— BLURB —
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.
— MY REVIEW —
First off — I was not expecting to score an early copy of The Dare. I had a plan of rereading the first three books in Briar U before the release of this one so all the characters were fresh in my mind. But now, after having read this… my new game plan is to go back to the previous books because I am nowhere near ready to say goodbye to this amazing world that Elle has created.
If you’re unaware Briar U is a spin-off series to Elle’s original NA sports romance series; Off-Campus. If you read my reviews for those books (I’ll put the links at the bottom of this review)… I was 100% a Dean Di Laurentis fan! Solid. Like, nothing was going to sway me away from him. As far as I was concerned Dean was… King. Bae. Swoon worthy. Book BF Goals! Whatevs.
But in struts (yep…struts) Conor Fucking Edwards and practically squeezes himself into the throne right alongside Dean.
I love Elle’s heroes in both her sports romance series’ because whilst they’re popular and seem to have the image of well-put together people, they’re nowhere near perfection that the rest of the student body seem to think. They have their own insecurities just like anybody else. They’re not your stereotypical arrogant jocks that think they’re better than everyone else. They’re also not all about the sports either. They’re witty, intelligent (they actually take their education seriously), have manners, standards, and are truly loyal individuals.
Conor is all those things and more. You couldn’t ask for a better friend and boyfriend!
“He’d rather make people around him feel good about themselves, even when it provides no personal gain for himself.”
You’ll see a lot of insecurities in this book. Just like the previous books in the series, you get to see these characters’ backstories prior to Briar University and hockey. You’ll see what hang ups they have about themselves and their family dynamics in comparison to their relationships with their friends.
Conor has a shady past that haunts him. But despite lingering issues, he manages to keep a very easy-going, level headed attitude for the most part — which I have to say in my opinion plays a essential role in some situations of this book.
Conor and Taylor are a perfect match. They balance each other out and whenever one of them is down, the other knows just how to pick them back up. The way they support one another when they don’t have the strength or courage to do it for themselves is one of the uplifting aspects of this book. Put aside all the fun and games, and blossoming romance between these two and you’ll see the strong friendship they’ve formed (even if it started from an unusual situation).
You’ll discover with this series (along with the Off-Campus series) is that all these leading characters have different, yet quite realistic situations that they’re dealing with that’s relatable no matter your age.
Taylor struggles with a lot of personal issues that she deals with all throughout the book. It’s insecurities that a lot of people can connect with on one level or another. Body image, self-doubt, low self-esteem, and a lack of confidence in one’s self worth are serious matters, and they are all present in Taylor’s personal story. Not to mention the fact that Taylor is a young woman who’s still navigating through life at school. But she’s also caring, thoughtful, humble and just so darn adorable.
Elle is not afraid of tackling difficult subject matters in her books, and The Dare is a great example of the awareness she puts out there, by having her characters really open up about these topics — and in turn as a reader (who may or may not know much about certain issues) learns more and becomes mindful of it.
But I should warn, besides the sensitive matters that these characters face, there’s also some sexual harassment and breach of consent within that may trigger some readers. Nothing graphic, but it is present.
Elle did an amazing job of discussing these matters with care, leaving not only her characters with power and choices to do something about it (which I know is not always the case in reality), but in this particular instance it left me feeling satisfied with how things concluded.
It’s well-paced with great expansion to an already ongoing world-building, and told from dual POVs. There’s a lovely balance of light and shade within their story. It’s never too heavy that it leaves one feeling drained, but it’s not a fluffy love story either. It’s current, full of substance with deep content and obvious character growth from both Taylor and Conor as individuals and as a couple.
One thing that stood out to me was the positive support system both these leads had. Other than the swoony romance, I’ve always loved the friendships that Elle has introduced in her books. This one did not disappoint. Their friends play significant roles in their lives.
With Taylor, she has a kickass bestie who not only is a firecracker but would easily throw down for Taylor in a heartbeat. She’s also not afraid to give Taylor a wake-up call whenever needed.
With Conor, it’s his teammates/ roommates who’ve become his close friends and have his back in any situation (despite their unrelenting but hilarious banter). They were the perfectly timed comic relief.
Theirs was a rollercoaster of a relationship with a lot of push and pull, a lot of second-guessing, and doubt that will have you going through a range of emotions from frustrated and anxious to hopeful and optimistic.
“Worst case, I get a good friend out of the deal. Best case, I screw her brains out. Win-win either way.”
😂😂 Oh Conor… *shakes head*
And whilst hockey is undeniably present in this book, it was however hockey-light in comparison to the other books in the series. There’s a good chunk of it in the first half but as Taylor and Conor’s relationship develops further, hockey eventually takes a back seat.
The friendships here is by far the strongest highlight in my opinion with the secondary characters — but mostly between Taylor and Conor themselves. Some of my fave parts were them just getting to know one another, or casually chatting about random things. It was effortless, and lighthearted, and organic — and no doubt the introduction scene where their stories kicks off is a part of the book I’ve must’ve read numerous times by now because it’s THE funniest thing I have read in a long time. I’m talking snort-laughing and tears-in-my-eyes kinda funny!
This book will leave you with a smile on your face and feeling just a little bit lighter. If this was the final book (and I’m talking about Elle never going back into this fictional world again), then I say it ended beautifully.
“Listen up, everybody! It’s time to play Dare or Dare.”
If you’re game, then I highly recommend you get onto this one immediately! The message and life lessons are insightful and uplifting. And you will love Conor Edwards. He’s a beautiful human being (albeit fictional, but meh.. still beautiful nevertheless).
Thank you so much to Elle Kennedy for the opportunity to read and review an advanced copy! 💗
— The Dare by Elle Kennedy —
Briar U (Book Four)
Release Date: June 16, 2020
Add to your TBR: Goodreads
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If you’re interested in any of my other reviews for Elle’s books, check out my reviews below for her Off-Campus series! 📚
Start the Briar U series now!
The Chase is currently FREE on Amazon
If you’re an avid romance reader, and you enjoy reading sports romances, then you gotta check out both of Elle Kennedy’s NA college series’. You won’t be disappointed. I guarantee it. 😊 Happy reading, guys! Catch you in my next one! Xo