Cover Image: Don't You Dare

Don't You Dare

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Member Reviews

A gripping and page turning physcological thriller that I liked but didn't love. The affairs and deceit just didn't tell for me.
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When I initally requested this book, it was portrayed as similar to Riley Sager or Wendy Walker. so I assumed this was more of a murder book. Like a really murder-y murder book. This was not,  I didn't enjoy the "steamy sections", this book just wasn't a win for myself. 

The writing was great, and I moved along the book quickly. It was easy to read and follow the story. Seemed a bit silly that theses adults are still playing the same game as when they were children. But the book was good. I enjoyed it
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I really liked this one. I love a good dual timeline mystery. Fun, twisty, and steamy! Thank you to Crooked Lane books for my copy!
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Don't You Dare is a wild, steamy ride! I loved the author’s previous book and was excited to read this one. The story follows a woman in her midthirties stuck in her life, unhappily married and in a rut. She's devoted to her children, but finds her life banal and tedious. She often reflects on Thomas, her great college love. We know the narrator made some questionable decisions in college, but we're not sure what. 

She had a close relationship with her best friend and Thomas and they played the Daring Game, where they dared each other to participate in escalating risky activities. Thomas returns and the Daring Game is resumed. Also at the same time, the narrator receives threats and there is someone lurking in their idyllic suburban neighborhood. The story took some excellent twists and turns. The style reminded me of Jeneva Rose. I listened to the riveting audiobook, which was perfectly narrated by Hillary Huber. A perfect summer read!

Thank you NetGalley and the publishers for providing this ebook and audiobook ARC. All thoughts are my own.
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This was so fast paced and it kept me intrigued through out. Although the characters were unlikable, they were still interesting! The story was strong enough for me to want to continue.
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It might have been the wrong time for me to try and read this but I didn't really enjoy it. I was close to DNFing because it just seemed a bit unrealistic and Hannah's behaviour was questionable. Thrillers aren't always my cup of tea, until they are, but this one felt a bit lukewarm.
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I didn't love this one. You have to suspend disbelief quite a bit to enjoy the idea behind the novel. I didn't believe that an adult would so easily put her family in jeopardy to play a "daring" game with an old friend. 

I received an advance copy. All thoughts are my own.
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"When best friends Hannah and Scarlett meet Thomas in college—the chemistry is instantaneous. They grow closer while playing the Daring Game, where each dare is riskier than the last. As the trio's friendship begins to cross boundaries between the platonic and the illicit, jealousy and secrets quickly develop. As tensions between the three grow, so do the stakes in the Daring Game, resulting in tragedy with Scarlett’s final dare to Thomas. When Thomas gets expelled from school and leaves without a trace, it seems like the Daring Game has finally ended.
Sixteen years later, Hannah is unhappy in marriage and in life. That is, of course, until she gets a mysterious letter about the Daring Game from none other than Thomas himself. With Scarlett out of the picture, and a renewal of the dangerous game, the sparks begin to fly between them once more. Until the day Hannah and Thomas are called to the secret meeting place of the Daring Game, where they’re welcomed by a single dare—“to tell the truth.”"

My Thoughts:
This story feels more about the characters and their obsession with one another than an edge of your seat thriller. Told from Hannah's POV we read a lot about her attraction to Thomas, issues with her husband, guilt, pain, and challenging friendship with Scarlet. The story does jump back and forth between the past and present, which is what saved it for me. The present timeline of Hannah drinking wine and wanting to be with Thomas became a bit boring, so we needed the slow clues of the excitement in the past to shake things up. Overall this is a solid mystery, perfect for those who enjoy getting to know the characters over edge of your seat action.

