Olivia Wilde has resigned herself to never finding a love match. Her father has insisted she marry a man with a title, if only to increase his own standing and reputation in society. But the men her father deems acceptable are, at best, boring and uninspiring, and at worse, are as brutish as her father, and are only looking to increase their own diminishing coffers. With her future looking dismal, Olivia decides to enjoy the last few months of freedom with her childhood friends, including the handsome Emerson Latham. His devilish smile and flirtatious teasing stirs up feelings she knows she cannot entertain.
Emerson is struggling to rise to his responsibilities after the death of his father. Though he might still be learning what he needs to do as the head of his household, one thing he knows for sure is that he wants Olivia Wilde to be his wife. Having grown up as childhood friends with Olivia, Emerson long ago had fallen in love with her quick wit, beauty, and passionate heart. However, without a title, he will never be permitted to court Olivia openly. But he has a plan that may give him a chance to court her in secret.
As the season kicks off, Emerson proposes a bit of fun with a playful game of tag. Olivia’s friends are delighted by the idea, though Olivia is more wary. After all, the game must be played in secret and they must be discreet when tagging each other at dinners and balls and the theater. As the romance builds between Olivia and Emerson, so does the risk of being discovered. Not only are their reputations at stake, so is their safety if they are caught by Olivia’s father, who has an explosive, and at times violent, temper.
Can their love find a happily ever after before the game ends?
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 27 members
What an enjoyable read. I loved the core group of the 5 characters with emphasis on Liv and Emerson. My only complaint is with the rather abrupt ending. I would have liked to see the father get his due and for the Lord the father was backing to get some comeuppance of some kind.
Games in a Ballroom by Jentry Flint is a wonderful, fun, and charming historical romance that had me feeling like a young adult all over again! I loved this book! It is so unique and refreshing. Olivia and Emerson are childhood friends. Both have their own constraints and obligations. Both feel pressured, cornered, and unlucky. But what Olivia doesn’t know is that Emerson is totally smitten and in love. Through the ingenious plot of creating fun, games, and secrets, Emerson works to build trust, affection, and a relationship with Olivia all under the radar of the ever-sweeping family. I truly enjoyed the banter, wit, snappy dialogue, sweet premise, and the pacing of the story. Throw in the wonderful character cast, the true chemistry, and matching of the main characters: Olivia and Emerson…and one has an excellent book. Did I say I also loved the uplifting and heartwarming ending?! Spot on. I look forward to more from this author. 5/5 stars Thank you NG and Shadow Mountain Publishing for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately (as of 9/25/21 no BB listing has been created and review will be posted and links updated when title is added) and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.
This was my first read from the author, and for (I think?) her first historical romance... she did a pretty good job! I'm not too big when it comes to the friends to lovers relationship - since it is never really done well - but this one I didn't seem to dislike it. I actually enjoyed it. It was sweet watching him attempt to woo her in 'games' than in a normal attempt of courting. I also felt bad for the main character, because her father is an abusive male and she and her mother are left to his devices. I also liked the friends of our hero? I felt that if the author wanted to write more stories that featured them she could. She did build them up to have relationships - one of which was his sister with the gruff and moody friend that did nothing but read. The reason I did not rate it a full star is because I felt that it was a little odd that this game was even played to begin with? I mean, he said that the normal way of courting her wasn't working. However, I felt that I didn't see him actually attempt to court her. If he would have been honest about his feelings and actually let her know he loved her then I don't think this game would have even took place. If you're looking for a sweet/cute historical romance, I'd recommend this book.
