cover image The Dating Dare

The Dating Dare

Jayci Lee. Griffin, $16.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-62112-2

Lee dishes up a half-baked rom-com grounded appealingly in cultural specificity but littered with tired romance clichés—including treating jealousy and leering as signs of true love. At the wedding of the couple from Lee’s A Sweet Mess, sparks fly between craft brewery owner Tara Park and the groom’s younger brother, photographer Seth Kim. But Seth is moving to Paris soon, so despite their killer chemistry, he doesn’t want to commit. And that suits attachment-avoidant Tara just fine. So when, during a drunken game of truth or dare, Seth challenges Tara to go on four dates with him without falling in love, both think it should be easy. Readers are told that Seth and Tara are kindred spirits, but their connection is never convincingly shown, thanks to uneven pacing and constant interruptions on their dates. An early scene where Seth becomes aroused by a blackout-drunk Tara taking off her clothes may not sit well with readers; the narration hurries to assure them that Seth would never take advantage of Tara, but for many that will be setting the bar too low. Lee’s devoted fans will enjoy her signature fluffy approach, but other rom-com readers can skip this one. [em]Agent: Sarah Younger, Nancy Yost Literary. (Aug.) [/em]