Contemporary Romance

Review: The Dare – Elle Kennedy (Briar U #4)

Rating 4 Stars

What’s the book about?
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
The Dare by Elle Kennedy left me with the most bittersweet love for this book. I enjoyed it immensely but damn, I’m so sad that it marks the end of one of my favourite series!

For those that don’t know, Briar U is the spin-off series from Kennedy’s other new adult, college-based sports romance, Off Campus. Both Off Campus and Briar U contain four books each and within each book, I have felt every conceivable feeling. If I could visit any fictional world, I would gladly jump into the pages of these stories!

The Dare focuses on insecure heroine, Taylor, as she endures being the brunt of a dare by her sorority sister meant to embarrass and humiliate her. The dare? To seduce popular jock, Conor Edwards, up to a room. What actually happens is she tells him up front about the dare and he decides to play along. Since he loves playing games, he decides to convince Taylor to keep pretending and so the real game begins…

One of the things I really love about Kennedy’s books is her ability to create really complex characters with fully developed back stories and personalities. Both the hero and the heroine each have their own personal issues and insecurities that get addressed in this book, and each have to learn to open up and trust one another. For Conor, his insecurity was his socio-economic status and it’s impact on his upbringing (including many childhood mistakes he made). For Taylor, it’s her low self-esteem, self-worth and body issues. Both of these characters must undertake the difficult task of addressing and learning to grow past their insecurities, and thankfully they begin to realise they have a wonderful support system backing them.

Another topic I felt Kennedy addressed well was the issue of things prevalent in and around (but not limited to) the college environment including consent (or lack thereof), hazing and bullying. To give a brief overview: during Taylor’s freshman year, she was “required” to perform some actions unlike her in order to gain acceptance into the sorority. These actions were filmed and put into the sorority’s vault with the understanding that they would never see the light of day. At present, Taylor is a Junior and has endured multiple acts of bullying by a few of the sorority sisters. It gets to the point where one particular sorority sister and a member of one of the frats decides to take that footage and upload it online in an act of revenge/spite/jealously/you-name-it.

This is absolutely a breach of consent.

Kennedy is able to use Taylor’s personal growth and development to not only feel better in her own skin, but also gain the inner strength and confidence needed to stand up for herself. Kennedy does this in a realistic way, allowing Taylor some leeway on her road to building self esteem. It was not simply a ‘flip-a-switch’ moment for Taylor where she suddenly became this confident, comfortable person. It was a gradual progression with a great support system and only a few setbacks that ultimately made her so much stronger.

Outside of the heavier topics, the story is also full of many laugh out loud moments and witty dialogue that I thoroughly enjoyed. Conor and Taylor develop and share a wonderful friendship that leads to so much more, and I loved watching these two characters dance around each other until they both admitted to their feelings.

I know a few people had mixed feelings about this one but I genuinely loved The Dare. The only downside I found was the fact that it was the finale to this great series. But that being said, Kennedy has admitted she has more stories in the works coming soon and I can’t wait! If you enjoy sports romance, new adult/college-based romance, and/or romantic comedies, check out this book (and the rest of the series)!

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