November 12, 2013

Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2)
Author: Katie McGarry
Release Date: May 28th, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Page Count: 456
Source: ARC from Alexa
First Reaction: You'll cry, angst, love and cry some more over this one. Ryan and Beth are just brilliant.
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...

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

There's Beth, who's got major personal problems (as were hinted to in Pushing the Limits) and then there's Ryan, who's new to the series, and has issues all of his own. So that's family problems, plus baseball, plus trust issues and all of it comes together to equal one fantastic, angsty romance I can't help but love.

Let's break this down:

I really enjoyed the first book of this series (companionship?), Pushing the Limits. The main thing that turned me off, though, was all of the turns of endearments. There was just a lot of "baby" and "siren" and "nymph". However, Dare You To, didn't have any of that. Or, if it did, it was toned down a lot. So if you had reservations because of that, don't worry and read this book. I think this book lacks that because Ryan is very different and much less possessive than Noah is. But I won't get into this because I could probably write a whole paper on this and I really think you just want to me to gush over this book instead.

Now, I didn't think I was going to love this book as much as I did. Despite people telling me the terms of endearment were much less in this book and I was bound to love it if that was my main problem with Pushing the Limits, I was still hesitant because I kind of hated Beth. I mean, she's a huge pain in the butt in Pushing the Limits. She messes with Isaiah, is mean to Echo and makes tons of trouble for Noah. I kind of just wanted to hate her and have that be that. But then this book starts and things are rocky between Beth and Noah, Echo and Isaiah. Then Beth gets moved out of the city and over to her Uncle's house and you learn more of her backstory and I kind of forget everything that made me hate Beth. (Except when she keeps messing with Isaiah. I understand why they'd be a bad match. Really, I do. But, girlfriend, cut a guy a break.)

So, basically, what I'm saying is, don't not read this book because Beth made you mad in the last one. Or because of the terms of endearment that may or may not have annoyed you, also in that last one.

But it's not just Beth who broke my heart in this story. It's Ryan too. His life is just as complicated and messy, with parents who don't get it. And yeah, at least he has parents, where as Beth just has a drug-addicted mother and an Uncle who abandoned her a long time ago (yes, I know he's trying to make up for that, but you still kind of want to punch him for at least 75% of this book). But Ryan needs something to deal with the secrets and the cold, cookie cutter behavior, the same way Beth needs something to deal with her mom and her uncle.

Which is what I liked best about this story, really. Both of the main characters need something and that something happens to be each other. If my feelings are any indication, I think a lot of us wanted Beth and Isaiah to get together. But then I read somewhere that Katie McGarry said that they realistically just weren't the right fit for each other. They'd just keep dragging the other down. And the more I think about it, the more I accept it. I believe that like can be attracted to like, but I think that if Beth stayed with Isaiah, it would have been settling and both of them would have gotten stuck/would have never been truly happy.

And, honestly, that last paragraph should really be indication enough to read this book, since I'm talking about Beth and Isaiah and Ryan as if they're real people with real drama whom I know and worry about. I also really wanted to hurt Gwen for a lot of this book and really loved all of Ryan's friends a lot. So, more pretending-fictional-people-are-real syndrome going on here.

Another thing I really loved about this book is the parent drama. I think Katie McGarry really does a fantastic job including families. It's not just that the kids have issues with their parents and work it out on their own while the parents don't really realize anything until behavioral changes are made. No. There's yelling and compromising and all of that good, real life family stuff in these book. It's painful to read and you really do want to smack some heads against walls, but it's real and it's amazing.

I could honestly go on and on about the million things I loved about this book, or you could just read/reread it and understand exactly what I'm talking about, y'know?

The long and short of it?

Plot: Nothing short of amazing.
World Building: I don't know very much about baseball or legal family stuff, but I buy all of this, so, excellent.
Character Development: Beth and Ryan and all of their dares and learning to trust and UGH I love it so much.
Prose: Tough, honest, beautiful and so expressive.
Would I Recommend This Book?: This book is an instant recommendation for contemporary romance lovers. Or people who like issue books. Or lots of drama. Now, if you like reading companion books in order (since Noah and Echo do pop up and everything with Isaiah is in play), you should read Pushing the Limits first, but even if you don't like lots of pet names, it's worth it. Dare You Too is too brilliant to miss.

Did you love this one as much as I did? Maybe you loved Pushing the Limits more. Either way, I want to hear about your Katie McGarry feels, so tell all in the comments below!