Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 1/2
I had mentioned in my review for Dare to Resist that I had missed out on Carly Phillips’s previous Dare stories. Even after reading Dare to Resist, the first book of her newest series, Dare Nation, I didn’t feel as though I needed to read the other books for context as Phillips does such a fantastic job of connecting you to the characters from those books. I also mentioned in that review that Dare to Resist felt busy, and I struggled to like Austin Prescott for most of the story. Trust me, I love an alpha-hole, but he read as vain and self-involved until Quinn humanizes him (thank you, Lord). At the end of Dare to Resist, it was clear that Austin’s brother, Damon, finds himself in a predicament: he is accused of using PEDs to enhance his performance after coming off of a concussion. Thus, Dare to Tempt becomes a little bit romantic suspense and a little bunch of hate-to-love, a compelling combination of romantic tropes.
In comparing the two books, Dare to Tempt won my heart. For one, it didn’t have the busyness of storylines as Dare to Resist did. Phillips clearly wrote individual struggles for both Austin and Quinn in that book plus adding in a secret baby, and you found your head spinning. In Dare to Tempt, Carly Phillips flexes her romance muscle by coupling two characters, Damon and Evie, and keeping their story focused. At first glance, these two seem like oil and vinegar, and Phillips sets up the tension of the story right away when Damon passes judgment on Evie based on her appearance. Right at the beginning, Phillips hits us with the idea that we ought not to “judge a book by its cover” as Evie quickly schools Damon. At that moment, Phillips began to win me over.
Next, Phillips crafts my favorite type of heroic archetype: the alpha-male hero with a soft heart. While Damon makes a quick judgment about Evie, after she proves him wrong, quite quickly Phillips has Damon devolve into a compassionate protector. There is no lingering with Damon in his disbelief over Evie. He recognizes her worth and ability quickly. The second aspect of the story that I appreciated from Phillips is the crafting of Damon’s thinking. It is easy for alpha heroes to reduce their heroines. They hide it behind their protective and “loving” nature. Damon appears to follow this suit, but Phillips writes this well in that he rationalizes his thoughts about Evie and his want to protect her that she creates a feminist in Damon. This doesn’t undermine his alpha tendencies; instead, it illustrates productive ways of crafting heroes in today’s society. Damon goes from 0 to 5 stars through Phillips’s careful depiction of him.
Thirdly, Evie is the type of heroine who challenges typical heroine archetypes. She’s strong, dogged in her pursuit of Damon’s truth. Like strong women, however, she struggles with vulnerability, and this becomes a third message of Phillip’s Dare to Tempt. She illustrates the challenges for women who are intelligent and strong to allow themselves to be vulnerable as it looks like weakness. This becomes Evie’s struggle through the book, but Damon’s ability to allow her the space to reconcile it is my third favorite part of this book.
Lastly, I loved the romantic suspense of this story. Carly Phillips carefully intertwines that part of the story with Damon and Evie’s journey. There are a few times when it seemed as though Evie forgets her investigative work, but Phillips reintroduces it into the story, revealing the resolution at just the right time.
If you are new to Carly Phillips, and you don’t know where to start, you could absolutely go back to the beginning and read the extended Dare universe. However, if you want to jump in feet first, Dare to Resist and Dare to Tempt, the newest book of the Dare Nation series, are a great place to begin. Phillips’s romances involve fiery chemistry, insightful storytelling, and a complex family that has a character for anyone. For me, thus far, Dare to Tempt is my favorite of the Dare Nation books. Yet, I can’t wait for Jaxon’s story because marriage of convenience plus playboy baseball player feels like a winner.
In love and romance,