ARC Review + Excerpt | The Dare by Elle Kennedy

The Dare by Elle Kennedy
Series: Briar U
Genre: New Adult, Romance
Publication Date: June 16th, 2020
ARC from the Author

College was supposed to be my chance to get over my ugly-duckling complex and spread my wings. Instead, I wound up in a sorority full of mean girls. I already have a hard time fitting in, so when my Kappa Chi sisters issue the challenge, I can’t say no.

The dare: seduce the hottest new hockey player in the junior class.

Conor Edwards is a regular at Greek Row parties…and in Greek Row sorority beds. He’s the one you fall for before you learn that guys like him don’t give girls like me a second glance. Except Mr. Popular throws me for a loop—rather than laughing in my face, he does me a solid by letting me take him upstairs to pretend we’re getting busy.

Even crazier, now he wants to keep pretending. Turns out Conor loves games, and he thinks it’s fun to pull the wool over my frenemies’ eyes.

But resisting his easy charm and surfer-boy hotness is darn near impossible. Though I’m realizing there’s much more to Conor’s story than his fan club can see.

And the longer this silly ruse goes on, the greater the danger of it all blowing up in my face.

| Book Review |

To say I was tickled pink when Elle Kennedy decided to grace us with another Briar U book after the last one was supposed to be the last one is an understatement. When I found out it was Conor’s book? Well…this is a line from my review for The Play: I’m telling you right now, if Conor doesn’t get his book, I will be throwing a tantrum of epic proportions! (Not really…probably.) So I think it’s safe to say I was excited about The Dare. And with good reason. There were so many good parts to this book, and Conor was just one of them. This book starts off when some of Taylor’s mean girl sorority sisters throw down and issue a dare that she’s not ‘allowed’ to turn down. And this event kicks off a whirlwind affair with one of Briar’s most promiscuous hockey players. I liked Taylor and Conor together immediately. Their relationship was so fun, and it felt so organic. They had immediate chemistry, and it was easy to see what they saw in each other. I will say, though, that Taylor’s insecurities kept getting on my nerves. And as a big girl myself, I don’t say this lightly. Which brings me to my next point. I think the cover of this book is absolutely stunning, but I can’t help but feel like an opportunity was missed here. How great would it have been to actually see a woman with Taylor’s body type on the cover of a New Adult novel? I feel like it would have been such a treat, and I’m a little sad that we didn’t get to see it. I mean, we’re writing about big girls, but rarely are we showing them.

There really is no other way to put it, picking up a new Elle Kennedy book just makes me so giddy, and it was true of this one, too. For the first half of the book, I was all in, and I loved all the flirting and friendships, and yes, broken record when it comes to this series, but I love how the heroines from previous installments just pull whoever is new into the fold and makes them part of their group. These female friendships are the best, and even though I did like Taylor’s super supportive friend, Sasha, it was Summer, Brenna, and Demi that I was excited to see on the page. And I also loved the banter between the men and how they’re always there for each other. It’s so great to see that, and I love how they, too, just pull the women into the fold and become protective of them. (Even though these women don’t need it.)

But I will say that this book got a little long, and even in the last book, I was kind of over the fact that the last hurdle in the story is outside issues coming between the characters instead of something happening within the relationship. It doesn’t feel authentic to me, and the fact that Taylor was able to spew such vitriol at Conor, even if it was to drive him away and she didn’t mean it, made me like her less. To be honest, I wasn’t all that happy with the way Conor treated Taylor with his past rearing its ugly head, but at least he didn’t throw all of her insecurities in her face. I do like character growth and was glad to see it, but I also like relationship growth, and I couldn’t help but wonder if this was something either of them was ready for. Also, I’m over the token evil conservatives. At this point, it feels like a trope that is so overdone and leaves little room for nuance.

I want to end this review on a positive note, so I will say that I like the final message of the book. (Highlight for mild spoiler.) I think it’s an important message to send to young women that when you are exploited the way Taylor was, there should be no shame attached on your end. It’s a very difficult message to get across, and the more we see it, the better. I love that Taylor has so many people in her corner and urging her to go to the police even though she’s scared. There is such strength in that, and I think it’s such a critical message to get out there.

While I thought The Dare was a fun story, I don’t think it was the strongest of the series. But let’s be real, if you’re an Elle Kennedy fan, you’re not going to let this book pass you by.

| Rating |

| Excerpt |

Thank you,” she breathes the moment we’re alone.

“No problem. Mind if I make myself comfortable?”

“Um, yeah. I mean, no. I don’t mind. Sit if you want. Or—wow, okay, you’re lying down.”

I grin at her visible nervousness. It’s cute. While I stretch out my six-foot-two frame amid the stuffed animals and decorative pillows on the bed, she remains the startled rabbit plastered against the door and breathing heavily.

“Gotta be honest,” I tell her, entwining my hands behind my head, “I’ve never seen a girl so unhappy to be locked in a bedroom with me.”

This has the desired effect of loosening her shoulders and even eliciting a shy smile. “I have no doubt.”

“I’m Conor, by the way.”

She rolls her eyes. “Yeah, I know.”

“What’s the eyeroll for?” I ask, playing wounded.

“No, sorry, I didn’t mean anything by it. Just, I know who you are. You’re, like, campus famous.”

The more I watch her, hands braced at her sides against the door, one knee bent, dirty-blonde hair a little messy and draped over one shoulder, I can’t help picturing myself holding her arms above her head while I explore her body with my mouth. She’s got very kissable skin. 

“Taylor Marsh,” she blurts out, and I realize I don’t know how long we were silent until then.

I scoot to the far side of the bed and put a pillow beside me as a divider. “Come on. If we’re going to be in here awhile, let’s at least make friends.”

Taylor laughs out a breath and with it she releases a bit more tension. She’s got a nice smile. Bright, warm. It takes a bit more coaxing, however, to get her on the bed.

“This isn’t like a move,” she tells me, lining up stuffed animal guards to patrol the pillow wall between us. “I’m not some sort of weirdo who tricks men into getting in bed with her and then mauls them.”

“Sure.” I nod with mock seriousness. “But a little mauling would be okay.”

Series Reading Order

12 thoughts on “ARC Review + Excerpt | The Dare by Elle Kennedy

Add yours

  1. I wouldn’t be able to tell that the woman on the cover was plus size. I agree that the cover would have been better if it matched up to the character profile. I’m glad you had fun with this book, despite it not being the strongest in the series. Wonderful Review Angie:)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve enjoyed Elle Kennedy’s books, but I haven’t got to this series yet. Glad to hear you enjoyed it overall even though you had some issues. I know I get a little tired of reading about a character’s insecurities if it goes on an on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. I want to see some character growth, and not just because a man suddenly finds you interesting!

      This is, overall, a fun series. You have some great reads to look forward to!


  3. I’m glad to hear you’re still enjoying the series even if this one wasn’t your favorite. I agree about the missed opportunity on the cover. The one they’re using is pretty and fits with the rest of the ones in the series, but I would have preferred to see one that better represented the protagonist.

    Liked by 1 person

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