Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mexican Hat Dance on My Heart

A good book makes you love the supporting characters as much as the main characters, so when Katie McGarry announced Dare to You, the story of Beth from Pushing the Limits, I was so excited I yelled loud enough to wake my husband and scare my dogs. And lucky for me, McGarry didn't disappoint.

Beth has always taken care of her mother. She buys food, pays the bills, and even collects her when the local bar owner wants her out. Beth has never known what it meant to be a carefree child, but at least she has a family with Noah and Isaiah. When a confrontation with Trent, her mother's abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend, leaves Beth in jail, her aunt calls the one person who can help them: Beth's uncle, the famous baseball player, Scott Risk. Scott is willing to help her, in fact, he insists on it, but he has some conditions. In fact, he tells Beth that if she doesn't live with him, go to school, stay out of trouble, and abandon everything about her former life, he will tell the police exactly what Beth's mom has hidden in her apartment. 

Beth can't imagine life in the sticks with prom queens and baseball games, but she will do it to protect her mother. What she didn't expect was to come face to face with the jerk who asked her out last week. Ryan has some demons of his own, but they are well-hidden inside the school's star baseball player. Never one to lose a bet, he continues to try his luck with Beth now that she is permanently in Groveton.  His friends bet him he couldn't land a date with her, and lord knows she has made it perfectly clear she would rather stab him that go on a date with him, but Ryan doesn't give up on anything. Especially a girl who seems like a nightmare on the outside, but turns into a whole different person when you get to know her. 

I don't think my description of this book can really do it justice. It sounds like a typical romance, but there is so much more to this book and this series. In fact, the romance is hidden within a dark, sad tale about a girl who had never had a stable life. Sure, Isaiah and Noah loved her unconditionally, but she never had real parents. In fact, Beth had to parent her own mother. And because of everything she dealt with growing up, Beth was a hard, angry young woman who was the antithesis of the suburbs her uncle transplanted her to. And who can blame her? Anyone growing up around abusive boyfriends and drug addicts would have to develop a wall around themselves just to survive. But I loved that there was so much more to Beth. She wanted to love and be loved, but she never fully believed she deserved it. Even with Isaiah's undeniable love for her, she never felt she was worthy. 

And her relationship with Isaiah was hard for me to accept. In Pushing the Limits, I wanted her to finally realize he was in love with her, so seeing this book wasn't about the two of them devastated me. But once I saw the story play out, I could see how Isaiah would have been wrong for Beth and she for him. She needed something different, someone new, someone whose romance didn't threaten one of the few friendships Beth had. And Isaiah could never be that for her. And trust me, it was heartbreaking. Watching her come to that realization and Isaiah, wonderful, tattooed, devoted Isaiah, come to that conclusion had to be one of the hardest things for me to read as a person who just loves these characters. 

And that is the thing about McGarry. She can make you fall in love with even the toughest and hardest characters. I mean, Beth?! She was the last character you would find yourself siding with in Pushing the Limits, but you always knew there was more to her than just the black hair and nose ring. And McGarry gave you more. And she gave it to you in a way that is absolutely heart-wrenching. I felt such an emotional attachment to these characters that even now, I am looking at this book thinking, "How can it be over?!" These are phenomenal books and I don't think anyone out there could read them and not feel a connection to the characters, even if they could never empathize with them. McGarry has a gift, and I am going to be waiting, very, very impatiently waiting, for Isaiah's story, because he has some unfinished business. I love this series, and I Dare You to read it and not love it too!

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