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Dare You To - Katie McGarry
Quick & easy read for fans of contemporary YA romance

In [b:Dare You To|13561164|Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2)|Katie McGarry|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1354200468s/13561164.jpg|19135892], Beth Risk lives with her drug-addicted mother under the constant threat of poverty and violence. When she's sent to a rural town to live with the uncle that left years ago, Beth struggles to find a way to save her mother and get back to the few close friends who have helped her. Though local golden boy and baseball star Ryan Stone's life appears blissfully easy in comparison, there's more simmering beneath the surface of his family's perfect fa├žade. When Beth and Ryan's lives intersect, sparks fly and each learns that the expected path in life might not always be the best one.

While DARE YOU TO was a bit formulaic, this book was a quick and easy read that will appeal to fans of [a:Simone Elkeles|274533|Simone Elkeles|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1350327003p2/274533.jpg], both in its style of alternating male/female points-of-view and its overall light tone, despite the serious topics involved. One notable strength of the novel was Ryan: he was a great male lead who treated Beth with respect. Though there were some moments when he acted a bit chauvinistic, these instances seemed realistic for his character and the small-town climate in which he grew up. While I always knew where Beth and Ryan's relationship was headed, it was nice to see the progression from attraction and lust to something deeper. In addition, I appreciated how the sex scene was handled; the story featured a virgin hero and did a very good job depicting how sex can be an exercise in trust, not just desire. I also enjoyed the secondary characters, especially Ryan's friends Chris, Logan, and Lacey. The interactions between these friends and their classmates depicted small-town rural/suburban life well without mocking it.

This novel didn't work for me on all levels, though. Some very serious issues were presented in the book (e.g., drug abuse, domestic violence, poverty), but they were glossed over and resolved too easily, even if somewhat sadly. Similarly, significant changes in Beth's character seemed to happen too quickly to be believable, and she felt less developed as a character than Ryan. While I liked Ryan's character, he did some things that seemed to contradict his "nice guy" persona, while also sometimes seeming too idealized to be real.

Even with these misgivings, I enjoyed reading DARE YOU TO and think it will have a wide fan base. This installment was a definite improvement over my experience with McGarry's first book ([b:Pushing the Limits|10194514|Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)|Katie McGarry|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1322770025s/10194514.jpg|15093690]), and I look forward to reading the final book in the trilogy ([b:Crash into You|17233800|Crash into You (Pushing the Limits, #3)|Katie McGarry|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1370532247s/17233800.jpg|23751121])) when it comes out.

Note: This review refers to an advance review copy.