Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2) by Katie McGarry
Publication Date: May 28th 2013 by Harlequin Teen
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Find: Goodreads | Amazon
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….
Dare You To is the second book in the Pushing the Limits series. For those of you familiar with Katie McGarry’s books you know that her characters don’t have it easy. Often facing tough situations, these guys are forced to fight with everything they have to find their happily ever after. In Pushing the Limits, Beth was Noah’s bad tempered and hostile friend. Dare You To is her book. It is messy and tense with plenty of highs and lows.
Beth’s a tough girl to connect with. With her rough upbringing, Beth’s reluctant to trust anyone. Her protective mechanisms make her cold and angry. More often than not her anger is misplaced and very hurtful to people, even the ones she does care about. She’s a frustrating character and you have to try and be patient with her as she comes to terms with the fact that not everyone is out to hurt her and that while some of their intentions may not come off as well as they should, the people in her life really do want the best for her and want her to find happiness. Her growth is a very slow development but when you come to understand the harsh circumstances of her life you do tend to understand why it takes so long to find the cracks beneath her tough exterior. Her mother is a drug addict and has a violent boyfriend so Beth took up the mantel to be her protector, even when everyone around her knows that she doesn’t deserve it. A child is not her parents keeper and part of Beth’s story is seeing her realise that the only thing that comes from protecting her mother is her own downfall. It’s admirable the lengths Beth will go to protect her mother but to see her accept that this is something she can’t fix was the biggest relief. Letting go of her mother is the first step in escaping this harsh life and in doing so it allows Beth to come to appreciate the people in her life that care about her, like her Uncle Scott, Noah, Isaiah, Ryan and even Echo, someone that been a continuous target to her hateful comments. Beth is a very hard character to connect to but that frustration towards her stems from that need to have her embrace the reality of her situation and accept the help that’s being offered to her instead of running away from it.
Ryan seems like an odd match for Beth but in actuality he’s just the right guy to break down those walls and challenge her. On the surface, Ryan seems to have it all. He’s the start baseball player in town, with potential to go pro after high school, and his parents are two of the most prominent figures in town. Sounds perfect, right? Well behind that facade is a broken family playing make belief. When his brother leaves following an ultimatum from their father, all the pressure and expectations fall onto Ryan. His parents take control of the course of his life instead of allowing him the freedom to make his own choice. It’s suffocating in that household and adding to it is Ryan’s own hurt at being abandoned by his brother.
Beth and Ryan have a push and pull dynamic. Beth was only ever meant to be a dare to Ryan but with every moment spent together, Ryan comes to realise that there’s more to Beth than this tough exterior. With the problems both Beth and Ryan face at home, the romance takes it’s time to develop but as they come to spend more time together you see just how well Beth and Ryan compliment one another. Beth pushes Ryan to face his family and take charge of his own choices, and Ryan pushes Beth to see the support she has in front of her if she’d allow them in. Ryan’s determination to be with Beth and belief that what they have is worth fighting for will melt your heart.
Like most of Katie McGarry’s books, Dare You To is an addictive read. Beth’s voice takes its time to connect with but it’s all part of her journey. Patience is key when dealing with a character like Beth. These character go through the highest of highs but also experience the lowest of lows. Ryan and Beth’s journey is one you will find yourself investing in, hoping that their determination and love will be enough to see them reach the happy ending they deserve.