Dancing Queen

Dancing QueenIn Dancing Queen, Liv—who just finished her junior year of high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan—spends her summer working as an intern with Music Mix in London, where she’ll be wrangling celebrities and helping plan concerts, all in the name of hopefully getting a future job in the entertainment industry. She’s living in a flat with two roommates and is more or less on her own. She has many adventures and eventually finds love over the course of the summer.

This is the second book I’ve read from the Romantic Comedies line by Simon Pulse. I think this one is more interesting and better written, but it definitely feels like it’s aimed at an older audience—one that’s probably already reading adult romances.

One odd quirk—the book chapters are all named after songs from the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s. I doubt anyone under 35 will get many of the references, if they even catch on.

SPOILER ALERT: Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid

Drugs & Alcohol

Lots of people drink—it’s part of the typical social life of the interns and celebrities. There are numerous scenes in clubs, and minor characters often drink to excess. In general, Liv avoids this—except for one very notable exception. She goes to the hotel room of a guy she barely knows and drinks champagne to the point where she falls asleep on the sofa. When she wakes up, she has to piece together what happened. In a different kind of novel, this would have turned out very differently. Regardless, while she isn’t exactly proud of her actions, it’s not called out as the potentially horrendous mistake it is, either.

Many of the characters smoke. Some of them a lot. It’s never viewed positively (one guy has tan teeth because of it, others are looked down on for dumping work on Liv so they can take smoke breaks), but it’s not portrayed as terribly negative, either. This also makes the novel feel dated—smoking is no longer allowed in many of the places that people smoke in this book.


Rebecca, one of Liv’s roommates, is an annoying blonde rich Texan who is totally self-centered and awful—however, that’s kind of turned on its head by the end. Rebecca isn’t so bad once you realize she’s putting on a show to hide her own self-doubt. Thankfully, this realization doesn’t make Liv and Rebecca best friends, but it does let them work together and appreciate each other’s strengths.

Liv deals with celebrity guests and manages the fans. Most of them fit all of the awful stereotypes you’d expect—self-centered, irrationally demanding celebrities and rabid, occasionally stalkerish fans. Her totally terrifying and awful boss, on the other hand, isn’t so bad once you get to know him.

The male heart-throb who briefly dates Liv turns out to be just as bad as you’d imagine—he’s only using her to rehabilitate his image after a public break-up. She’s not a person at all in his eyes. Several of the female celebrities seem very catty and have awful reputations, but once Liv gets to know them it turns out they aren’t so bad. There are several places where an all out cat fight was a possibility, but the story backs away from it—it’s more girl power than jealousy by the end.


Parents don’t actually show up much, but the girls’ relationships with their parents are discussed, especially Liv’s single dad and her friend Anna’s overbearing mother. In both cases, the relationships are somewhat deep. Liv realizes that her father’s relative hands-off approach is his way of telling her he trusts her and he wants her to live life her way. Anna finally figures out how to truly talk to her mother about their divergent ideas of what Anna ought to do with her life—she realizes her mother does actually want what’s best for her, even if she’s showing it by being overly controlling.

Liv’s mom, who died a while before the book starts, was from London and had worked with Music Mix. Part of book is Liv’s quest to understand a little bit of her mom’s life from when she was young.

Teen Idols

Celebrities play a significant role in the plot, since that’s what Music Mix is all about. Liv quickly learns that celebrities are just people, and not always nice people. There’s evidence that the celebrity life isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be—despite the perks, it can also be lonely, and it’s not fun to have your reputation in the hands of the tabloids.


There are some descriptions of somewhat heavy kissing—it’s more about action (i.e., where he put his hands) than about emotions, but they don’t go past PG. There’s a desire to be perceived as sexy—Liv pulls on her shirt to lower her neckline when she wants to fit in, she gets compliments in a clingy silk tank top, etc. For a high school reader, this is probably fine. For a middle school reader? Might be a bit mature. They don’t need more stuff to reinforce the idea that being sexy is the only way to be beautiful.


It’s not a bad book—I like Liv. Definitely for older readers due to themes—I’d suggest it for maybe 14 or 15 year olds and up. However, it does bring up some topics I could talk about with my daughter. I might let her read it, only because I’ve read it and can discuss it with her. It’s not a book I’d want her to read on her own.

Daughter update:

We talked about it and she decided she had too many other books that she wanted to read to bother with this one. I’m happy with that decision—I don’t think this book is really appropriate for her yet, even if we did end up talking about it.


Dancing Queen by Erin Downing
Published in 2006 by Simon Pulse
Part of the Romantic Comedies line
Borrowed from BooksFree


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