Book Review: Katie McGarry’s Dare You To

Posted May 20, 2013 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Katie McGarry’s Dare You To

Dare You To

on May 28, 2013 and has 480 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Second in the Pushing the Limits New Adult romance series with some gritty events and characters. It’s based in Groveton, Kentucky. I received this ARC from the publisher.

In 2014, Dare You To won the DABWAHA Romance Tournament for Best Young Adult Romance, and in 2013, it won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award (RT Award) for Young Adult Contemporary.

My Take

Oh. My. God. Good. It’s a story about two young adults who are more mature than their parents that will stay with me for a very long time, and I cannot emphasize enough how excellent this was.

McGarry pulled deep for this, delving into parental pressures of all kinds — primarily those that parents place on their children with a minor look at those placed on parents by their children. Manipulating their children to satisfy their own selfish needs.

Even better, McGarry took her time to develop this story and brought in a nice range of characters to help emphasize the issues, making the most incredibly complete story. It may be a story aimed at Young Adults, but it’s a story I recommend to parents as well. If you recognize yourself in this — STOP.

We learn quickly enough that this story is about Ryan and Beth — the superstar jock and the trailer trash girl — and their strengths and fears. Two people I would be proud to call friends, people from whom I could learn. The supporting characters are nicely rounded out with their own issues as people in themselves, who also support what is happening between Ryan and Beth as a couple and as individuals.

There are sections with Ryan’s dad that drive me mad. How dare he! How dare he extort his own son!!? How dare he think Ryan owes him!!!!

I love that Ryan has the maturity to look below the surface and the patience to wait.

A bit of home truth that applies to anyone:
“Why would any girl ask a guy to give up something he loves?”

How can you not cry over: “It’s our rain, Beth”?

The only quibbles I can think of is that I wish McGarry had put a bit more emphasis on Beth’s biggest regret about her past, the last battle with Trent seemed gratuitous, and I do wish that McGarry had made the distinctions between chapters more obvious as to whose perspective we were viewing (she switches between Ryan’s and Beth’s thoughts throughout).

There may be clichés in this, but I haven’t noticed them. Instead, McGarry has played this with a tremendous realism. Beth’s fears ring true; it doesn’t feel contrived simply to create drama or tension. Just as Ryan’s anger feels real. It may not make a lot of sense, but he’s still reeling from events, from the huge disruption in his life. And he’s still just a teenager struggling with emotions and coming to terms with the stupidity of adults.

Oh, wow. I love the advice Scott gives Ryan making baseball his career. Then there’s the scene at the end between Ryan and Beth when he asks her why. Oh…so heartrending and honest.

The drama and tension in this are perfect. And enough to make you cry for all the loss. For the lessons that Beth and Ryan, and yes, even Mark, have had to learn. For the pain that forces these lessons on so many people.

I recommend this book very highly, and hope I can get hold of the first in this series, Pushing the Limits, 1.

The Story

It’s a dare that brings Beth to Ryan’s attention, but it’s something under all that camouflage that keeps him interested.

The Characters

Elisabeth Risk is the most loyal person, even when it’s unwarranted. When she loves, she loves hard. Isaiah, a.k.a., Tattoo Guy, is Beth’s best friend, her refuge from her life, her rock. Noah is their friend as well, and he’s with Echo (see Pushing the Limits).

Beth’s mother is a drug addict, weak and selfish with a need to get entangled with the wrong kind of guy. Shirley is her mom’s enabling sister. Trent is the jerk of a boyfriend currently in mom’s life. He’s also managed to slip under the police radar in spite of his activities and the beatings he doles out to one and all. Scott Risk is her dad’s brother. A successful, and retired, professional ball player who managed to escape his origins. Allison is his very angry wife.

Ryan Stone is in love with baseball and winning. A good thing as his father has ambitions that way. Too bad if Ryan also has a passion for writing. Mark was a loved brother, before he came out with his news. A truth his parents, Miriam and Andrew, with their passion to be the model family, can’t handle. Mom loves her charity-luncheon social whirl while Dad owns his own company and is active in local politics.

Chris and the easily bored and very intelligent Logan with his need for that edge are both on the baseball team and best friends with Ryan. Lacy Harper is Chris’ girlfriend, and they’re very much in love — “Chris reveres her as his own personal religion.” Too many years ago, she was also Beth’s friend.

Gwen Knoll? Gardner? is Ryan’s old girlfriend. She’s moved on to greener pastures, but can’t resist twisting the knife. She does come by her nastiness honestly — gets it from her mom. Mrs. Rowe is the enthusiastic English teacher. Rob Davis is a scout for the Cincinnati Reds. Pete Carson is a scout with the University of Louisville while his wife, Vickie, is the dean of the English department. It makes for a very lively recruiting session, LOL… Denny is the bartender and owner of The Last Stop, her mother’s favorite watering hole.

The Cover and Title

The cover is the only time it feels as if the publisher is purposely jerking at your heartstrings and is a metaphor for the problems that Beth and Ryan have to overcome.

The title involves several levels, beginning with Ryan’s overt need to excel, particularly when his friends Dare You To do. Yet it also involves Ryan’s need for his brother, and Beth’s torn loyalties between her friends, her mother, and Ryan.