A fun and quick read, with characters to root for and villains to despise! Just reading the description alone had me excited to dive in. I was so very curious to see how this small group of ladies and gentlemen from the ton would go about playing tag of all things during society events! I have to give points on originality, I’ve read so many historical romance books set in the regency era and I’ve never come across adults playing tag! It was fun and investing. For a romantic male lead to use such a game as a chance to court the lady he loves. I thought that was interesting but as you begin to read more and learn about who these characters are… well then I found it brilliant! I quickly became enamored with the characters introduced in this story. From Emerson and his sister Arabella to Emerson’s friends Lord Bradbury and Lord Northcott and oh how my heart ached for Olivia Wilde and her circumstances! I think that’s what’s important in books like these, to have characters that grip your attention and heart so that they don’t blend in with all the other stories out there. I think my only complaint about this book was that it left me wanting more, like an epilogue, a few more details after all the high drama towards the end of the book would have been so appreciated. It felt a tad bit abrupt as is. My hope is that the reason I didn’t get an epilogue was because there will be more details with a future book set in this universe. One focusing on Arabella and Lord Northcott perhaps? Or one of the anti marriage- Lord of charm, Bradbury? Basically I want more of this universe and i definitely want more games (played discreetly) in the balls and events of the ever prim and proper ton. I cannot wait to get my hands on a physical copy of this book!
A compelling book of struggling to find your happiness Emerson has been trying to catch Olivia’s eye and make her aware of his interest in courting her but she sees his attentions as just her best friend’s big brother trying to be nice. Little does he know that she is interested in him. But their mutual interest is irrelevant to the reality Olivia faces. Her father is a violent man, prone to rages and not above hurting his wife. And he will only accept Olivia marrying a man wit h a title. Character, age, finances, holdings, nothing matters except the title, any title and Emerson does not have a title, therefore, he does not qualify. Unfortunately, Olivia’s father insists on approving her clothing and when he is satisfied Olivia stands out in the crowd because of the gaudiness of her attire, which is not helpful to his cause. Of course, her father will not hear that he is wrong. Olivia doesn’t confront him from a real and honest fear not only for herself but for her mother, who frequently is hiding bruises. But Emerson is determined to win Olivia, so he begins a game of tag to be played by himself, his two friends, Olivia, and his sister while they are attending events with dancing. Just as things seem to be moving in as Emerson desires, Olivia’s father finds a titled peer, Lord Valencourt, willing to accept Olivia, undoubtedly for a good price. Lord Valencourt appears to be just as prone to anger and violence as Olivia’s father but if Olivia doesn’t comply, what will happen to her mother? If Olivia does comply what will happen to her? What can Emerson possibly do when confronted with the situation not only effecting Olivia but her mother as well? Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the copy. This is my review and all thoughts are my own.
Over the course of his life, Olivia Wilde's dad worked hard and became very rich, and the only thing he lacks is a title. Olivia is in her second Season, and he expects her to marry. Emerson has been friends with Olivia since childhood, and he loves her vivacious spirit. He hopes to marry her, but is saddened when her vivacious spirit is snuffed out by her overbearing (and aggressive) father. Emerson decides to start a game of "tag" that their group of friends can play at balls as a way to interact with Olivia and to coax some spirit back into her. When I first read the summary, I was skeptical that it was going to be anything other than majorly cheesy and awkward. While I still think that Emerson simply talking to Olivia about his feelings would have been the most reasonable course of action, Flint somehow made the game of tag work. While still a little cheesy, it was whimsical and romantic, and she did an admirable job of providing Emerson's reasoning for why he felt the game was necessary. Olivia and Emerson are fabulous characters, and I loved Emerson as a romantic lead. I would not hesitate to recommend this to reader who enjoy a clean period romance. It was a light and fun read that I looked forward to picking up each evening. I received a free, advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion and review.
This is my first experience with a novel written by Jentry Flint. I enjoyed the story ands found it to be an easy and intriguing read. I look forward to reading more of her novels. Olivia Wilde knows she must obey her sometimes violent father's wishes and marry whom he chooses. She must protect her mother. When childhood friend Emerson Latham encourages the group of friends play some games, like tag, secretly during society events, Olivia knows she should avoid playing. If her father were to discover the games, she and her mother would be in trouble. But she decides a little bit of freedom and fun may be just what she needs before she is committed to her fate. What she didn't plan on, is falling in love with Emerson.
