June 5, 2013

Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Source: A review copy was provided by the publisher trough NetGalley.

As you guys know, I loved Pushing the Limits because OVER THE TOP ANGST! *ahem* Which is why I was dying to read the sequel. Unlike its predecessor, however, Dare You To is --or at least feels-- less convoluted, probably because it only focuses on one angsty character instead of two. It is still quite dramatic, but way more contained.

I was intrigued by Beth as a secondary character in Pushing the Limits, and I liked her a lot as a heroine in Dare You To. She spends the whole book being angry, something that automatically makes her refreshing and interesting. The previous book heavily hinted at a different outcome for her, meaning that it appeared that her hero would be Isaiah, the other secondary character, yet this book completely challenged all my expectations. And although Isaiah still plays an important role here, he is not the love interest.

But let’s talk about Beth first. As I said, she’s really angry. Her mother is an abusive addict unable to take care of her. When the book opens, Beth’s uncle, a famous former baseball player, is back in her life and takes her to live with him. This doesn’t sit well with Beth because once upon a time he left her and never came back. But now he wants to make up for it by taking care of her and giving her the life she missed. And in order to do so, he takes her to a small town where everything is the opposite to what Beth is used to. Not to mention that Beth worries about her mother and feels like it’s her job to protect and take care of her.

That’s how Beth meets golden boy, Ryan. Things don’t start well between them, but you know how things go, so ultimately they spend some time together and begin to see each other under a different light. He has his own demons and his life isn’t as golden as it appears, but is Beth who must learn how to trust and to let go of her self-destructive path. As I said, the over the top drama was somewhat toned down, or more accurately, it was all directed to one character. Ryan had his own issues to deal with, but Beth is the real star of the book.

In the previous book Beth wasn’t the most likeable character, especially when compared to Echo. But that strong personality is what makes her such an interesting character. I wasn’t kidding when I said that she spent the whole book being angry, and she had all the reasons to be that way. Her relationship with her uncle was also compelling, especially because I kept thinking that he was a Romance hero gone bad. Instead of saving his young niece from a terrible home life, he was selfish and decided to save himself. And now he feels bad and wants to help Beth, but she’s very difficult and he isn’t a martyr, so they were in constant conflict. More than that, in the previous book we had a main character desperate to sacrifice his future to take care of his small brothers, and here we have the complete opposite of that. This was my favorite part of the book, and the main source of the over the top, delicious angst.

The romance, on the other hand, didn’t work that well for me, mostly because I found Ryan to be slightly inconsistent. He becomes nice and good almost magically, and the result is a certain blandness to his character that I can’t quite pinpoint. But the chemistry was there and I liked them as a couple. I also enjoyed that this was a “bad girl falls for the good boy” story. In many ways Dare You To is the opposite of Pushing the Limits.

Now that I’m writing the review I realize that my original reaction has changed. When I finished the book I felt a bit lukewarm, but the story has a lot of merit and in a way is better than the previous installment. The problem is that the reason why I loved Pushing the Limits so much was because of how extreme it was. This book is less into that exaggerated, almost manipulative emotion, and although it remains dramatic, the magic was not quite there. I still had a great time with it, but it wasn’t the same.

That been said, I read the book in one night. Dare You To confirms that Katie McGarry’s books are additive if you’re into that particular brand of angst.  And if you do, then I highly recommend this series.

Grade: 3.5
Sensuality: McDreamy
Purchase: Amazon

Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth.
"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...
Dare You To (Harlequin Teen) by Katie McGarry
Harlequin Teen. May 28, 2013


  1. Read this with one eye open because I'm reading this soon. I just read Pushing the Limits and I really enjoyed it. Looking forward to this one

  2. You pinpoint with more accuracy than what I would've been able to say. Dare You To is a much quieter novel than PTL that much is for certain. For me, while I did enjoy Ryan, I did not like him nearly as much as Noah. Maybe because it was there was so much OTT angst in PTL, or maybe because I just loathe baseball. *shrug* I think McGarry has a knack for writing troubled, interesting characters.. and I have to say that while I wasn't wowed on the idea of Isaiah as a hero for Beth, I am really looking forward to his story. The emotion didn't resonate for me as strongly in Dare you To nearly as much as it did in PTL, and I can't quite put my finger on why that is.

    1. Thanks, Ronnie!

      I thought Ryan had some inconsistencies in terms of characterization. At first he was supposed to be the confident, obnoxious jock, but it turned out that he wasn't. And I didn't see the different shades of his character, he just went from one side to the other with nothing in between.

  3. I liked this one even better than you did Brie.

    I liked prickly Beth in PTL and I liked the way Ryan challenged her (in a way that Isaiah could not have). Ryan had his own issues and though they were less dramatic and life threatening than Beth's they were still realistic and I thought the author did a great job of balancing things so that Ryan didn't come across as "poor little rich boy" (to me at least) but he was a real person with real problems that meant something to him. I loved his sense of honour and how willing he was to stand up for Beth - something she hadn't had all that much of in her life. I liked also how Beth reconnected with other friends in the town and that the book was bigger than the romance with Ryan and Beth alone.

    I was disappointed by the adults in the book - I would have liked more from them - I think there's an interesting story with Scott and his wife but it was only hinted at.

    As much as I totally bought that Ryan was the one Beth should be with, I did feel sad for Isaiah and I'm really looking forward to him getting his own HEA.

    1. True, I didn't see him as the poor little rich boy, and I did feel like his issues and the way he dealt with them were authentic. I guess I was expecting the same degree of exaggerated emotions. Not that there's anything wrong with a more subtle story.

  4. I liked that this book only focused on one angsty character this go-around-that worked much better for me as I don't tend to like melodrama.

    1. There was still some melodrama, but it was nowhere as bad as in PtL. I think people who didn't like PtL might like this one. Although I can't tell for sure.


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