Review: What Happens in the Ballroom (Designing Debutantes #2) by Sabrina Jeffries


Print Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Zebra (March 28, 2023)

From A young military widow, Eliza Pierce is enjoying both freedom and financial success as part of Elegant Occasions. When her late husband’s best friend, Nathaniel Stanton, the Earl of Foxstead, hires Elegant Occasions to help another young widow of an officer become part of high society, Eliza wonders why. Is the woman a relative? Or is she the earl’s mistress and her adorable toddler his child? If so, why does he take Eliza in his arms every chance he gets . . .

Foxstead’s family situation makes it difficult for him to marry, so his visceral attraction to his best friend’s widow is an unwelcome complication. Burdened by family secrets and those of his commanding officer, he’s determined to do his duty even when it means being around Eliza every day. But how can he resist when the fetching Eliza keeps tempting him to break his own rules? For if he dares to expose the truth, will she ever forgive him? Or will she banish him from her life forever . 

My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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.

                             What Happens in the Ballroom is available on

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