Not my favorite, but not my least favorite. The romance was so one-sided for most of the book that it threw me off when Liv began to reciprocate. Also, reading elaborate descriptions of pranks is never actually very fun (certainly not as fun as watching or participating!), and I found that the whole pranking thing to be more of a distraction than anything.
'Games in a Ballroom' is mostly a cozy, entertaining read, but this is unfortunately one of those books where the supporting cast is much more interesting than the two main characters. Emerson is infatuated with Olivia from the very beginning but I don't think the book does a good job of explaining why, when or how. Maybe flashbacks to their earlier friendship would've helped with this while also developing Emerson and Olivia more. Emerson's also too controlling for my liking (this is probably supposed to be seen as romantic and persistent), which is odd if he's supposed to be a foil to Olivia's domineering father.
Games in a Ballroom is certainly an interesting and original idea for a historical novel. I was very intrigued when I first saw the book's description and was excited to read it. Now, having read it, it reminds me of a movie I saw a preview for about a group of friends that play tag as adults, so not sure if this in the inspiration for the novel or not, but it seemed very similar. Oftentimes, historical novels describe how restricting and judgmental society could be, so livening things up with a secret game amongst friends sounds like a good idea. The game is suggested because Emerson wants to court Liv, but I don't see how the game really helped him with his pursuit of her heart. Certainly, the game helped bring a little bit of the "old Liv" back, who she was before her father tried to form her into the perfect daughter worthy to marry a titled Lord. But again, I don't know how her risking her father's ire to play a game helped her develop or recognize feelings for Emerson. Despite the odds of them finding a happily ever after together, you were rooting for them to succeed and find love. As far as the characters go, both the main and side characters were all interesting and I enjoyed reading about them and their addition to the story. They are each unique and seemingly burdened in their own way and I can tell they have a story to tell and had just hoped to learn a little bit more about them. I certainly hope they get their own books and space to tell their stories. There was a little bit of immaturity involved with the games and pranks that felt a little bit too forced for the characters, time period and society. The end of the novel tied up rather nicely but quickly, compared to the danger they were risking throughout the whole story. I think I would've enjoyed a little epilogue or follow up. Overall, this book was a fun idea and uniquely original and I would recommend this book.
Olivia Wilde's father made a fortune in shipping and investments. He now insists that Olivia, who is in her second season, marry only someone with a title. This will ensure that his doors and business will be open to the upper crust. Emerson doesn't have a title and is the older brother of Olivia's best friend. He declares to his two friends that he plans to woo and wed Olivia. (An unusual move in a historical romance.) When he realizes she takes his asking her to dance as pity and not courting, he decides to create a game to be played during balls. I enjoyed the core group of the MCs, his friends and sister. But playing the game of tag in person is more fun than reading about it in a book. He could have spoken to Olivia about his intentions to court her but the main obstacle isn't addressed which is her father. I thought there might have been efforts to befriend or prove Emerson's worth to the father. Instead we get silly hijinks involving a pig which didn't increase my opinion of Emerson. (I understand the purpose from the book, but still.) In other stories like this, the father usually comes round to the idea of the daughters love is most important, but that isn't the direction the author takes. So I didn't love how things work out with her father. I'm guessing the author is setting up his two friends or his sister as future books. I would read their stories. This is clean for language and contains a few kisses. This book would be fans of proper romances YA and up. Thank you NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for an ARC ebook in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing and NetGalley for the review copy. GAMES IN A BALLROOM follows Emerson Latham’s attempt to woo his sister’s best friend—a friend convinced that he cares for her out of brotherly duty and whose father is aggressively determined that she marry a titled gentleman. Olivia Wilde knows two things: Emerson is off-limits to her and this is to be her last Season because her father is determined that she marry. When Emerson suggests a game of tag to play in secret at Society events, she decides to risk her father’s wrath and join in the fun. What’s merely a game of fun for their friends is of the highest of stakes for Emerson and Olivia. This was a very quick read with a premise that I have not encountered in a historical romance, though I hesitate to label it as such as it sits outside the mold of what is typically expected from the genre. The introduction of childhood games into the ballroom snagged my interest but I felt that the writing could have benefitted with deeper characterization. Emerson’s tendency to make a game of everything could have benefitted from a counterbalance of more vulnerability, and it would have been nice to perhaps see some of the history between them that caused him to fall in love with Olivia before she was of marriageable age. I also occasionally found myself pulled out of the story by the use of contemporary language and some of the wilder elements of the story. Overall, this is an entertaining and refreshing take on the regency era that is best read with a healthy suspension of disbelief. Just the idea of people in full dress attire darting through the crowd to surreptitiously tag a co-conspirator has me chuckling. Compared to other historical romances, this one is squeaky clean but does include heavy themes of parental abuse.
