Summary (from the author):
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 Rating: 4/5 Stars
I was beyond excited when Elle Kennedy announced back in April that there would be a fourth installment in the Briar U series. This spin-off series to the Off-Campus series follow a new set of hockey players and college students at the fictional Ivy League school, Briar University – but don’t worry, there’s plenty of cameos from the Off-Campus series! The Dare follows college junior & aspiring teacher, Taylor, who’s had enough of the mean girls in her sorority and California surfer & heartthrob of the Briar U hockey team, Conor. When Taylor and Conor begin to fake date after a dare, the two realize that could potentially be a couple even without being dared to.
The Dare was a fun take on the fake dating trope. I really liked how Conor and Taylor are friends before moving on to anything really romance-related. Most of the relationships in the Briar U world start with romance before relationship statuses are set, so it was a refreshing take. I’ll admit that sometimes the boys of Off-Campus & Briar U blend together, but I feel like Conor wasn’t as much as a bad boy & player as some of the other guys. I also really liked Taylor as a protagonist, having enjoyed her relationships with her mom and her best friend, Sasha. It was also fun reading about her field experience as a student teacher.
I loved the cameos from characters from the other books in this series and Off-Campus. Without being too spoilery, I especially loved how Taylor and Breanna (the female protagonist from The Risk) are connected in this book. The hockey scenes and Conor’s scenes with his teammates were also great, although I do wish there was more hockey in this series and the playoffs in this book had taken a different route.
However, The Dare was not my favorite Briar U installment.
Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the college stereotypical-ness of the Briar U series & The Dare – parties, Greek life, and attractive college athletes included – but The Dare really embraces a lot of those stereotypes, for better or worse… I read some of The Dare on a beach day with one of my best friends, who was wondering what I was reading. When I handed her the book so she could read the synopsis, she actually laughed out loud about the stereotypical description of Greek life at Briar U as someone who was active in Greek life at her alma mater. While some of the partying and other college life things are pretty accurate, the coldness and downright mean attitudes against Taylor from her sorority sisters was just so unnecessary. I feel like Taylor could have still had some sort of conflict with one of her sisters without receiving so much hate for her body type and weight. I don’t want to be too spoliery, but a big conflict towards the end of the book involves something that comes out from when Taylor rushed into the sorority that was a little uncomfortable to read. I think that while yes, the Briar U series takes on a lot of stereotypes and fortunately or unfortunately, some of them are actually true to college culture, there are cases where Greek life is not wild or as slimy as the books make partying seem to be.
I also don’t understand why the Briar U series – at least book #3 The Play and The Dare– have these plot lines or moments that feel so unrealistic to the story. In The Dare’s case, I really didn’t understand why the whole plot line with Conor and Kai had to even exist. I think there could’ve been another way for Conor to contend with his past and his relationship with his stepfather without having to, you know, owe an ex-best friend thousands of dollars or else be blackmailed.
Overall, while it wasn’t my favorite Elle Kennedy book, The Dare was a really entertaining read. I really hope Elle Kennedy comes out with another new adult romance ASAP. While I think it would be fun for us readers to experience a new setting, I’ll be 110% honest and say that I would happily read another 10 books set in the Off-Campus/Briar U world. However, I will admit that the Briar U series is missing some of that Off-Campus magic. Again, I would endlessly read books set in this world, but Briar U is perhaps missing some of the development Off-Campus has and plays too much with stereotypes and high-stakes situations.
Have you read The Dare? Have you read any books in the Off-Campus or Briar U series? Share in the comments!