The Dating Dare
by Jayci Lee
Release Date: August 3, 2021
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Book #2 in the A Sweet Mess series
Number of Pages: 320
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Ages 16 and up
CW: talk of emotional and mental abuse
Read 7/28/21 to 7/31/21
No serious relationships. This is the one rule Tara Park made for herself and it has been working swimmingly, thank you very much. The occasional fling is fine, especially since she’s busy with Weldon Brewery. But when Seth Kim, temptation personified and her best friend’s new brother-in-law walks into her life, Tara might be willing to bend her golden rule…but only for four dates—the four dates she agreed to after a few good rounds of beer and a game of truth or dare. It’ll be fun. No biggie.
Seth Kim can’t believe Tara agreed to his dating dare. He’s leaving for a new job in Paris in a month and a no-strings attached fling seemed like a nice little distraction for both… But their secret dates, while sweet and sexy, always hit roadblocks straight out of a romantic comedy. Thankfully, their non-dates and chance meetings are smoother, frequent, and heated. However, the more Seth sees of Tara, the less willing he is to let her go—and what was supposed to be a little fun game turns into something that neither of them are ready for.
But sometimes, the best things in life are the ones we never see coming.
I knew when I read the first book in this series, A Sweet Mess, that I wanted to read about Tara finding her HEA. At that time, I didn’t know this was going to be a series, so I was pleasantly surprised to get an ARC of this story.
Tara didn’t disappoint me. She is quirky and strong and kind. Turns out, she’s also been through a lot in her early love life. This has closed her off from finding love herself, but she celebrates her best friend finding love. In fact, it makes her a bit melancholy to realize that the kind of love Aubrey and Landon have just isn’t in the cards for her. Enter Seth, Landon’s younger brother.
The flirting banter Seth and Tara have is sexy and fun. Add in Tara’s way of expressing herself (more on that in a minute) and the dialogue in this story is a joy to read. Of course, it can’t all be dialogue. The longing looks and quiet tension between the witty conversation are what seal the wonderful chemistry this couple has. There are many times a steamy scene comes to a screeching halt for one reason or another, and I’m just begging these two to give into the temptation already! They are on fire for one another.
With both characters believing their little dating game has a finite end date, they end up holding back when they should be going all in. Even once they start feeling more comfortable expressing forms of affection to each other, they still don’t open up completely.
This story was full of laughter and heat, but for some reason it didn’t hold my attention the way the first book in the series did. To me, it felt as if the flow of the story was a bit off and that threw my reading rhythm off. But I’d still recommend this story to romance readers, and it can definitely be read as a standalone without a problem.
Now, as promised, more on Tara’s fun way of expressing joy, shock, and dismay. Apparently, as wonderful and open-minded as they are, Tara’s parents did not look kindly on her kids taking the Lord’s name in vain. So Tara found her own spin to take on such things to the point that they just flow out of her mouth now. Some of my favorites…
For llama’s sake.
Oh, my Groot!
For the love of elves.
She kept me snickering, for sure.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**