May 28, 2013

Dare You To - Katie McGarry

Dare You To - Katie McGarry
Dare You To by Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #2
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: May 28, 2013 (You can go get it today!)
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks Harlequin!) || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

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. (from Goodreads)

I am sorely tempted to leave you all with this very important statement as my review: I absolutely LOVE Ryan Stone and call dibs on him as a book boyfriend. But that wouldn’t be fair now, would it? I would miss my chance to tell you guys why I loved him, and Beth, and Dare You To.

After liking Pushing the Limits a lot last year, I was equal parts excited and nervous about McGarry’s follow-up. Fortunately, her writing captured me from the very first page, and I devoured Dare You To like it was water and I was dying of thirst in the desert. McGarry has a skill for writing contemporary novels that feature strong romances, all while thoroughly exploring the complex issues her characters are dealing with. With her second novel, she’s certainly won me over and earned a spot on my auto-buy contemporary YA authors list.

The characters in Dare You To made this book a compelling read. McGarry uses her skills to create characters that are complex and real. They might be nothing like me, and I might never have had their experiences, but thanks to the writing, I felt an instant connection with Beth and Ryan. She wrote them with incredibly strong personalities, tailoring their individual stories to fit them perfectly. But she also wrote them in such a way that when they came together, it would make perfect sense on all counts.

Beth Risk has interested me since we first met her in Pushing the Limits, even though she’s only a minor character. I was really excited when I found out that this book was going to be her story, and I personally think it’s a good one! The primary thing we learn about Beth is the difficulty of her home life, mostly because of her mother. It broke my heart repeatedly to see how much responsibility Beth carried on her shoulders, and I felt as conflicted as Beth about what ought to be done. When she’s given the opportunity for a fresh start, she was naturally wary. But gradually, she reveals a vulnerability and innocence that tugged at my heartstrings.

Ryan Stone, however, was a delightful surprise! I loved him! I wasn’t sure what I could expect of him, particularly since he’s basically described as the golden boy. Yes, he was one of the popular kids, a jock aiming for a place on a professional baseball team. But McGarry turns that image on its head when she reveals his surprising vulnerability, and his talent and desire to write. Ryan’s struggle revolves around his family, and the conflicts that they are trying to pretend don’t exist, which I could relate to on one level. All these things, good and bad, and what he’s like when he starts falling for Beth really won me over, and had me falling for him too.

I enjoyed each of their stories as individuals, as it was interesting to witness them deal with their own demons. But the romance Beth and Ryan share in Dare You To is compelling in a way I didn’t expect. I fell in love with their love story, even though it’s peppered with moments that could come off as cliché and cheesy. Their feelings for each other just felt so right, and I was definitely rooting for them to find a way to be together.

McGarry deftly weaves all three stories – Beth’s, Ryan’s and their story together – into this novel in a masterful way. I never felt like there was too much focus on one story; each one was covered equally and in a way that I wouldn’t lose track of what was happening. The writing was really good, and the pages of this novel flew by quickly in my eagerness to see how it would wrap up.

Dare You To is a strong sophomore novel, with two characters that completely won me over and a romance that made me swoon. I am certainly sold on Katie McGarry’s ability to create characters I can fall in love with, and her way of writing them into stories that are addictive, swoony and downright good. I totally dare you to (yup, I had to do it!) take the time to read this novel - it’ll be worth it.


  1. No fair, you can't hog Ryan all to yourself! I really liked him a lot-boy brought the swoon :)

  2. Ohhhhh a book boy tip - I'm definitely going to have to read this one soon!

  3. okay, you've convinced me, i'm totally gonna give it a try

  4. You know, I don't remember why I wasn't more intrigued by McGarry's debut novel when it came out. Maybe I was in a burned-out stage regarding similar books? But your strong recommendation of this sophomore novel--a sophomore novel, getting such a glowing review? how's that for impressive?!--makes me think I should reconsider. Thanks! :)

  5. I'm literally halfway through this book right now, and I just love it so much!! I can't wait to see how everything ends. Katie McGarry has me hooked again!

  6. Great review. I really like your point about a lot of the scenes seeming like they should be cliche or cheesy, but then just not being either one. And I agree that's because Katie McGarry handles her stories and characters so well.

  7. Yay, I'm so glad you liked Dare You To. I loved it, but Pushing the Limits is still my favorite. And I'll let you have Ryan if I can have Noah. I think that's fair, right? :)

  8. Great read, great story and wonderful characters. :) I will be looking into other books written by Katie :)

    Maycee Greene (Austin Search Engine Optimization)


Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)