Shadow Mountain, for a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Games in a ballroom by Jentry Flint is a classic Regency love story with a playful twist.

Fearing that her social-climbing father would never consent to a marriage between himself and Olivia, Emerson, with the help of his friends and sister, sets out to discreetly court her by playing games in a ballroom.

Flint cleverly weaves her games theme throughout her novel; she takes it beyond the ballroom and into London society at large and caps it off with the ultimate game of hide and seek. 

The story is almost evenly split between the hero and heroine’s point of view allowing the author to develop both characters equally in depth and the reader to enjoy their burgeoning romance twice over.

The supporting cast of game players are also interesting in their own right and, I hope, will each be further developed in their own novel in the future. 

Games in a ballroom is a quick and charming read that will please fans of Regency roma
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♡Tag x Regency♡
Synopsis:

Emerson Latham, sobered by responsibility he has inherited through his fathers passing, is ready to settle down, and he has just the lady in mind for the job. He holds a tendre for his childhood friend & sister's best friend, Miss Wilde. There are two impediments to that goal:
1.He is deep in the trenches of the Friendzone and oblivious Olivia can't seem to pick up any flirting cues (which, girl same.)
2.If he manages to overcome the above, then he still must contend with Mr Wilde's decree that his daughter will only be wed to one baring a title; one Latham is sorely without.

Olivia Wilde (Not the starlet,) aka Liv Wilde (not the homophone of the motto,) is unaware she is the target of a wooing. Due to their longstanding friendship, whenever he asks for a dance she assumes it is out of politeness to his sisters friend or neighborly duty. When he flirts she is unsure of his sincerity, and she takes it for teasing.

Olivia is not one to put much merit in words, unlike her BFF Miss Arabella Latham, to who the Bard's word is as good as gospel. Olivia doesn't care for superficial compliments; a fortunate thing as her dresses put the 'gad' in 'gaudy.' Here's a helpful rule of thumb: If Caroline Bingley would wear it, Olivia has it. See, for some reason, her Father, who is new money & uncouth, makes the fashion calls, and he likes whatever costs the most & is the flashiest, to exhibit his wealth, irregardless of style.

Perhaps this is why Olivia is rarely asked to dance and has become a wallflower, which leaves her in a precarious situation, as her fathers social climbing hopes are pinned on her making an advantageous match, propelling them from tainted trade into venerated gentry. Defecting from this plan in not an option, as Mr Wilde is always on a knives edge, and if Olivia doesn't do as told, he will take it out on both her- verbally- and on her mother -physically.

With the season in full swing, playing wingman to Emerson's romantic pursuit are his two best mates. There is Bradbury, a lovable scamp who enjoys to gamble, and sees no need to abandon his bachelorhood, he gives flashes of Barney from HIMYM. And Lord Northcott, aka Beasty, aka the brooding baron, all in reference to his imposing height and somber demeanor- evidently a Darcy type.

Emerson surmises he must resort to unconventional courting methods to escape the jaws of the Friendzone. Having his head in the game, he suggests one of tag. This may seem out of left field, but with Emerson it is a pattern, literally all his solutions to any obstacle dropped in his path are a result of an arrested development with childhood games.

His friends: Hey Emerson, why not attempt to be more transparent & blatant in courting her?
Emerson: No, tag is the only way. Courting was never an option. Tag is love, tag is life.

At times it gets a bit over the top, as it ALL comes back to the game. Every favor, argument, supplication.. Were one of the characters to drop dead, I wouldn't be surprised if their final breath would be wasted on the utterance, 'Please, finish the game. For me.’

All the while, they must be discrete when tagging one another, adding an an extra layer to the game. If they were caught, it would be the height of impropriety.

Tag is not the only recreation the group will partake in, there are games within the game- a gameception, if you will! All the classics you remember from childhood feature fittingly when called for.

I can't think of a better theme for a courtship where the gentleman hasn't expressly stated his intentions than children's games, since isn't that what dating in general feels like? Childish mind games, played by stunted adults- ehem. Not bitter. I digress.

Will love be in the cards for Emerson & Olivia? Or will Olivia be forced to accept the hand she was dealt and marry a title irregardless of a want of affection? Might a titled suitor have something up his sleeve? Will Emerson's tag game prove to be the trump card? Or-- ok I'm sorry, I'll cease with the puns. I can feel the wrath building through the screen.

The Brass Tacks:

It was slow to get into, but by second half I couldn't put it down. This is not a story where you will find angst, or incredible depths of characters, but it was well rounded. It was always subtly funny, not in your face, but intrinsically so. The dialogue was solid, with some lines that stood out, the characters all distinguished, and the resolution satisfying. All in all, a charming debut.

I love the theme of youth bound by strictures finding small pockets of fun and loop holes to slip through. Irregardless of their descending roles as masters and ladies in the marriage mart, they find a way to be playful, in almost small rebellion. It is the true universal attitude, the desire to find those with whom you feel safe to be silly. To bring out your inner clown. Not It.

This novel inspired me to fit more games in, to create new & keep old inside jokes betwixt bosom friends; thus keeping the torch of whimsy eternally lit. Sometimes tis all too easy to forget to make time for some lighthearted silliness, and that reminder has made this yarn all the worth while.