⭐⭐⭐💫 (3.5)

Thank you to @netgalley , @crookedlanebooks , and @dreamscape_media for the gifted copy of this book.
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This isn’t my favorite thriller, but it was entertaining. I felt like the pacing of the story was really good. There were so many twists, and it kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I also loved that it had a romance and spice element to it, which is uncommon in thrillers.
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I wanted to like this book more than I did. It’s a well written dual timeline written from the perspective of the main character Hannah. It tells of her time at college where she and her best friend Scarlett formed a threesome with Thomas. They became exclusive, hanging around together and not making any other friends. They started playing a game called the Daring Game where they would take their turns to dare each other to do something outside their comfort zone. However, one day the dare goes too far, someone is seriously injured and Thomas is expelled from college. 

Fifteen years later Thomas hasn’t been heard from again, Scarlett is in Australia and Hannah is married to Evan, who she met in her final year in college and has two daughters. After a recent miscarriage and subsequent hysterectomy, she experienced grief and depression and was hospitalised for a period. Now she’s given up her job and is an unhappy stay at home mum who drinks too much and her husband doesn’t help by constantly pointing out her drinking and her failings at being a good wife and mother. And then Thomas arrives back in her life and they immediately become obsessed with each other again and start playing the Daring Game again.

I find it hard to enjoy a book where all the characters are unlikeable and have no redeeming features – it’s just so hard to feel empathy for any of them. Hannah is clearly struggling with her mental health, but I found her very self-indulgent in many ways, especially jumping straight back into an affair with Thomas and then agreeing to re-start their childish game that caused them both so much trouble in the past. Thomas was also so incredibly selfish and I also found it odd that he jumped back into her life after fifteen years, revealing he'd never stopped loving her (so why wait so long?). Evan was also very unlikeable in the way he constantly picked at Hannah’s faults, even calling her out in public and keeping tabs on where she went during the day. I also disliked the ending which seemed to be pulled out of nowhere after a big lead up pointing in another direction. Some readers might enjoy such a major twist out of left field, but I prefer the author to give a few hints that can be seen in retrospect as setting up that finale.
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After a couple of ARCs running either long or deep, I decided to pick up Jessica Hamilton’s Don’t You Dare today to cleanse the palette with some lovely crime, mystery, suspense, and thrills. It was nice to have something fast-paced, erotic, and suspenseful to read today since I’m kind of wound up and anxious myself (my mom’s having knee replacement surgery tomorrow, so we’re all kind of wound up around here). 

I know exactly what it was about this book that drew me in: The commiseration I felt with Hannah (our protagonist) as she realizes she accidentally slept in and her husband has no compunctions about leaving her a passive-aggressive note about how it, and the way he constantly nitpicks at her as if he’s perfect and she should be ashamed of the hot mess she is. The shame mothers the world over feel of not being good enough, of not doing enough or being enough is an almost universal feeling that we can’t help but be pulled in by, as if we want to automatically create some sort of sympathetic bond with a character like Hannah and let her know that we’re all hot messes behind closed doors. Some of us just hide it better than others. 

And then what hooked me was how just as it seems Hannah is absolutely headed to self-destruction and deep depression, the man she loved so deeply in college but lost to the combined efforts of a toxic game she, her best friend, and the man she loved played called “The Daring Game” and her vindictive best friend’s vengeful machinations suddenly appears in the city she lives in, saying he’s moved back and why don’t the two of them pick up “The Daring Game” just for fun between the two of them? Wouldn’t it be fun to do silly and daring things before they truly get too old to be daring? 

This book plays off a dual timeline: One taking place in the present, and one taking place back when Hannah, Scarlett (the bestie), and Thomas (the friend turned boyfriend) are in college together. Like most dual timeline books, Don’t You Dare plays the present-day timeline off the past timeline. In essence, the past timeline serves to either foreshadow or to outright hint toward what’s coming up soon in the present-day timeline. It’s not so bad the past timeline outright gives away things, but it’s enough that you get an inkling as the book moves along in which direction we might be going. There are genuine surprises here and there, and successful red herrings are deployed, which made me happy. 

