Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2) - Katie McGarry 4.5

I was first drawn to this book based on the description. At the time, I didn’t know it was a follow-up to another book. After having read Pushing the Limits, I found that I enjoyed Dare You To much more.

In Pushing the Limits, we meet the character of Beth. She’s the troubled, bitchy friend of Noah who has no problem speaking her mind. You don’t really get to know a whole lot about her, just the bare minimum: Noah & Isaiah are her best friends, she’s poor, and her mother’s boyfriend beats both of them. And honestly, I wasn’t a huge fan of hers.

In Dare You To, so much more of Beth is revealed. Taking the fall so her mother won’t go to jail, Beth is forced to go live with the uncle who abandoned her years ago after promising to come back for her. Her uncle, Scott, it turns out, was able to leave his old life behind and make a life for himself as a professional ball player and now that he has the funds, he wants to help Beth escape her life. Scott takes her to a new town, a new home, and a new school. But Beth can’t get over the feeling that she doesn’t belong in this new life, that she’s abandoning her friends and most importantly, her mother.

Enter Ryan, star baseball player on a fast track to the pros. On a dare, he approaches a stranger in a Taco Bell in order to get her number. She shoots him down and her rejection stays with him because Ryan is the type who never loses. When his baseball idol asks him to show his niece around, imagine his surprise when he discovers its Beth, the mystery girl from Taco Bell.

I adored Ryan. One of my favorite males of the literary world. Yes, on the outside he has the perfect life, but as we all know, there is no such thing as perfect. His father keeps pushing him for more and Ryan finds that he’s not sure if he’s living his dream or his fathers. On top of that, his home life has completely shattered when his brother drops a bomb on the family and then leaves, abandoning Ryan. Feeling completely alone, he tries to reach back out to his brother only to realize he didn’t go that far.

How could I have been so blind? He never left me. My brother – he never left me.

Can I just say how much I love Mark? (And yes, I teared up at that moment). When Ryan gets to know Beth, she not only challenges his ego but also his entire world. Ryan, to me, was the perfect Prince Charming. He wasn’t perfect, but his actions speak louder than words and believe me when I tell you, he had a lot of actions.

While Ryan is coming to terms with who he wants to be vs. who he is right now, Beth is struggling to cut ties with her mother. She realizes that her mother needs help; she’s drinking all the time and continuing to stay in an abusive relationship. Everyone is telling her to leave, she can’t help her mother, etc. But it’s her mother and she feels like it’s her responsibility. She refuses to believe that she can thrive in her new life almost to the point of losing everything. When her relationship with Ryan is questioned, she’s so quick to believe everyone else but him because she doesn’t believe she’s worth it.

Dare You To is not a happy-go-lucky fairytale story about love. It’s dark and gritty, and the people are scarred and extremely fragile. But I loved every moment of it. This one, in my opinion, surpassed the first in so many ways. My one issue had more to do with formatting, because it was an ARC there were no chapter breaks or breaks between the POV’s so in the beginning it was a little confusing during the switches.

Thank you to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for providing me this ARC in return for an honest review.