Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Disclaimer: I think it’s best to lay my cards on the table before I begin my review. Prior to Dare to Resist, I had not read Carly Phillips’s series of books that lead into this newest series. Why did I sign up for an ARC of it when I am fairly new to Carly Phillips? Easy. The blurb grabbed me instantly. Three reasons: secret baby, sports, and office romance. All of these are romance triggers for me. They oftentimes create some of the sweatiest, hottest, dreamiest romances. And Dare to Resist did not disappoint.
First of all, kudos to Carly Phillips for considering readers such as myself. If I had read the other Dare series, I would obviously have a greater context for the characters of this newest story. However, Phillips considers new readers, and she provides background, enough to help the reader understand the current story. She offers a nice balance of explanation along with the plot points of her current story. This suggests Phillips’s ability to engage any reader into her storytelling, seasoned or new. I appreciated that balance, as I’ve read other authors new to me who have made assumptions about my knowledge, especially with a book that they espoused as a “standalone.” When authors are careful to consider a greater audience in their storytelling, they earn instant points. Even if you are a seasoned Carly Phillips reader, the details act as quick reminders, not weighing the story down with inessential details.
Now, what is there to love about this new book? Obviously, the characters are a highlight, namely the hero and heroine: Austin and Quinnlyn “Quinn.” At first glance, Austin as the arrogant playboy former NFL football player/player agent who clearly loves the ladies and his job is a great set-up for the type of heroine who will challenge him and bring him to his knees. Thankfully, Phillips crafts Quinn who is beautiful, intelligent, and insightful. She is the perfect match to Austin’s alpha-male persona, and Phillips makes their chemistry palpable. If I had to criticize anything about their constructions, it would be Austin’s objectification of Quinn from the outset. While he doesn’t verbally articulate his interest in her, his mental insight lends itself to heroic douchery. For me, it was a bit of a struggle at first to “like” Austin and even his brothers, as they are more apt to see women as only their outer expression. These guys are “bros” to their core. As the story progresses and Austin begins to acknowledge Quinn’s apparent intelligence, skill, and work ethic, then you begin to like him more. However, it took me a bit to get on board the “Austin Prescott” train. One of my biggest annoyances was his willingness to “lose himself” in someone else to help him “get past” his attraction to Quinn. <insert eyeroll here> Thankfully, Phillips knows her readers well, and she saves Austin from himself.
Additionally, while I respected Quinn’s struggle with considering a future of children, her initial lack of reflection on this topic was frustrating. It read like a reach for Phillips to make this Quinn’s struggle. Instead, the tensions between Austin and Quinn could have rested strictly in the challenges of an office romance. I think they consummated their chemistry too quickly for this story, and Phillips could have built it long into Quinn’s help with his secret baby. Again, these are minor in comparison to the veritable benefits of this story.
The secret baby storyline is the gold of Dare to Resist. Whenever the most playboyish of heroes finds themselves surprised by an unassuming baby, the story sparks, and this is definitely the case with this book. It’s in that storyline where Phillips humanizes Austin. She turns him from a bit of a neanderthal of a hero to a gold-medal father. His transformation and fall into love with Quinn is the second best part of this book. It’s where all the good feelings exist, and Phillips deftly crafts a happily-ever-after for Quinn and Austin that both entertains and challenges her readers. In Austin’s acceptance of his child, Carly Phillips’s message of the power of family is realized. There are many more moments like that in Dare to Resist, but ultimately Austin’s heroic evolution reminds us that family is the foundation of love. When Quinn’s love finally enters his life, it can easily grow on that base.
As I finished Dare to Resist, I knew that I wanted to read more from Carly Phillips. Thankfully, there is more to come with Dare Nation, and this reader can’t wait.
In love and romance,