“No.” I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again….
“I dare you…”
If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does….
Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him.
But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all….
Author: Katie McGarry
Length: 462 pages
Series: #2 of Pushing The Limits (read my review for Pushing The Limits here)
Beth Risk has been dealt a hard hand when it comes to her home life, but she puts up with it and takes care of her mother as best she can. When she takes the fall for her mum’s latest antics though, everything rapidly spirals out of control, and she ends up living with her uncle Scott – Beth’s idea of hell, but it’s better than her mum ending up in prison. Beth hates her ‘new’ life; her uncle’s bitchy wife, not being able to see her friends, and Ryan Stone, the town’s golden boy. On a dare, Ryan asks Beth on a date, and soon neither can deny their attraction.
I was pleasantly surprised by Dare You To. Like a lot of readers, I saw the word dare and thought “Well, I know exactly where this is going then”. I know with a romance you’re expecting the HEA, but I don’t want to know the ins and outs of the plot as well! In reality though, this didn’t end up as your typical “boy asks out on dare –> falls in love with her –> she finds out about dare –> big drama –> magical solution”.
The plot drew me in big time, and I finished this in about 24 hours, even around revision (though Bout of Books may have played some part in my powering through it).
I’ll admit that I hated Beth at first, because she just came across as downright difficult at times. I understand she’s short-tempered, dealing with a lot etc etc, but at times I did want to give her a good shake! She really grew on me as the book went on though, and I loved getting glimpses into why she acted the way she did. Ryan was also a great character, and I really liked him by the end of the book. Although I’d have liked him with slightly more of a backbone, I liked him despite his flaws, and they made him come across as a really 3-dimensional character. From his determination to get a date with Beth to his romantic gestures and his zombie (you’ll have to read it to get that one I’m afraid), I sort of adored Ryan.
I also loved the romance in this. It is not love at first sight, or first conversation, or even first date. This is slow-building, from irritation to friendship to something more. Beth and Ryan are all about passion – from intense frustration to sizzling chemistry and uncontrollable kissing, this is not a relationship built on bumbling kisses and shy glances across a hallway. It was also nice to read about a girl who’s got history with guys – am I the only one fed up (frankly) with blushing virgins?!
“I like you. I. Like. You. I’ll admit you’re annoying. Sometimes you agitate me to the brink of insanity, but you can throw it back at me like no one else. When you laugh, I want to laugh. When you smile, I want to smile. Hell, I want to be the one to make you smile.”
The one thing that really disappointed me about Dare You To was the portrayal of the adults. Scott was okay, particularly after his admission of guilt and an apology. Allison on the other hand came across terribly – we got one brief glimpse into why but it wasn’t enough (for me at least) to ignore her behaviour throughout the rest of the book. When she did come across as reasonable it felt too sudden – less like character growth and more like tying up loose ends. Ryan’s parents were also beyond frustrating. The only adults who came across even reasonably well were those on the edges: the english teacher and Ryan’s coach. I just got the impression that getting the kids right was priority (and has been done well), but that the adults were almost an afterthought. This was an issue I had in Pushing The Limits as well, so I was a little disappointed it hadn’t improved in Dare You To.
For me, the positives far outweighed the negatives, and I really enjoyed Dare You To, even more than Pushing The Limits. Reading about a bad girl and good guy is a nice twist to the typical good girl, bad boy thing. Although this is a romance, be prepared for the fact that McGarry doesn’t shy away from the difficult issues. This is not just a light and fluffy contemporary – you should expect expect angst, and crappy situations, and emotive writing.
Buy it? This is £4.82 right now, and I’d be more than happy to pay that.
In a nutshell: A great read, one of my favourites so far this year.