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A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

ARC Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

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Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2)
       by: Katie McGarry

Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review
Page Count: 462 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 5/5 stars


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....
                                                             -goodreads.com description

Once again, Katie McGarry has completely BLOWN me away with her writing and her story. If you loved Pushing the Limits, then you are going to love Dare You To. Even if you haven't read PTL, Dare You To can be read as a stand-alone.

McGarry has a knack for creating real, raw, emotional characters that are completely relatable. This book will shred your heart, make you cry out in pain for its characters, but then will fill you with such hope for the future. Katie's characters are put through the emotional ringer and yet no matter how battered or broken they are- there is the beautiful sense of hope that change will come. Some readers will read this and be so thankful that they have never had to or never will have to endure the situations Beth did. Other readers will read this and will know exactly what it's like to be in Beth's shoes and will hopefully be inspired that things can change and life doesn't HAVE to be ugly and devastating.

We were first introduced to Beth in Pushing the Limits as one of Noah's best friends. Beth is tough as nails and rough around the edges. She isn't afraid to speak whatever's on her mind and she definitely doesn't let new people into her life. We get a little taste of Beth's home life in PTL and it's not good. Dare You To really gives us an insider's view of just how damaged and broken Beth's home life is. We first see just how destroyed her family is, as she is the one who has to go and bring her drunken mother home from the bar, all while trying to avoid her mother's abusive, crazy boyfriend. However, Beth will do anything to save and protect her mom- no matter how high the cost. After taking the fall for something she didn't do, Beth finds herself whisked away to her uncle's care, thus beginning a new chapter in her life.

Beth's one saving grace is her best friend Isaiah, who has always been there for her. She seeks comfort in him and it is the promise to run away with him and get her mother safe that propels Beth forward in her new surroundings. However, Isaiah longs for something more with his best friend- and as much as Beth loves and cares for him, she just doesn't in the way he wants her to.

Ryan Stone is the last person Beth ever expected to connect with. Besides being a jock, he is also in with the popular crowd. He is cocky, proud, and knows how to push her buttons. My favorite thing about Ryan? His persistence. He won't give up without a fight and he won't run away when things get tough. Ryan has his own set of family problems, that while not as raw as Beth's, still impact him greatly. His perfect family life is nothing but a façade. His family harbors a secret about his older brother, who his father refuses to acknowledge and whose falling out has greatly impacted Ryan. Ryan has high expectations placed on him to be the best baseball player by his father and has his future mapped out for him. Wanting to be the dutiful son, he has never really questioned this plan. He loves to play ball- loves the feeling he gets when he steps out onto the mound to pitch. Baseball makes sense to him. However, Ryan discovers that he also has a talent for writing: a talent his father definitely doesn't see worth investing in. By the end, Ryan will discover that its his life to live and that he will do what makes HIM happy, despite what everyone else wants.

Ryan and Beth's relationship does not come quickly, that's for sure. Beth is such an angry person. She is hurting over the loss of old life, over what went down her mother, and now being forced to live with someone she felt abandoned her when she was younger. She has all of this built in rage and has no filter when it comes to releasing it. She wants to be left alone and especially doesn't want this good-looking jock boy interfering in her life.

Ryan initially meets Beth because of a dare: His friends first dared him to get her phone number and then later turned in to getting her to go on a date with him.  In a moment of anger, Ryan tells her about the dare and in exchange for taking her to Louisville, he wants her to go to a party with him so he can complete it. The last thing he ever planned on was falling for the angry, broken girl.

I felt bad for Beth. For someone who already has been burned in the past and has trust issues, I can see why she would be so reticent to believe that Ryan could ever have real feelings for her. Especially given how everything started with them. Ryan realizes she is someone who can't just be told things- he has to show her how he feels.

"It's our rain Beth." Her head barely shakes to show her confusion while I rub the back of my neck and search for my courage. "I told you I loved you in this rain and when you doubt my words, I want you to look at this bottle."

He sees beyond her cold exterior and slowly but surely starts to break down the walls she's constructed to keep people out of her life. Watching them learn to trust and confide in each other and discover what it's like to love one another is what makes this story truly beautiful. It is definitely a roller coaster ride for them, filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, but like most rides- it flattens out and coasts to its ending point.

Every emotion the characters felt, I felt too- when their hearts were breaking, mine was right along with them; when they experienced those moments of joy and happiness, so did I. Very few books have the ability to do that and those that can- well, you know they are something truly special.

I could honestly keep going on and on about this book and talk about the characters and their development, but I think I'll stop here, since you really need to go ahead and read it for yourself.

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6 comments

  1. Wonderful review. I am staring this one this week. I can't wait.

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    1. Oh, Ellen you're going to just love it!! So many beautiful moments in this book!

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  2. That rain scene, I loved it! It was so unique and made me fall in love with Ryan, who wouldn't love someone so sensitive and deep.
    This was my first Katie McGarry book but won't be the last, I intend to read Pushing the Limits very soon.
    BookishTrish @ Between the Lines

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    1. Oh, yes Trish! You're going to love Pushing the Limits! (Though, I think I love Ryan a bit more than Noah!)

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  3. So excited to read this one, I loved PTL! Can't wait to meet Ryan. Great Review! :)

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    1. You're going to love Ryan. Hands down. :D

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