The pacing of the novel was definitely what I look for in a suspense thriller like this, though I do wish the author could’ve kept up the same pacing while letting us get a better look at the characters. I’m not saying I wanted this book to be character-driven (this book is definitely plot-driven), but it wouldn’t have hurt to get to know some of the characters a touch better. 

I’m not going to say this is a strong four star review. It’s just barely a four star review. If I had to put it more clearly, I’d say it’s more like 3.75 stars. That 0.25% deduction comes from the woefully underdeveloped character of Evan, Hannah’s husband. He’s automatically cast as the villain, but rarely is there truly a villain in a marriage in the case of a marriage like Hannah and Evan’s (I’d explain why, but spoilers). I feel like this book would’ve come across a lot better had we understood Evan more. 

If you’re simply looking for an entertaining read at the level of a “popcorn movie” (you know, grab some popcorn and curl up on the sofa to just watch a fun movie), then this is a good book for that kind of entertainment. It’s not breaking new ground and it’s not revelatory, but it’s a solid good time. 

I was provided a copy of this title by NetGalley and the author. All thoughts, opinions, views, and ideas expressed herein are mine and mine alone. Thank you.

File Under: Domestic Thriller/Forbidden Romance/General Fiction/Mystery/Psychological Fiction/Spice Level 1/Suspense Mystery/Suspense Novel/Suspense Romance
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Thank you Jessica Hamilton, Crooked Lane Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read this ARC e-book. I love a good book that not only has mystery and suspense from the present but intertwines the past., It truly makes the perfect "who done it" but this book made you wonder who and what was to blame the entire time and it was addicting. Two best friends who add in a third during college and become this strange threesome of dares, deception and misguided decisions. While everyone goes their seperate ways they all become intermingled back together and what happens in the past definitely does not stay and nothing is ever really what it seems.
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If you go into this book thinking it’s a thriller, it’s not. I mean, there’s a sense of mystery but you have to get through the main character, Hannah’s, whining and her explicit activities that takes up more than half the book. Hannah self medicates herself with alcohol which leaves her with self doubt and terrible judgment. 

It took everything I had not to DNF because the beginning was as slow as molasses and all the characters were unlikable. I stuck with it to the end, which wasn’t very surprising to me. 

I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for this book, mine might be an unpopular opinion but I suggest that you read it for yourself.
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Story of the book-

When Hannah and Scarlett meet Thomas at college, they have an instant connection. They become closer while playing the Daring Game, in which each dares is more dangerous than the previous. Scarlett dares Thomas one last time as the trio becomes closer and jealously rises—a daring that ends in tragedy. When Thomas is expelled from school and disappears, it appears that the Daring Game has come to an end.

Hannah is still dissatisfied with her marriage and her life sixteen years later. That is until she receives an enigmatic email about the Daring Game from none other than Thomas himself. When Hannah and Thomas are summoned to the location where they initially played the game, they are greeted with a single dare.

Someone else is in on the game and is aware of their affair, even going so far as to leave a cryptic message in Hannah’s house: Don’t You Dare. Hannah has a big list of suspects: Could it be her loud neighbor, Libby, who has her secrets? Or did her husband orchestrate this as retaliation for the scandalous affair? Is Scarlett back and ready to go? Hannah may be set free by the truth, but only if she is willing to lose all she knows and loves.

My review-

This is an unputdownable, addicting, highly intense psychological thriller that meets sexual romance! This novel was completely bizarre, dark, and entirely amazing. I liked how there was uncertainty about who else knew about the game, adding to the intrigue. Furthermore, I was intrigued by where the narrative would lead, and the turmoil all around me was riveting. This is a non-stop fear journey when one of the trio comes up and happens to be Hannah’s former sweetheart, told in alternating portions of the present and 16 years prior. The past has come knocking, and the sparks are flying.