Thank you to Jentry Flint and NetGalley for providing me with this free advance copy in exchange for an honest review. After Olivia fails to notice Emerson’s attempt to court her and to avoid her father’s unsuitability concerns, Emerson proposes a game of tag to be played. While the premise sounded good, the characters were a bit underdeveloped and the plot a little far fetched (even for a Victorian romance).
Fun Regency romp by a promising new author. I wasn't sure what to expect with this one but it turned out to be a lot of fun. Tag in the ballroom! Who would have thought. What a clever idea. The H&h had a real connection, having been friends for a time and that always makes for a good story. Emerson's friends were excellent supporting characters and I really hope the Brooding Baron gets a story. I would have liked to see the ending a bit more tied up but it wasn't a bad ending by any means. Overall I give this a solid 4 stars for clean Regency readers.
A book that I really enjoyed right from the start. There was no long back story as the leading couple are childhood friends and neighbors. The book is a slice of life where Emerson is in love with Liv and how he goes about courting her with humor and a wonderful game of tag. His friends are well written and I hope they get a book of their own as they are supportive and loyal. The writing is in keeping with the time and I never felt it was too modern but the description never gets too bogged down in detail. The books is also a tale of 2 families, one that has love and the other abuse. I would have liked an Epilogue as to what happens are things are tied up.
Emerson Latham faces unusually dire odds for a romance hero, denied the allure of a reformed rake and the angst of a tragic past (though his two best friends do look promising in both respects as potential leads for future novels). He is... a Nice Guy. I confess, I love books built on strong friendships... but being Friend Zoned is hardly what Emerson hoped for all those times when he asked Olivia to dance with him. Fortunately for him, Olivia and Arabella (her best friend, and Emerson's sister) agree to join a secret game of tag that the five friends play at Season balls, But "the course of true love never ran smooth" to quote Shakespeare, Arabella's favorite author. Olivia's father is determined to see his daughter marry into the aristocracy. Emerson's rival is Lord Voldemort--sorry, sorry! Lord Valencourt, a villain hiding dark secrets, but the most chilling aspect of the novel is the specter of domestic violence. I was hooked and speed reading by the final chapters, caught up in the suspense. Three plus stars, rounded up for a first book: I look forward to finding out what happens next. Thank you to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for the opportunity to review an advance copy of Games in a Ballroom.
A quick, light-hearted book. The idea of using children’s games as a plot device really appealed to me, but the execution fell a little short. The characters were a little flat, all depending on one character trait over and over (Arabella loves Shakespeare, Northcott barely speaks, etc.). There was no explanation about why the main pair loved each other, which is important in a romance. A fun concept, but it just didn’t pan out as I would have liked.
I really LOVED this book. I am a fan of the friends-to-lovers trope, and this book did it so successfully. I loved watching the characters realize the feelings they had for each other. The overall premise of the book - the tag game during balls - was a little silly. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that these young men and women probably had to find ways to entertain themselves just as we do today. So I accepted that their behavior was a bit out of character for the standards of the time period. The author seemed to set up some stories for the minor characters that could be future novels, so I hope to spend some time with these delightful characters again soon! I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves some playful fun with their clean historical romances. Thank you to NetGalley, Shadow Mountain Publishing, and Jentry Flint for the opportunity to read this novel in exchange for my honest opinions!
