Review: The Dating Dare by Jayci Lee

Title: The Dating Dare
Author: Jayci Lee
Source: ARC from the publisher
Release Date: August 3, 2021
Goodreads  | Amazon

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?

During this pandemic, I’ve made a conscious decision to reach more for lighthearted, fun books – books that would make me smile and laugh, but still had enough depth to pack a punch. I’m happy to report that The Dating Dare is just that!

At its core, The Dating Dare is about two people desperate not to fall in love… actually falling head over heels in love (though of course they don’t know that just yet 😉). During the month that Seth is in town and right before his move to Paris, Tara and Seth agree to see each other exclusively, but casually. They even make a fun little dare – absolutely no falling in love, which they both scoff at, since they’re both allergic to relationships. No problem whatsoever! Tara and Seth have the most amazing chemistry, and they basically spend the entire book bantering back and forth (making me snigger and giggle nonstop). Like they wanted, their month-long hook up starts off casual, but as they spend more time together, it starts to be apparent that it’s actually anything but.

Tara and Seth both went through terrible relationships during college, and these relationships still affect how they perceive love to this day. As a matter of fact, both have never had a serious relationship since then. Also, these past relationships even affected Tara and Seth’s current career choices, which only goes to show how emotional abuse takes a toll on a person. Simply put, they have a lot of baggage. While initially uncomfortable talking about their past experiences, it was rewarding to see Tara and Seth lean on each other, and help each other come out on the other side.

Other than spending time with Tara and Seth, I also enjoyed catching up with Landon and Aubrey, the hero and heroine of the first book. I also couldn’t help but smile at how familiar Tara’s family is – the overprotective older siblings, the mom not so subtly hinting at Tara settling down, and adult Tara having to sneak out to avoid her family’s nosiness. Basically every Asian family ever, right? I also couldn’t get enough of all the descriptions of all the desserts that Tara and Seth eat – someone get me cupcakes, please!

All in all, I really enjoyed The Dating Dare. It’s a sweet read with an intentionally lighthearted story, complete with occasional cheesy dialogue and outlandish situations (Tara and Seth played an evil dragon and prince in need of rescuing at one point!). It’s the perfect comfort read after a long, tiring day. I can’t wait for Jayci Lee’s next book!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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