Who knew three words held such destructive power? No, not THOSE three words. I’m talking about the evil word trio that’s my own personal kryptonite, that stole my best friend, and took away the only woman I’ve ever loved:
I dare you.
I was six when Darcy Patrick moved next door.
By the time we were eight, we were best friends.
At fifteen, I gave a classmate a black eye for calling her names.
At sixteen, she talked me through asking my crush to prom.
I helped her get over her first heartbreak at nineteen.
Two years later, she returned the favor.
It wasn’t until I was twenty-nine I realized I loved her.
And because I was too stupid to do anything about it,
at thirty, I lost her for good on a dare.
Darcy Patrick is tried of watching her best friend, Elliott Taber, date the wrong kind of woman. When his latest flavor of the month walks out on him, she dares him to let her find his next date. Elliott agrees, but only after Darcy agrees to allow him to do the same.
The dare is on.
The dates take place on the same night. One is an epic fail. The other is just plain epic.
Elliott isn’t prepared for the onslaught of emotions hitting him as Darcy seemingly finds everything she ever wanted with the man he set her up with. He should be happy for her. He should leave her alone.
But he can’t.
So he makes one more dare….
This month’s TBR Challenge prompt was a short read. I tried a few category romances (the less said there the better)… then this book became available at the library, and win! I’d had it on hold because I thought the premise looked cute. In fact the blurb gives more history/detail about Elliott and Darcy’s childhood friendship than the book, almost, but … you get the gist of it. I love friends to lovers stories, and it was nice to read two characters that are so utterly comfortable not only with each other, but themselves as well. I can’t remember if I’ve read a book by Tara Sue Me before … so this one was a great start.
Darcy Patrick is your normal career woman … plus. She’s every day just with that extra romance heroine sheen – she’s beautiful, successful, is close with friends and family, and of course is best friends with an insanely hot, stable, nice guy. I had no problem with this because hey – with romances we want the ideal, and we all need a lighthearted fun read. Anyway, she’s extremely protective of Elliott – Darcy is a real ride or die friend. She’s also attracted to Elliott, but that’s definitely a peripheral part of her relationship with him. I the book Darcy is a bit worn down from constant travel because of her job, and would like to slow down. Even verging on perfect Darcy has her uncertainties and screw ups but is good natured about her flaws and the bumps in life’s road.
Elliott Taber is stupid in love with his best friend Darcy and it’s adorable. He’s had a year to get comfortable with the idea – the book starts basically a year after his epiphany. He’s so normal. He’s just a guy, living a good life … trying to figure out his emotions and how to handle his love for Darcy … and floundering. The agony of not wanting to just be friends with Darcy – his feelings making what they have not enough … but also terrified of messing things up and losing her. Not to say he hasn’t hooked up with other women, because he’s not with Darcy. However, even that has been tapering off, and he’s just stuck. Elliott is a good guy – I even enjoyed his imperfections. (The thing with the tickets!) He’s got a temper, but is willing to see the humor even in terrible situations.
Anyway, being in love but frozen means Elliott pick a woman who is basically a … transaction – they (O2 and Elliott) have mutually satisfactory sex, and “in return” he introduces her to athletes. Darcy sees this and is furious on Elliott’s behalf, and demands he let her set him up with a woman with substance. And now we’re at the premise of the book! Perfect opportunity for Elliott to pick himself – but he doesn’t! I liked that this book was different from your “usual” romance wherein the best friend “pretends” to help the heroine find someone else, but they fall in love and that’s that.
Here… Elliott literally sets Darcy up with the perfect guy (Tate Maddox). I did have a tiny bit of an eyeroll when Darcy kept harping on how she “wasn’t good enough” for Tate … but yeah. Tate is almost unreal. I loved seeing Darcy on her dates. In fact, what I didn’t like was … how flat that relationship was. (I mean, obviously she couldn’t hit it off too much with Tate in the book – because Elliott!) However… for how serious they were … it seemed like Darcy and Tate’s physical relationship didn’t go beyond a very tame kiss. Even though they spent weekends together. I mean it was just weird that they never even addressed it. I also get the whole “well if she has sex with someone else then it’s cheating” – EVEN IF THEY’RE NOT TOGETHER based on who we all know the purported hero and heroine to be … but still. (I’m team make the hero suffer especially if/when he’s an asshole and dumps her – not the case here but … just explaining my stance.) Anyway, I’m not saying Darcy and Tate should’ve been fucking like bunnies – not at all. It was just a little weird how determinedly platonic Tate was and that they never even discussed it, considering how serious their relationship supposedly was… Talk about an elephant in the room. I think that really bothered me because it seems that’s the impetus for Darcy deciding Tate isn’t for her/what makes her start thinking about Elliott. I can also even get being scared and not wanting to bring up something that already makes you feel awkward and rejected but … remember ideal + romance? So talk about shit.
I enjoyed the humor of Elliott’s awful date … and I’m mean so I enjoyed his agony and suffering picturing Darcy and Tate together. I did have some difficulty seeing how everything just happened to come together from nothing to date ending with engagement. I understand they’ve both been half in love with each other for years, but too scared (or clueless) to make a move. I didn’t find that convincing enough for the jump.
As for the “clueless” aspect, It’s hard to explain because it’s not a “stupid” clueless – more like … determinedly never thinking about or considering a romantic relationship, because the friendship is so important, and you just don’t even want to go there.The magic is how we all know that’s exactly the story … but seeing it happen, and being engaged and entertained by the telling. Tara Sue Me does a great job with the awkwardness, showing Darcy and Elliott’s relationship … you really get a feel for how things were for them, and how things are changing.
There was delightfully subtle depth and nuance to this book, and I liked that (aside from that weirdness with Tate …) everything was so normal.There wasn’t manufactured drama, and most everything that occurred felt like it could easily happen to you too. I did like the day Elliott and Darcy spent together, but it seemed like a big jump from “we’re best friends” to … that. The treehouse detail was darling though, and I really hope that was closely based on an actual place. The Date Dare was a really nice read, especially after a few misses prior to picking it up, and I definitely will be interested in reading more titles by Tara Sue Me.