Series: Pushing the Limits #2
Published by Harlequin Teen, Mira Ink on June 7th 2013 (First Pubbed May 28th 2013)
Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth."
"No." I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again....
"I dare you..."
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....
There is nothing more of a blessing as a reader than to come across a book that just…”speaks” to you. That you connect with whole heartedly both with the story and the characters. I adored PUSHING THE LIMITS so very much that I was unsure how I would take to DARE YOU TO and whether it would be as affecting. I had no reason to worry, Beth and Ryan got out their deck chairs, put up the beach umbrella and put down roots in my heart. You know I love a book when I say nonsensical things like that but you get me you know you do!!
I confess I took little heed of Beth in PTL because I was so caught up in Echo’s and Noah’s story and because at the back of my mind I knew I had a whole book waiting for me to get to know her. However I knew I adored her from the minute she told Echo “Fuck them” in PTL when she stood uncertainly in the lunch room as she hesitantly and bravely took a step towards recovery and I realised then that despite her bluster and big talk that she cared deeply for Echo no matter how much she wanted to deny it.
In DARE YOU TO Beth’s uncle Scott finally steps up and takes Beth away from her dysfunctional life caring for her addict mother and shielding her from her abusive boyfriend. Beth goes from sleeping on a mattress, huddled up to best friend Isaiah for warmth to living in a mansion with an aunt who looks at her as a bug to be squashed, catching the attention of handsome and kind Ryan Stone and attending school and having to actually participate or face parental wrath. It’s safe to say Beth isn’t in Kansas anymore. Will she allow herself to embrace the life and love she truly deserves or will she spiral and choose the dark road she knows so well?
It was jarring for me how much of myself I recognised in Beth, I connected immediately with her fears to truly let people in and feel deserving of their love. Her self criticism was familiar and I felt deeply for her as she struggled with finally being treated by figures of authority as someone worthy with potential. Her use of smart arse comments and her prickly nature as a defence mechanism to push people away is understandable, she’s carried weight on her shoulders that someone so young should never have to burden. Let down by the ones she should turn to in times of crisis means she’s unable to recognise true concern when her uncle challenges her to be something more. There’s an incident with her uncle that broke my heart for Beth as it was revealed just how deeply affected by her childhood she is that she has to deal with the underlying fear that comes with the threat of people’s anger. She has never experienced it without direct consequences and it angered me that such scenarios don’t exist simply in books. She was such a richly developed character I can’t even put into words how much I adored her.
Ryan on the other hand took a while for me to warm up to. It’s strange how at the beginning he came across as such a non-entity for me. I appreciated how sweet and kind he was, a true gentleman in a time when they are scarce but for so long he seemed too “good” and unrealistic for me. Of course I’ve known by now to put my trust in the brilliance of Katie McGarry’s talent to portray characters with all their flaws and uncertainties peeking out from under the surface and it was truly when she delved into Ryan’s relationship with his brother and by extension his father that I really began to fall for him.
A victim of brutal and despicable prejudice Ryan’s brother and confidant has been banished from the family hearth and in doing so has cracked Ryan’s previously unwavering belief that in being “good” and doing what you’re told, meeting raised expectations and “fitting in” all will be well. Suddenly Ryan has to wonder if he makes a mistake will he be disposable too and if so is falling for the girl who makes all the mistakes and knows nothing other than being disposable yet still stands firm and true for those she cares about really so terrifying?
Beth and Ryan’s relationship developed slowly and sweetly and I loved how each step they took peeled away another layer and deepened their connection. On the surface both seem to be all about appearances, it is the only way they can survive. Both have had to sacrifice their own happiness and dreams for other people. It’s a learning experience for both to realise that with each other no such sacrifice is necessary but to trust in that is overwhelming and the urge to flee when presented with that sense of worth must be stemmed in order to grasp that happiness for themselves rather than hand it over as they’ve been taught.
I want to touch on Beth’s relationship with Isaiah and Noah briefly. Unlike many I never ‘shipped Beth and Isaiah. I adore them both and love their friendship and the unwavering support and love they give each other unconditionally but as a romantic couple I always felt that they would be victims of the dysfunction they have been embedded in for so long, that they believe they deserve and would never break free from. They don’t challenge each other but make allowances and I always felt that was self destructive. Beth’s realisation that her relationship with Isaiah can never be more than a friendship if it is to ever flourish was heartbreaking and their exchanges were wrought with emotion. Equally the care and love that Noah has for Beth so much so that he would rather that she sacrifice her friendships and life with those who love her dearly in order for her to have the opportunities she deserves. The selflessness we saw in Pushing the Limits from Noah in relation to his brothers again comes into play here and it was a reminder of just what beautiful characters and bonds McGarry has created with her words.
DARE YOU TO was just beautiful, a book filled with characters you can’t help but feel deeply for, a story filled with raw emotion and love. Flawed, realistic and above all stunning, if there was ever a book to make me burst into spontaneous happy sobs with the last lines like this one did it would of course have Katie McGarry’s name on it.