Book Review: Dare to Love by Carly Phillips

in Book Review, Toni Linenberger


Toni Linenberger
Blonde Betty reviews
The Illustrious  Leader of the Intrepid BBs

Carly Phillips has always been somewhat of a gateway author to me.  Her books are sexy and sweet, nothing over the top, with strong family ties.  Her heroes are typically alpha and her heroines definitely stand up to them.  Most are trilogies or quartets so you have a longer opportunity to get to know the characters and watch the relationship dynamics change.  In addition to the hero / heroine conflict there is typically an overarching family conflict that resolves itself over the set of books.  I have frequently recommended her to friends and family who “don’t read romance, but like a good family story,” those that don’t like anything too spicy, and those that want new authors to try.  Inevitably the response is positive and a fan is born.

With her latest release Dare to Love, and the majority of her books going forward as I understand, Phillips has opted to go indie.  By her own admission, this decision has given her more control of the process and allowed her to spread her wings into the more sexy side of things.

New York Times Bestselling Author Carly Phillips turns up the heat in her newest sexy contemporary romance series, and introduces you to the Dare family… siblings shaped by a father’s secrets and betrayal.

Since finding out his father had another family on the side, Ian Dare swore to be the upstanding, responsible man his cheating parent had never been.  When it comes to his relatives, he gives his all but in relationships he offers the bare minimum.  But one glimpse of sensual Riley Taylor arouses his dominant and protective instincts and Ian is entranced.  He will do anything to possess her … and does.  But any future with Riley must include him extending an olive branch to the half-brother who is a constant reminder of the pain he’d rather forget.

Independent and always in control, Riley Taylor makes no apologies for choosing men carefully.  Relationships have never been a priority and she believes herself hardened to domineering men – until she meets charismatic Ian Dare.  He manages to turn a simple kiss into an all out assault on her senses and when he takes control in the bedroom, she’s stunned to discover she likes it. As their affair heats up, they soon realize they complete each other in ways neither imagined.  But Riley’s past is closer than she cares to remember, and her struggles with Ian’s dominance might just cost her everything.

This book is written in the signature Phillips’ style.  There is a large interconnected family with issues; when dad has two complete families there is bound to be conflict.  There are sports heroes and rival football teams.  There is a hard-headed hero and a heroine that more than holds her own.  The secondary characters are well-developed and will provide the basis for future books.  Each of the siblings deserves their own HEA, so I’m hopeful she has plans for eight books / novellas; or at least a couple slightly longer ones with secondary sub-plots.  She’s on book nine in the Serendipity series, so eight installments is not outside the bounds of reality.

The heat level, however, is not what her regular readers may expect.  There is definitely a greater focus on the sexy and less of a focus on the sweet with this novel.  The physical connection between the hero and heroine becomes a strong driving force facilitating their emotional bond.  If forced to give this novel a classification I would likely label it light-erotica.

Our hero, Ian Dare, is a very dominant hero.  As the oldest he struggles the most with his father’s betrayal by second family.  He doesn’t trust easily and his ability to let others in is almost non-existent.  His desire for control extends to the bedroom, making him overbearing, to a point.  With any other heroine I might have had fewer issues with it.  Riley is a domestic abuse survivor.  That coupled with Ian’s need to be in control, threw me a bit.  I think that their interactions are believable by the end, but there was a little too much too soon.  With the exception of the control issues, I really enjoyed Riley and Ian.

I’m really interested to see where Phillips goes with this series.  She is spreading her wings and taking chances.  I’m not sure where those chances are going to take her and I’m looking forward to going along for the ride.

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