Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Five Dares by Eli Easton

Andy Tyler has been the class daredevil since middle school. Over the years, he’s convinced his best friend, Jake Masterson, to perform some dangerous-looking stunts with him. But the dare they attempt on the night of their college graduation goes sideways. The firecrackers explode too soon and both of them end up with badly burned palms.

But hey, nothing gets the “terrible two-o” down for long, and they recuperate in style at Andy’s family cottage in Cape Cod. As the weeks go by, both Andy and Jake grow frustrated over the inability to use their hands for all sorts of daily activities—including getting off. So Andy begins a new series of dares that don’t just cross the friendship line, they obliterate it.

But what might be mere sexual relief to Andy is serious business to Jake, who only recently got over years of secret pining for his straight best friend. Inevitably, the burns heal, summer ends, and hearts are broken. To fix things, Andy will have to face the greatest dare of all.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

4.5 Stars

Jake and Andy have been friends since middle school, with Andy always charming Jake into high-risk dares. With a dare gone awry on their graduation night from NYU, the two best friends' futures are put in jeopardy.

The novel spans five dares, each two-fold in the present and the past, showing the evolution of their friendship, and the hold they both have on one another.

Holed up in a beach house to recuperate, Jake and Andy draw closer in a way neither would acknowledge before. Jake has always had a crush on Andy, refusing to tell his best friend he was bisexual, fearing Andy would jump to the right conclusions and it would mess up their friendship.

A lot can change in two months during this friends-to-lovers story. Cute. Humorous. Sweet. Naughty. Sexy. Tension-filled innocence, with the after-effects of heart-punching emotion. Andy baits Jake through a series of dares, forcing Jake to admit how he truly feels, not realizing these same dares will spring forth an existential conflict for himself.

I highly recommend this novel to fans of MM romance, especially the friends-to-lovers trope, with an added kick of angsty deliciousness, where one friend is bisexual and assumes the other is straighter than straight.

I will have to be honest, I skimmed through some of this book. The first dare that we read about that leads up to the current story I read, but all the other dares from when Andy and Jake were younger, I skipped, I didn't really need to know about those, they didn't add anything to the story for me. I wanted more current story. The current part of the story was good. Andy and Jake did one more dare before starting their adult lives on two different sides of the country. I liked how both had feelings for each other, even though one didn't really know that he did until he sat down and thought about it. These two were so good together and when they started "experimenting" at the cabin, things got even better. The love these two had for each other was evident when Andy's dad catches them in a compromising position and finally Andy decided to stand up to his dad after talking to his mom about everything. Overall, I enjoyed the story and there was some steamy sex too.

Five Dares was a sweet coming of age, and coming to grips with their sexuality, story. Jake and Andy were best friends since grade school. Jake was Andy's wingman. His crazy partner who would be in on any dare or stunt Andy could conjure. The two were inseparable until college. One last party and one last dare put the two at a huge risk. They end up injured, their hands having third degree burns from a firecracker stunt gone wrong. Hanging out together for one last summer at Andy's lake cottage while their wounds healed seemed innocent enough. But Jake couldn't keep hiding that he was in love with Andy. Especially after Andy dared him to slake their needs together.

The two were very hot between the sheets and I began to really love the intimacy and the steamy scenes. Andy's uptight and controlling father was a good story strife-maker and the book was well written. I did find some references to the "current political climate" unneeded. In fact, it tore me from the story several times. Andy wanting to be a lawyer and his father reminding him what a "straight man, good old boys club" that profession is, was a bit over the top but understandable when wanting an easy road for their child.

I enjoyed the couple enough to finish the story and the epilogue was spot on, a very nice happily ever after for the boys and a feel good moment that made me smile.

This sweet story about a lifelong friendship that becomes something more is full of joy. And pain. And hope. And parts of it had me laughing out loud. The book starts with a bang. It’s actually an ill-advised explosion that seemed like a good idea to two drunk BFFs celebrating their university graduation. Both Jake and Andy end up badly injured and the pair are forced to spend an uncomfortably intimate summer together while they recover.

The author of this story beautifully captures the mixture of bravado and uncertainty felt by Jake and Andy as they leave the safety of college and start adulting. Both boys are excited for the future but are still wrestling with family pressures and parental expectations.

I loved Jake from the start. He’s a reluctant follower who will do just about anything for his bright, beautiful, daredevil best friend. I spent most of the story wanting to protect Jake’s heart from Andy’s carelessness. Without Andy’s family money, Jake takes adulting a bit more seriously – but he is also free from the suffocating pressure Andy feels to live the life his father has planned for him.

It is hard not to like Andy. He is exciting and fun. He’s the kid who never had to study too hard. And he loves Jake with a passionate loyalty – but only as a friend. There were a couple of times I wanted to kill him but we also see him vulnerable and breaking under pressure.

The bromance to romance between these two is great fun but it is also painfully slow and the lack of communication between Andy and Jack is incredibly frustrating. However, there are some very imaginative, very sexy scenes along the way.

The one part of the story I found hard to believe was that Jake kept his sexuality a secret all the way through university. It might have been plausible ten years ago but I’ve never met someone their age who cares much about sexuality one way or another.

Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal thrillers, a fan-fiction writer, an organic farmer, and a profound sleeper, Eli is happy these days writing love stories.

As an avid reader of such, she is tinkled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with her husband, three bulldogs, two cows, a cat, and a potbellied pig. She enjoys reading in all genres and, when she can be pried away from her ipad, hiking and biking.

Eli Easton has published 24 books in m/m romance since 2013. She won the Rainbow Award for Best Contemporary Romance in 2014 (The Mating of Michael) and in 2016 (A Second Harvest). Her Howl at the Moon series of humorous dog shifter romances have become fan favorites and placed in the Rainbow Awards and the Goodreads M/M Group Reader’s Choice awards. She is best known for romances with humor and a lot of heart.

Connect with Eli

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Five Dares by Eli Easton to read and review.

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