Dare You To by Katie McGarry ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: family secrets, baseball, new school, romance
Format read: Paperback ARC from Harlequin Teen (Thanks!)
Summary: Ryan and Beth couldn’t be anymore different. While Ryan is maintaining focus on the pro-baseball career he has worked toward forever, Beth is trying to protect her mother from bad habits and abusive boyfriends. One night changes everything for Beth and suddenly she is living with her estranged uncle and going to a new school. Ryan and his friends revitalize an old dare that Ryan can get Beth on a date in a public place, but the competition takes a turn as he gets to know Beth more…
Truth? When I read Pushing the Limits last year, totally transfixed in a train car (I didn’t even care that I was standing for my 45-minute commute), I was not a huge fan of Beth. I don’t even remember caring about her so much because I was all ECHONOAHECHONOAH but Katie McGarry’s great storytelling has brought me back to this cast of characters and their world.
And I am so very glad about that.
Right away, I am going to tell you three things: 1) There are no pet names. 2) Dare You To immediately feels more down-to-earth than PtL because instead of having two characters with extreme situations, we have Beth dealing with the extreme and Ryan wrestling with relatable issues, more familiar to readers. 3) It is better than book one. (And sexier too.)
Beth and Ryan’s “friendship” has some very humble beginnings at Taco Bell, where his friends have forced him to get her number. This skater girl has a tough attitude and does not make it easy for him at all, and he’s totally challenged by her. He’s a baseball player! He lives to play games! Of course, he never thinks he’s going to get a second chance after an unfortunate family situation lands Beth in the home of her estranged uncle and his unfriendly wife. New school, familiar faces from the past, and no more late nights with Noah and Isaiah.
I can’t blame Beth for being as angry and detached as she is. For years she has been taking care of her mom, even though she is always siding with her abusive boyfriend. Her dad never wanted her, and her uncle, the only person she truly trusted to take care of her, left and never came back. Now that Scott is back in her life, she will let him forget that she is no longer the little girl who loved ribbons but a big girl who doesn’t take orders from anyone. Needless to say, they clash a ton.
Meanwhile, Ryan is about to start the most important baseball season of his life, hoping the next step will be the pros. But when he advances in a writing contest and starts to think about college, he wonders if his parents have really had his best interest at heart all of these years. Not only that, but they have been fighting a ton since his brother left home. The perfect picture his parents try to paint for the community is not exactly the truth.
It’s a little too perfect that Beth’s Uncle Scott is an ex-professional player and just happens to live near Ryan and his family. If Ryan agrees to show Beth the ropes at school (or pretends to because god knows she doesn’t want his help) maybe Scott will have an in with his future? Beth and Ryan’s relationship has a ton of tension right from the get-go because she is so impossibly stubborn, and he does not lose (as he reminds us many times in the book). He will show his friends he can get a date with her, and he will get baseball too. Evil plan, check!
It’s safe to say that you realize what happens here. Walls come down a little bit, a game turns into something real, and even more conflict ensues. Ryan is sort of a literary dream guy; he can be incredibly cheesy at times but he is really protective and also so respectful of women. Beth is a little harder to like, just because she won’t let anything good happen to her but despite that I was still rooting for her to find some semblance of happiness (even if it came at a cost).
While Ryan and Beth’s circumstances are like night and day, McGarry does a fantastic job of depicting just how difficult it is when parents have control over us. Their power is so intimidating (even if they seem weak) and sometimes we feel utterly defenseless when it comes to going against their wishes or accepting they are just who they are. Ryan and Beth both have to make decisions to be their own person, and get on their own path — for the betterment of their own lives.
McGarry has written another engaging, addicting volume in this series. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I finished. The chemistry is hot, the issues are real, and there is a whole lot of suspense. I love how Beth could call Ryan out on his crap, and I loved how he was able to show her “the home” she’s never really had before. I dare you not to finish it in one sitting.