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Love in a Small Town: Dare You To

Dare You toDare You To by Katie McGarry

I loved Pushing the Limits, the first book in this trilogy, and was eagerly waiting for Dare You To to be published.

This novel focuses on Beth. Due to an altercation with her mum and mum’s boyfriend, she is whisked away by her formerly estranged uncle, a retired pro-baseballer. He is able to provide Beth with a second chance at a successful life but Beth is reluctant to take the opportunity and acts out in a variety of ways.

Ryan Stone is an all-American teenage boy. Good looking and popular, he is likely to go straight to pro-Baseball after graduating high school. However, life is not perfect for Ryan. His father puts ridiculous pressure on him, controlling the progress of his baseball career with guilt and fear. His parents do not talk to each other and his brother has been banished from the family.

Ryan’s friends dare him to take Beth out on a date. This is how the two meet and it is clear they need each other. If only Beth could learn to trust and share her burdens!

It is impossible not to compare this novel with the first book in the series Pushing the Limits which exceeded all my expectations. Dare You To was an enjoyable read but Beth and Ryan did not have the same magnetism as Noah and Echo. In fact, when Noah and Echo made brief appearances in Dare You To the electricity between the two was amazing and they were by far the most captivating characters on the page.

I think Dare You To could potentially appeal to more readers than the heart breaking story of Noah and Echo. The inclusion of baseball could make the novel appeal more to males. This story is also more of a typical romance as not every character is broken. Ryan is your typical fairy tale prince and high school hero. He is accessible and doesn’t hide under a confronting exterior like Noah. The setting is also less urban and more quaint small town (think Jodi Picoult meets John Grisham) which will always hold charm for a lot of readers.

I think Dare You To is an excellent YA novel. It just misses the some of the crossover qualities for adults that Pushing the Limits has in abundance.

Dare You To: 4 Stars.

Thank you to Harlequin UK for a copy of the title to review.

You can find my review of Pushing the Limits here.

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Pushing the Limits

Product DetailsPushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

I took a chance on this novel when it was on special earlier this year. Boy, am I glad I did as the story really blew me away.

The chapters alternate between Echo and Noah, two senior high school students. The opening chapter begins with Echo, her father and pregnant stepmother in the clinical psychologist’s office at school. This heavy scene sets the tone for the rest of the novel. Both Echo and Noah are suffering. Echo has recently returned to school after a long absence and spends the days instinctively hiding her heavily scarred arms. Noah, the delinquent of the story, doesn’t take school seriously. He lives in the basement of his disinterested foster parents’ house and works at a fast food restaurant to keep some respectability in order to maintain visitation with his two younger brothers. As you would imagine, Echo and Noah are drawn together through a mutual understanding of loss and confusion.

This is a sad read but the author avoids turning it into train crash drama. Instead, throughout all the misery, Katie McGarry has created a believable plot and real electricity between Echo and Noah. I think I fell in love with Noah a bit too! I love Echo’s name; she is named for the mountain nymph in Greek mythology who acted as a diversion and then lost her voice. Both of these attributes are seen in Echo’s character and subtle references to the Greek myths are included in Noah’s chapters.

The only weakness in the story is perhaps there was just one misunderstanding between Echo and Noah too many. However, this didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book and I would have immediately started the next book in the series had it been published!

Pushing the Limits: 5 stars

Product DetailsDare You To by Katie McGarry. Due to be published on 7 June 2013. The cover doesn’t really speak to me but I can overlook it as I am so keen to read the second book in this series.