Saturday, April 27, 2013

Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Release date: May 28, 2013 Harlequin Teen


“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...

4.5 out of 5 flames

When I finished Dare You To, I realized why I like the Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry.  I love how she writes about family. In both these books, she delivers with an intimate view of family dynamics, especially when the  “family” unit isn’t necessarily traditional or completely functional.

Dare You To  is the story of Beth Risk, friend and family to Noah and Isaiah from the first book in the series, Pushing the Limits.  Beth meets Ryan Stone for the first time when he’s trying to get her phone number on a dare from his friends, and something about Beth captures his attention at that first meeting. There’s chemistry between Ryan and Beth from the get-go.

When Beth’s mom lets her daughter take the fall during a fight with her boyfriend Trent, Beth ends up living in Ryan’s hometown.  The rest is history. You know the story.

The most interesting aspect of Dare You To was the portrayal of the different  family relationships.  Beth’s mother is all kinds of messed up. When Beth is sent to live with her Uncle Scott and his “not exactly on board with the whole idea” wife, she’s given a very different kind of life. What will she choose--a more stable life with her new family or will she choose her mother and the friends she left behind?

Ryan Stone has family problems too. Not the same as Beth’s problems, but every bit as difficult. He’s facing some choices too.  Groomed to be an athlete, he also excels as a creative writer, giving him more options than just professional sports and causing conflict with his father.. And then Beth comes into his life, forcing some decisions regarding his future and his own family.

The secondary characters supported the story well, especially Mark, Ryan’s brother and Ryan’s friends from his team.  I was glad to hear that Isaiah would be getting a book, because my heart cracked a little for him in this story. I’d like to see him get his own HEA.

Writing a bad-girl / good-guy romance isn’t easy but Ryan and Beth are quite believable. I loved how they both found their way over the course of the book and that made their story every bit as compelling as Noah and Echo’s story in Pushing the Limits. As a matter of fact, before I started reading I thought Ryan couldn’t possibly be as interesting as Noah, and it turned out I liked both Ryan and Beth just as much, if not just a tiny bit more.

Dare You To is a poignant follow-up to Pushing the Limits.  The second half of the book was really well paced and very satisfying. The heart of the story is Beth and Ryan, as they fall in love and learn to trust themselves and each other in the process, and by the end of the story, you know they do. It definitely left me with a good feeling.

I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.

Contains: violence, drug use, and sexual content.

Thank you NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review. 

4.5 out of 5 flames 

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