Monday, April 1, 2013

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

Firstly, thank you to Harlequin UK for this NetGalley <3 

Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2)

Date Read: January 15 – 20 2013
Release Date: May 28th 2013 in US/June 7th 2013 in UK
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Contemporary
My rating: 

" '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…"


"You and me. We're a mistake. You're a leaver…" 

This isn't a story for the faint hearted. Dare You To deals with gruelling issues such as homosexuality, bullying, substance abuse and physical abuse but ultimately, it's about facing our inner demons, embracing change, being accepted and learning how to love and trust… And McGarry has done this in the most perfect way.

I don't think Dare You To was better or worse than Pushing the Limits; it was just different. And I'm saying this now because although not a direct sequel it's a companion and there is still a comparison to be drawn.

I will however, say that McGarry's writing has really improved since Pushing the Limits; maybe it was the more serious themes that triggered more intense emotions but I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride. I felt the giddiness and laughter of when the ride first starts; the building nervousness and anticipation as it ascends the climb; the high and weightlessness as it approaches the peak; the nausea, fear, dread and plummeting stomach as the cart takes the plunge… and the breathlessness and rush at the end. A roller coaster ride takes probably 5 minutes tops, multiply that feeling by however long it takes someone to read a book and that's Dare You To (note that I LOVE roller coasters though, so if you don't, don't let this analogy deter you!!!)

The protagonists were all perfect and I fell in love with them instantly. We first meet Ryan, the seemingly perfect and insanely hot/sexy jock who accepts the dare to ask out bad girl, Beth. From the first words of the book "I'm not interested in second place", I was immediately sucked in to Ryan's way of thinking. At first I thought he just liked to play girls as part of the challenges his friend's love and everything was a game to him. But I soon realised that he does care about the people he loves and that love was unconditional. I absolutely loved his loyalty to his friends and there was also this innocence about him. Underneath all the fun and dares though, Ryan has his own secrets that eat away at him. To those on the outside, Beth seems to have the track record of a juvenile delinquent with an "I-don't-give-a-fk" attitude. On the inside, she grew up too young and just doesn't have time for the petty gossip and games of teenagers to get to her. She's already been hurt too much. Her problems are immense and the responsibility she placed on herself is more than even an adult should carry. She's built this wall around herself, and refuses to let anybody in. Reading about all the things she had to face made me feel so raw. How does one love when they've never known love?

"There are things in my life that were set in motion before I took my first breath. I don't have a choice." 

I loved all the supporting characters (both good and bad). Each played their own role in the story unfurling and the choices Ryan and Beth had to make. The cameos were my favourite and yes, Isaiah is in this and what a whirlwind he creates!

What I really hate about a book is insta-love. It is my biggest no-no as I've mentioned in previous reviews. What I really love about Katie McGarry is she didn't do it in PTL and she doesn't do it in Dare You To. There is always the initial attraction that is unavoidable. You can't help being attracted to somebody and it's undeniable that Ryan and Beth were attracted to each other. But the animosity, hesitant truce and chase that followed was the most heart-wrenching thing ever. The most important thing in a relationship is trust (and love), so how can a relationship develop if one party doesn't trust the other? Both are quick to bury their secrets, show their distrust and hide from their problems. And it was so understandable for them to do that when everybody judged each other and assumed so easily.

"Nausea spins in my stomach. He's judging me. I know it… Sweat breaks out on my skin. I can imagine the thoughts in his head and his impending judgment." 

Writing in two first person POVs was an excellent choice by McGarry. I could clearly see how each character perceived the other through each other's eyes. But also how they saw the same world differently. Not to mention how much steamier it made the story! Can I just say WOAH at how wonderfully Katie can write a steamy scene?

"Her fingernails whisper against the muscles of my abs and clear thought no longer exists…"

"My heart stutters. I lost my control. I lost my confidence. My hand shakes as I touch his bare chest." 

I just felt so much pure emotion reading that. Their desire, the passion and oh god the burning need. Ahem…

The pace was perfect, every turn of the page a revelation and filled with suspense - sometimes good and sometimes bad. And just when I thought things couldn't get any worse… it was like someone took a blunt knife to my heart.

Bittersweet, heartbreaking, sexy and ridden with secrets, Dare You To was the best roller coaster I've ever been on.

"A warmth unfurls within me, starting in my heart and flowing through my bloodstream. It creates a weird sensation of chains unlocking and breaking free. It's almost as if I'm floating."

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