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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review + Giveaway: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: Pushing the Limits #2
Young Adult
Pages: 462
Genre: Contemporary, Romance


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....
*Advanced Reader's Copy provided by Harlequin Teen for an honest review* 

I've been blown completely out of the water again by Katie McGarry's masterful storytelling. Honest to God, I have never found such deep and distraught and scarred characters flourish along the pages of a book. I pitied, I wanted, I craved, and I lived for the rush that the characters were exhibiting throughout Dare You To. Ryan and Beth are both invigorating characters both with flawed personalities and struggling home life. Neither is what they seem; their personas are only on the outside while they hide away the truth on the inside. I have fallen for this book to the point where I snatched it up and didn't stop reading until the the wee hours of the morning. Nonstop. I was hooked.

For those who've read PUSHING THE LIMITS, McGarry's debut novel, we get Beth's story this go-around. The biker chick from the first novel is now getting her shot at love. When her destitute, alcoholic mother decides to take a Louisville slugger to her abusive boyfriend's car and right before Beth can take the same baseball bat at his head, the cops arrive  Her mother can't break her probation, that means jail. Beth takes the fall, unwilling to let her mother do the time for her crimes. But when her mother signs over custody of Beth to her Uncle Scott Risk, star Yankee player, Beth is forced to move away from her mother and is thrown into a world that she thought'd she'd never see again. Curfews, school, and an aunt who wants nothing to do with her, Beth can deal, but when paired against Mr. "Perfect-and-Never-Loses" Ryan Stone, the baseball star with much more hidden under the uniform and the baseball cap, Beth's rude nature and walls start to come crumbling down whether she is ready for it to happen or not.

It is a pretty lengthy novel, but within that length there is a world to explore. The events never stop, the stakes never end, and the drama is colossal. Beth manages to keep herself together when managing in the new environment she'd been thrown into. After being hurt time and again, a past that no child should ever have to endure, Beth is rock solid on the exterior and a caged bird on the interior. She wants to save her mother, get away from everything. Ryan, the baseball star whose father's dreams are forced down upon him, loves dares, and when Beth becomes his main priority of a dare, he is determined not to lose. Because Ryan Stone never loses. When when Beth becomes more than a Dare, Ryan has to find a way not to lose Beth to her past and to herself. Katie McGarry has a knack for bringing out the best in these severely flawed characters by making them shine like diamonds by the end. As a reader, you see them at their worst and pray to see them at their best. McGarry understands this and lets the reader grovel over these characters misfortunes until they're able to understand themselves finally and stand tall with their own two feet.

On Ryan, the only thing I wanted to point out is how willing this burly, testosterone-filled, senior in high school was able to let his feeling to poetically rush out from his lips. It felt off-key with who his character was. In my experience, I have not met many boys who are willing to let the Shakespeare within them to come tumbling out, if they even have a Shakespeare lurking in them. Some are cryptic, others don't really bother, and then there are those who are sweet and romantic. There is a persona that Ryan has going for him, and it felt like that romantic side didn't really flow out so easily from the mouth like it would on paper. It seemed awkward for his character. That was my only note out of the whole novel.

Romance-wise: It's a rough and bumpy start with Beth and Ryan. Everything is surrounded by a dare or trying to rile the other's feathers. There is absolutely no insta-love. There is no attraction for the other until they start to get to know one another. That is what I love about Katie McGarry's romance. The characters may have met each other once, but their attitudes and tendencies aggravate the other until they start to come around. There is no initial spark or love at first sight or soul mate connection. It is how things really work in the real world. A+ and a gold star for McGarry for finally getting romance right where most authors tragically fail. This is why I have fallen in love with your books Ms. McGarry, because you make me fall in love with your characters along with the characters themselves. Thank you.

Final Summation: As I had stated earlier in the review, I read this in one entire sitting. With college out of the way for a few months I finally have the time to myself and just hurl myself into any book that came my way. DARE YOU TO took me by storm. The feelings were all over the place. For Beth. For Ryan. For Scott. For Lacy. For Gwen. For All of their parents. For Trent. Some I wanted to strangle, like Trent. Others I wanted to hug. Some I wanted to knock sense into, like the parents. The suspense and the action and the dedication and the longing and the dysfunction and the love is what made this book incredible. The real and raw emotion that made everyone surge with life. The dialogue, magnificent. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this book. I was blown away. CRASH INTO YOU better come out soon, because I'm urgently ready for more.


First Line: I'm not interested in second place.
Story: XS
Cover: A
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And because I have an ARC thanks to Harlequin Teen and it happens to be DARE YOU TO's book birthday, I'm deciding to give it away to one luck winner. The giveaway is International. Do enjoy :)