I find it difficult to like a novel in which all of the characters are unlikeable and lack redeeming qualities – it’s simply so difficult to feel empathy for any of them. Hannah is dealing with mental illness, but I thought her to be quite self-indulgent in many respects, particularly falling right back into an affair with Thomas and then consenting to continue the juvenile game that caused them both so much grief in the past. When it became evident that someone knew their secrets, I wavered back and forth on who the perpetrator was. I thought I had it all figured out but was mistaken, and I enjoyed the plot twists.

Everything wraps up rather fast, which I generally don’t like, but it worked with the book’s excellent pacing. I appreciated both the past and current times, albeit I preferred the latter. I couldn’t take my eyes off the narrative for the rest of the day. This story was really convincing, and I was completely engrossed throughout. This book’s idea appealed to me, and I felt it was a fun, sensual, and engaging read. I’d want to read more by this author since their narrative was original and their writing was intriguing.
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This one was okay. Not quite what I was expecting and felt a little young for me at times. I had a hard time wrapping my head around some of the decisions and events in this one, but hey that’s the beauty of books.
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Don't You Dare spend another second not reading this suspenseful thriller! It was amazing! I had a pit in my stomach awaiting the outcome. I simply could not put it down without finding out how things were going to transpire. It was wonderfully written and totally suspenseful. I loved every word. 

Hannah & Scarlett are best friends. They do everything together and no one comes between them. When they meet Thomas he seems to seamlessly fit into their friendship and they quickly become a trio. To keep things interesting they begin playing The Daring Game where each dare becomes riskier than the last and the punishments for not completing a dare can be quite damaging. Thomas' last dare ends in tragedy and he is expelled from school and disappears without a trace. 
Sixteen years later Hannah is stuck in the midst of a failing marriage and Scarlett is galavanting across Australia living her best life. When Hannah receives a mysterious email from Thomas inviting her to the Daring Tree she jumps at the chance to see him again and add a little more excitement to her boring days.  Sparks quickly fly between them, but someone has been watching them and has other ideas about the secrets they keep and dares them to tell the truth.  As they try to keep their secret, the stakes grow higher as the unknown watcher leaves messages inside of Hannah's house and photographs their exploits. Hannah has no idea who she can trust and anyone could be the culprit.

A special thank you to the author, Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for my ARC of this exciting upcoming thriller!
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This successfully created a discombobulated, heady atmosphere as Hannah reconnects with an old college friend and they bring back the dangerous game they played. Hannah's drinking makes her unreliable at times, but readers also get the stress of her depression, her failing marriage, and what that means when Thomas, who she's always had a strong connection to, returns. Solid.
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I could not finish enough of this book to be able to leave a comprehensive review, but I hope it finds its audience and I am grateful to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read an advance copy.
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I don’t even know what to say about this other than I gave it every chance and I just didn’t like it. 

This book is trying hard to be a thriller but then there’s just sex all the time whether it fits within that part of the storyline or not - I mean, if you wanna put out a romance then just say that?? Like I’m here for it, but not in the middle of a thriller when it doesn’t make sense. It was distracting and honestly made it feel like it was all over the place but in reality it wasn’t?? I don’t know. I feel like this just wasn’t for me. 

Now when I say I gave it every chance I mean it. I received an ebook quite some time ago through NetGalley (as in I got it in 2022) and I started it then but wasn’t feeling it so I left it for later. I started it again and wasn’t feeling it but saw the audiobook was available on NetGalley and was granted access. So I started the audiobook instead thinking maybe I needed the narrator to help me out. This was not the case for this book. I will say I don’t think I’d have finished the ebook, but this was the longest 9hrs 40mins of my life. I mean that’s not true, but it FELT like it so that’s something. 

Overall I think this was a promising story that didn’t hit the mark for me. Which is fine - it happens. I definitely did like the narrator and I think she did a great job with it. 

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This is a steamy psychological thriller.  I wasn't expecting the sexy time as that is not normally in the thrillers I read. I love the dual timeline.  It is a fast paced read that had me on the edge of my seat.

Thank you Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the digital arc.
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