5 DARE ME STARS (★★★★★)
*** Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. However, this doesn’t affect my opinion of this book and the words in this review. ***
Dare Me was my first Rebecca Shea book, but I can genuinely say that it won’t be my last. This emotional, poignant and touching novel about trust and hope seriously touched something deep within me. Long after reading it, I still couldn’t let it go. Rebecca really knows how to create a sentimental and profound story with real, in-depth characters.
Saige is broken inside by the tragedy that transpired when she was just thirteen. She might think she is over it, but she is still dealing with the remnants of the hurt and pain from that disaster. Moving back to Chicago after all these years, may be her second chance at life, but it proves to be difficult until she meets Holt. There might just be one problem, because Holt sure is very handsome and he makes her weak in the knees, but he also owns half of the aviation company she works for as an interior designer and a relationship with her boss just feels wrong. Their attraction is too strong for both of them to ignore.
So when one dare leads them fooling around between the sheets, it forges an even deeper connection between Saige and Holt. The humble, sweet, direct, bold and demanding Holt knows what he wants is Saige and he is used to getting his way. After seeing all her broken parts, he is even more determined to be the one to bring her back to life. Now it is up to him to carefully break down all those well-built walls she cemented around her fragile heart, while keeping his devastating secret from her. Will he succeed or will he shatter her past revival?
Dare Me starts with a heartbreaking prologue, which immediately sets off the groundwork for Saige’s backstory. It pulls you into the story and it makes you hurt for the little girl she was and the grown-up woman she is now. It certainly brought some tears to my eyes. The thing she endured when she was just thirteen, it is something you don’t even wish upon your worst enemy.
I loved the interaction between Saige and her colleagues Rowan, Emmery, Kinsley and Isaiah. They are very funny together and they really seem to make her happy. They try to pull her out of her comfort zone. Without their ‘dare’ there wouldn’t even have been a Saige and Holt together. Their connection and the way they act around each other feels intimate and comfortable. That are some serious colleague goals!
Even though from the beginning you meet a lot of characters at the same time, it doesn’t get complicated. Slowly you get to understand every character and side characters are described to a level of feeling as an acquaintance. I think it is perfect. You don’t get to know too much details about them, but enough to like them and for them to really be part of the story.
I liked that you were able to read from both Saige’s and Holt’s perspective. It really gave you the chance to get to know them both. It wasn’t difficult at all to make a connection with them. My connection with Saige was made when I read the prologue. And I think I really connected with Holt while reading the first chapter from his POV. I immediately liked him, but there was also that whole mystery with him having a secret involving Saige. I think I knew what it was from the very first moment, but I didn’t think that was negative. Rebecca hints at what it is, without actually saying it. That makes you wonder and while the story between Saige and Holt is evolving it makes you hope that you are wrong. And when the moment arrives when everything goes to hell…damn, I was dreading that moment. It was heart wrenching, heartbreaking. Seriously, my heart was splintered into a million tiny pieces and I didn’t know if it could ever be fixed. It was really devastating, feeling Saige’s pain.
I loved how Holt could seem controlling, because he actually was, but he also had a very sweet side I liked very much. It was really important for him to get Saige to trust him. He did everything he could, but his secret kind off made it difficult. She sensed he was holding back on something and it, among other things, made her keeping him at arm’s length. He doesn’t let go of her and he, together with her friends, pushes her out of her comfort zone by daring her. The witty banter that developed between Saige and Holt was seriously cute.
I loved Rebecca’s writing. Even though things went very fast between Saige and Holt, making it almost unbelievable, the way Rebecca wrote it made it feel very real. You get raw characters and genuine heartbreaking events and that made Dare Me an emotional read. But it was also very steamy with Holt’s very dirty mouth and the blisteringly hot scenes that happen a lot, but not too much. I seriously had to fawn myself a couple of times. And when Holt was flirting with Saige, I literally got goose bumps. Just a minor critique point I had though was that there was one inconsistency in the storyline. It had something to do with one of the company’s clients.
“It’s so good to be home.”
I can hear him smile. “I knew you’d miss Chicago.” His arms tighten around me, and I feel at peace in his embrace.
“Not Chicago, Holt,” I explain. “You. You are home.”
Dare Me shows you how to let go of your inhibitions and worries. It shows you how to stop being afraid to fall in love and of getting hurt. It tells you about being stuck in the past and moving on from that by using love as a healing power. It is about pain, forgiveness, hope, second chances at life, grief, trust and new beginnings. With this heartbreaking, moving and heartfelt novel Rebecca Shea is now one of my go-to-authors. I highly recommend Dare Me to you all!
Those fucking legs.
They were the first thing I noticed when I met Saige. Her legs go on for miles. I thought I was hiring a midwestern farm girl; however, she is anything but. She’s been a bit of a mystery to me—all of her social media accounts are locked down, and no online photos. She’s almost as good at being as invisible as I am, except I paid someone a lot of money to keep me off the Internet. I hired her sight unseen and only because of her last name. Thankfully, her credentials matched exactly what I was looking for, which made it easier on me and less likely for HR to question my motives.
And then I met her. Her and her long dark hair and those fucking endless legs. She left me speechless. Everything about her was nothing I had expected. Tall and lean. Dark and fair. Kind and ambitious. Mysterious and perfect. Exquisite. She is perfection.
I stand outside Bar 51 and take a deep, cleansing breath. “What the fuck are you doing, Hamilton?” I run my hands through my hair. I cannot go out for drinks with her. I know I shouldn’t, but fuck if I could tell her no.
“Mr. Hamilton?” The sound of my name pulls me from my thoughts, and I turn around to find Saige and our other employees huddled together. “You waiting on someone?” Isaiah Gutierrez asks me. I look past him to see Saige standing arm in arm with Rowan Hansen.
“Uh, no. Was just getting some fresh air before I head home.” I turn my attention back to Isaiah. “You guys headed out?”
“Yeah, it’s that time.” He gives a short laugh. His eyes are bloodshot and glossy.
“Well, I hope you all enjoyed your evening,” I tell Isaiah, but I turn my attention back to Saige as I shrug my suit coat on.
The group of them begins to chat and laugh before they disperse. Saige gives me a small wave as she starts to walk away, her arm still looped through Rowan’s. Part of me wants to rip her away from him, and the other part of me is happy she’s found a friend that she can trust—a very gay friend, thankfully.
Rowan helps her keep her balance as they walk down the street, and I smile as she giggles. I catch her look over her shoulder at me one last time before they turn the corner and disappear, but not before I memorize the look of want in her eyes.
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