Dare You To by Katie McGarry
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 480 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Ryan is fooling around with his fellow jocks at a Taco Bell, egging each other on to ask out strange girls, when a pretty but tough-looking girl walks in, and his friends dare him to convince her to go out with him. Unlike the girls he usually dates who wear designer clothes, this girl has on a black tank top that shows lots of skin and tight jeans with a rip right below her bottom that widens seductively when she leans over the counter. Ryan doubts he has much of a chance with her, but he hates to lose, and he gives the challenge his all. Unfortunately for him, his initial impression was right.
Beth takes great pleasure in first flirting with, then rejecting, the full-of-himself gorgeous guy in a baseball cap who hits on her, unaware of how soon she'll encounter him again. Not long after the Taco Bell incident, Beth's drug-addict mother gets in trouble with the law and begs Beth to take the fall for her. Beth is bailed out by and given into the custody of her paternal uncle, who is twelve years older than seventeen-year-old Beth and newly married. He's just moved back to the small town where Beth spent her early childhood--before her father went to jail as a drug dealer. Beth never wanted to go back to the scene of awful memories, but her uncle insists she behave herself and stay with him--whether Beth or his wife wants her at his home or not. Beth flatly refuses until her uncle informs her if she doesn't cooperate, he will make sure her mother goes to jail. Beth has no choice but to do as he asks, and it doesn't help her sense of ill usage when one of the first people she runs into at her new school is the handsome jock from Taco Bell, who immediately pushes again to get her to go out with him.
It is so exciting to see a YA author with the incredible talent of Katie McGarry write a traditional, contemporary romance which doesn't involve a love triangle or a tragic ending to the story. McGarry is absolutely fantastic at writing romance. The romantic conflict between these two young people is one of my favorites. They come from two different worlds, and they start off as strangers and antagonists. I love the way Beth and Ryan spar.
Though we get more details of Beth's horrible family background in this story than in the first book in this series, Pushing the Limits, in many ways Beth is toned down from the really messed-up person she seemed in PTL. We find out here that she was more talk than action in PTL and, of course, living with her uncle naturally causes her to live a less out-of-control life than with her neglectful mother. In this book Beth is no longer getting stoned regularly as in the first book, and she is presented as someone who has, actually, had very little sex, rather than living up to the appearance of her being callously promiscuous in PTL.
Ryan is a very appealing romantic hero, smart, protective and sexy. It is particularly satisfying that this book is told, as is PTL, half from the heroine's point of view and half from the hero's. The progression of the romance is emotionally intense and sensually exciting without ever being graphic or crude. The exploration of Beth's relationship with her uncle, her mother, and her friendship with Isaiah, all of them together, creates an extremely well done social- and family-drama plot.
After having read PTL, this book, and the novella Crossing the Line, I am a confirmed fan of Ms. McGarry. I am intensely looking forward to reading Isaiah's story, which we get a preview of at the end of this book.
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 5
Social/Family Drama Plot: 5