#Book review #The Dating Dare (A Sweet Mess Book 2) by Jayci Lee #20 Books of Summer 21

Book Description:

Jayci Lee, author of A Sweet Mess, returns with The Dating Dare—her next witty, chemistry-filled romantic comedy.

Tara Park doesn’t do serious relationships. Neither does she hop into bed with virtual strangers. Especially when that particular stranger is her best friend’s new brother-in-law. It isn’t an easy decision, though. Seth Kim is temptation personified. His unreasonably handsome looks and charming personality makes him easy on the eyes and good for her ego.

When a friendly game of Truth or Dare leads to an uncomplicated four-date arrangement with Seth, Tara can’t say she minds. But their dates, while sweet and sexy, have a tendency to hit roadblocks. Thankfully, their non-dates and chance meetings get frequent and heated.

Seth is leaving for a new job in Paris in a month and a no-strings attached fling seemed like a nice little distraction for both… But soon Seth realizes that Tara Park doesn’t come in a “nice & little” package–she’s funny and bold, sweet and sexy, and everything he ever wanted and never expected to find. Neither of them are ready for something serious and both have past relationship baggage they’ve been ignoring, but with a shot at forever on the line will they follow their hearts and take a chance on happily-ever-after?

Publisher: St.Martin’s Griffin

Publication Date: August 3rd, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance

320 pages

My thoughts:

Last year I read Jayci Lee’s A Sweet Mess, a charming story of a match made in heaven- a baker and a food critic. The food descriptions were so mouth-wateringly good that I immediately became Jayce Lee’s fan and couldn’t wait for her new book, The Dating Dare. And it didn’t disappoint!

The plot is fairly straightforward- Aubrey’s best friend Tara whom we met in the previous book loves her job in her family brewery, loves her home town Weldon and her supportive family. Tara is a independent, funny, loyal…but she isn’t exactly in a hurry to settle down. Aubrey’s brand-new brother-in-law, Landon’s younger brother Seth is moving to Paris to start his dream job of a fashion photographer in a month. So, when Seth comes up with a dare to go on four dates with the condition of Not falling in love, the arrangement suits both to a T. Whatever happens in Weldon, stays in Weldon, right? well, Tara doesn’t like to keep her personal life and her ‘real life’ separate, so they try to keep the dates (and non-dates) secret.

Yes, you can probably guess (in broad terms) what is going to happen, but here the magic is in the execution, and I have to say I liked this book even more that the first one. First of all, the attraction between these two is really strong- the scene with the desserts in the park- hot, hot, hot… In case you were wondering, Jayci Lee is a master of fade-to-black at the right moment, so if you choose to listen to The Dating Dare instead of reading, you don’t need to worry about desperately trying to skip some tracks.
Secondly, there’s so much romance! I’m dying to tell you about the dates, and all the cute, sappy things these two get to do. Thirdly, there’s a lot of emphasis on treating each other with respect and consideration in everything- dreams, feelings, choices (big and small).

Tara is one of those rare case where I liked the protagonist, but didn’t exactly relate to her. She has her reasons for avoiding any serious commitments and, although we don’t get many details of her past, I admire her for recognising and dealingwith it. Seth also has his own emotional baggage he needs leave behind before he can truly fall in love. The ending is sweet, melodramatic and satisfying (we all knew how it was going to end!).

Once again, I loved the food descriptions. There were fewer of them- understandably, with Tara and Seth’s jobs being different from Aubrey and Landon’s- but they were absolutely delicious.

Sweet and fun, The Dating Dare was exactly what I needed on a hot summer day like this!

Thank you to NetGalley and St.Martin’s Griffin for the review copy provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

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