Rating: 3.8 / 5 **Received free ARC from Netgalley for honest review** For all intents and purposes, this is a charming Regency romantic comedy, with definite influences of being a Jane Austen fan--as all writers who tackle the Regency era are, I guess. It centres around Emerson Latham and Olivia Wilde, childhood friends who make up two thirds of the trio that also includes Arabella Latham, Emerson's sister. See, Emerson's got a problem: he's head over heels in love with Olivia (whom he called Liv as in "live wild"), but she doesn't know it yet. Not only does Olivia still see him as just Arabella's brother at the beginning of the story, but Emerson also doesn't have the title that qualifies him as a suitor in the eyes of Olivia's father, a self-made (but rich) man, Joshua Wilde. With a lot of the plot taking place in ballrooms as Olivia's father desperately tries to secure her a match with a title, Emerson decides to press his suit in an unconventional way when the usual conventions fail to get through Olivia's dense exterior. Namely, he proposes a game of tag. No, seriously. At first, even to the reader, it's confusing just what this game is intended to do since...tag = courting seems like a kindergarten tactic, right? And...yeah, it kind of is, honestly, and no amount of posh-sounding description changes that. But it's...cute, and kind of entertaining to see Emerson get more and more frustrated with making things work whereas Olivia as no idea what she's in for via this unconventional method of courting. Add to that Arabella's obsession with Shakespeare and Emerson's two opposite friends (the cheerful gambler Bradbury and the brooding baron whose name I forget) and you've got a group of funny characters in this romance, therefore making it a historical romantic comedy. Now, usually these books are not my cup of tea, but because of the Austen-like description and, I'll admit, especially because of the cover, I decided to give it a try. And, for the most part this was a gamble that paid off, as I actually ended up mostly liking the story. ....Until the last quarter which...though not quite a trainwreck ending, was the author pushing things too far in my opinion, to the point that they get silly rather than endearing. Basically, Olivia's father is painted as a villain far out of proportion to how a person would realistically be and act, and becomes almost monstrous in a Gothic novel way that's juxtaposed with the rest of the romantic-comedy setup. Then, there's the fact that Olivia's character is compromised in the process as well and becomes just plain stupid in her decisions, which of course necessitates Emerson coming in to "rescue" her from herself. Yeah, that entire rescue bit at the end is cheesy, cliché, and not very well done. Maybe the author thought that the plot needed to be spiced up by all that action at the end because of the otherwise slow-ish paced rest of the book but... ...yeah, not a decision that I particularly liked, to be honest. Just having Olivia realize her feelings for Emerson was enough of a revelation and climax, thank you very much, and quite frankly it would have been truer to the Austen fashion that way as well. But oh well, Jentry Flint is obviously no Jane Austen, so that comparison's unfair from the get go. Still, this book was a lot better than I was expecting it to be, and I can definitely see a lot of people liking it as well. Will it ever be "great"? I doubt it. BUT, it could be a lovely addition to someone else's romance shelves out there. Give it a try.
** spoiler alert ** I really liked the characters and the interaction between Olivia and Emerson and Arabella and Northcott because they fit together. I loved the dancing and the talking. Outside the game part everything the couples did made me smile and wish for more of that then the game part. The story between Olivia and Emerson is touching, but the games that started as fun seem to derail the reason why they were started. One of the game is to make Olivia realized that Emerson loved her and the other game was to have some fun by letting a pig loose in the gentleman's club but to me both games seem not as fun as they were suppose to be. The game seem to get Olivia into more trouble with her volatile father than giving her any fun, and it never makes her realize that Emerson loves her. The other game in the story wasn't that funny to me because the mishandling of a innocent animal made me sad because they only used it for entertainment without any thought to the animal. I know in those days that people didn't care much for livestock, but maybe one person does. The story was well written and is worth reading because the story is good. I want to thank Shadow Mountain Publishing, Shadow Mountain and NetGalley for the advance copy of this story.