Whichever ballrooms life takes you to, whether be it one at the Met or the Marriott, tis never too late to squeeze in some games.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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I received a copy of this story from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a good book while you're in the thick of it but once it's over, it's easy to set aside and pick up a different book. It's entertaining and a bit unique but it doesn't linger.

The premise of adults not wanting to be adults and playing one last round of childish games resonates with me. It isn't a view we often get from historical romances in this time period so I appreciated that. And the look into the unsavory inner workings of a wealthy family were a twist I wasn't quite expecting but found intriguing. The happy ending made me happy, if it did feel a bit rushed. I would have liked one more chapter or an epilogue.

My biggest issue is with the main characters and the romantic arc. Emerson and Olivia had so much potential and never delivered on it. I wanted to see more of the Olivia that Emerson fell in love with but we never got that chance. I also wanted to see them fall in love but we were robbed of that, too. It just kind of happened and the story kept moving. 

Honestly, I found Lord Northcott and Arabella more interesting.

Any lover of historical fiction will enjoy reading this but it wouldn't be the first story I recommend in this genre.
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I wasn't super impressed by this one, but that might have been a case of unmet expectations. Based on the description I was hoping for a high-stakes, fun, steamy regency romance, but that's not what was delivered. I felt a whole lot of nothing for the characters of this book, and am not sure if I would recommend it to my romance-loving friends.
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"He was not certain he would not rather face down an infantry of soldiers"
"He wanted the spitfire he had grown up with, not the subdued debutante he witnessed at balls"
"What is life if not a fated adventure?"
If you liked Bridgerton , this is the book for you!
I loved every moment of this story starting from the setting, the gowns and the balls till the games , the intrigues and the passionate love story developing in it. This book was exactly what I was looking for to get out of a reading slump and , in a very strange way, get me ready for the Christmas mood. 
There's something incredibly lovely about reading of ballrooms and gentlemen and ladies during their seasons while approaching to winter.
Olivia is an amazing leading female character. She is witty, fast- minded and she enjoys playing game once in a while.
Emerson? Emerson is just a perfect gentleman who's been raised with the belief that the really important thing in life is to be happy and make your loved ones happy in turn ... not assure economical stability not matter what.
I loved reading about the teasing and the continue banters and Arabella's characters was just the perfect adding ingredient to make it all funnier. Maybe we're gonna hear more about her ... I really wish we will. 
This story was easy to get into with a fluent writing style that lets you follow the plot and the characters without problem.
Everyone should read it !
"Surely nothing bad could come from playing a harmless child's game"
"She would play one game for him and pray her father was not in attendance"
"He could search the world over and never find another who called to him like she did"
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This was a fun and exciting novel to read! I loved the author’s voice in describing the world of Regency England. I could definitely tell she put effort and research into making the story realistic, while also adding romantic flair. General imagery used helped expand the scope of this story for me, as many characters felt fleshed out with their own backstories waiting to be revealed. Emerson’s friends and sister intrigued me the most and were integral to the story, which leads me to believe some may get sequels in the future. 

            Emerson and Mr. Wilde, Olivia’s father, were foils, which added dimension. Mr. Wilde and Emerson are both untitled, yet each have opposing views on marriage and class which play into an overarching theme of the novel. I loved this dynamic writing-wise, but at times felt it was a detriment to Olivia’s character. She has to choose between following her heart or her father’s wishes. However, her father can be abusive with threats and punishments. Compared to a loveless marriage like her parents’, Olivia would be inclined to fall for someone so different than her father – like Emerson – to escape. This is only worth mentioning because the romance wasn’t as organic as I’d hoped, as Olivia and Emerson don’t really connect in a mental sense as far as I could tell. I would have liked more serious conversations between them, less “inconveniences” because they misunderstand each other but won’t talk it out, etc. Also, Olivia and Emerson will mention how they “used to” act a certain way but have changed because of recent events, ones which happened before the novel started. I feel like their growth could have been shown some more, but I also like the development of both characters rediscovering themselves through love, so this is just a nitpick.

           Overall, I enjoyed the messages about grief, love, and merit featured in this novel. The characters were interesting and memorable, the setting was expansive, and the climax was exciting. Both leads are distinct from others within their social rank during the time period (ideologically and in character), but still mostly act within a realistic set of boundaries for said time period. I would recommend this novel for any Regency fan.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book I received from the publisher through Netgalley. All views expressed are my unbiased opinion.
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Games in a Ballroom by Jentry Flint, 272 pages. Shadow Mountain Publishing, 2022. $16.
Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG
BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE
AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE
From Emerson’s perspective, he’s been subtly courting Olivia because he doesn’t have a title -- the one requirement of Olivia’s father for her future husband. From Olivia’s perspective, Emerson has been asking her to dance out of pity for her lack of dance partners during her second season. Emerson suggests that they discreetly play tag at subsequent balls as another excuse to interact with Olivia, but Olivia can’t afford to play any games with her heart.
The story of Emerson and Olivia is a fun one because you never know what is going to happen next. Emerson and his friends entertain themselves, and readers, with their constant antics that push society’s boundaries -- and there are a couple games I would love to play myself! Flint balances the seriousness of domestic violence with the joys of fighting for a happily ever after. 
Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen
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