Dare Series by Carly Phillips - Spotlight, Book Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

When it comes to family, Ian Dare gives his all but in relationships he offers the bare minimum. Until one glimpse of sensual Riley Taylor arouses his dominant and protective instincts. He will do anything to possess her … and does. But any future with Riley must include him dealing his half-brother who is a constant reminder of the pain he’d rather forget.

Riley Taylor believes herself immune to domineering men – until charismatic Ian Dare turns a simple kiss into an all out assault on her senses and she discovers she likes his brand of control in the bedroom. 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. (love story, contemporary romance, alpha heroes, beach reads, sports heroes, bad boys, billionaire)

She let herself into her building, walked up one flight to her apartment, and was startled to find someone waiting outside her door. Even in the dimly lit hall, she recognized Ian Dare’s tall frame, dark hair, and handsome features. Excitement bubbled up inside her, followed by wariness. 

“Finally,” he said, leading her to believe he’d been standing there awhile. 

She fought against her rapidly beating heart. “What are you doing here?” 

He pushed off the wall and strode toward her. “Do you realize I walked into the building without being buzzed in? I just followed behind a couple who were too busy groping each other to pay attention to who was entering behind them.” 

He didn’t have to further sum up his point. Riley already knew the argument well from Alex and her stepmom. “It’s perfectly safe. I carry mace and I’m careful. And you still haven’t answered my question.” 

Ian ran a hand through his hair, taking the time to tamp down on the anger that had been brewing inside him as he waited for her in this tiny hall that, despite her claim, was far from safe. 

Not for a woman with her full breasts and curvy hips. Not for a woman with that mass of untamed hair and wild beauty, dressed in a short denim skirt with a ruffled edge and black sleeveless top that bared a hint of her stomach. 

He fought for control over his libido and the desire to take her in every way imaginable. “I realize I didn’t return your call, but I’m here now.” 

She met his gaze, brave and unwavering. “Go home. Whatever I needed from you, it’s too late now.” 

His eyes narrowed. “That’s what Alex said, but he refused to elaborate. He said it was your business, so I came to the source. I was busy this week. I had meetings for the draft, and I couldn’t call you back.” 

She raised an eyebrow. “Bull. I’m guessing there are a whole host of reasons why you didn’t get back to me. At the top of the list is that you hate Alex.” 

“I don’t hate him.” He clenched his hands and released them again, searching for focus. “Riley, you left me a message. Just tell me why.” 

“It’s too late.” She walked toward him as she spoke. 

She passed him by, heading for her door, key in hand. “I already lost my job,” she said as she slipped inside her apartment. 

The door slammed closed behind her, leaving him basking in her scent. 

“Son of a bitch.” He knocked hard. 

When she didn’t answer, he tried again. 

And again. 

Worst-case scenario, he’d settle into the hallway for the night and wait to catch her when she left again in the morning. Unwilling to do that, he banged on the door again. 

In the middle of his knock, she swung the door open wide. 

“Fine. Come in,” she said, her eyes narrowed and wary. 

He stepped inside. Once enclosed in her small apartment, her luscious scent wrapped around him once more. His cock took a definite hit as desire filled him along with that burning need only she inspired. Knowing those feelings wouldn’t be welcome, he took in her space. Bright colors on the walls, eclectic pieces of furniture, and a warm feel. She knew how to take a tiny area and make it feel like a true home. 

“Can I get you something to drink?” she asked. 

“No. I just want to know what happened.” 

She expelled a deep breath, causing her breasts to rise and fall beneath the flimsy material. He glanced down, trying not to ogle her cleavage because that made him want to test the weight of her breasts. And once he started touching her, he wouldn’t be able to stop. Instead, he noticed her toenails were painted a bright orange, one toe surrounded by a thin silver ring. Even her fucking feet were sexy. 

“I worked for Blunt Sporting Goods,” she said, unaware of his train of thought. “I was head of their distribution and sales department. The company was sold; the new boss is an ass and began laying people off. I pulled a Hail Mary and told him I had an in with you, that I could get some of our products distributed to the team. He gave me until Friday to get back to him with something substantial. I called. You didn’t. End of story.” She strode over to the door and swung it open, obviously eager to get rid of him. 

He stared in stunned surprise. “You told him that after meeting me for the first time on Saturday night?” 

She raised her chin. “Yep.” 

“After our kiss.” 

Her cheeks turned a healthy pink. “Mmm-hmm.” 

“After you walked away from me without a second glance.” 

She blinked up at him. “I looked back,” she said softly.

Ian Dare is the sexy and domineering President of Miami Thunder, a football team which rivals the Tampa Breakers where his half-brother, Alex, is the current quarterback. When it comes to family, Ian Dare gives his all but in relationships he offers the bare minimum. His hesitance to commitment had something to do with how his father neglected them when they were children. While his father was busy doing his responsibility as a father to his other family, he learned to mature in advance for the sake of his siblings. He had a hard time developing trusts with other people. 

Riley Taylor is the one in charge of distribution in Blunt Sporting Goods, but the job she’s worked for since she was seventeen is being threatened because of the new ownership. She just have to think of way to convince them that she’s an asset to the company. 

Their encounter happened when Ian Dare was forced to attend a party organized by his father. While Riley was obliged to attend because Alex won’t take no for an answer. The moment she entered, he felt a strange kind of emotion towards her. It certainly aroused his dominant and protective instincts. Riley, on the other hand, felt his eyes on her the moment she walked in the function hall. Question is, how will he get her attention knowing that he must get past through her best friend, Alex Dare, the man who has constantly reminded Ian of the pain of he’d rather forget? 

Riley can’t resist Ian even if she tried to, but Ian’s dominance in bed is obstructing her from believing that they could have a future together. She can’t risk it knowing that it may brought back memories of the past. She won’t go there anymore. Riley’s behavior was a product of an abusive past. She had been emotionally and physically abused when she was a kid. Thanks to Alex’s threat, he had been remained incognito through the years. 

Ian is also having a hard time dealing with the fact that the woman, who caught his interest, is best friends with his half-brother. How will he deal with this situation? Do they love each other enough that they’re willing to get past their personal demons? 

Dare to Love is a constant reminder that loving always comes with letting your walls down. Acceptance will be a key to a happy ever after. If we love someone, we should be ready to accept them for who they are. We should accept the bad with the good. When you’re in a relationship, it’s not only about what you like. You must be willing to compromise. It’s not only about what you like. If it comes down to swallowing your pride, so be it, as long as you get to have an HEA with the one you love.

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Quarterback Alex Dare, had it all -- an all-star football career and his choice of willing women -- until a severe injury forces him into early retirement. Social worker Madison Evans grew up in foster homes and knows what it means to have-not. She isn't impressed by Alex Dare’s wealth or charm. Not since she fell hard for him once before, only to discover she was just one of his too-easy conquests.

This time around Madison refuses to succumb to Alex so easily. But Alex wants Madison. And if there is one thing Alex does well, it’s to get what he wants. Can he convince Madison to take a risk and dare to love?

“How did you get so smart?” He toyed with her hair, combing through the strands and twirling it with his finger. 

She let out a sigh. “A lot of practice trying not to focus on bad things, I guess,” she said, surprised she was answering so honestly. 

“I want to know more about those bad things. More about you. The things you don’t talk about,” he said in a low, soothing voice. 

She knew what he wanted. It was a story she rarely told. Someone had to earn her trust and her heart before she’d even consider admitting that neither of her parents had wanted her. Saying it out loud made her vulnerable, and Madison normally didn’t allow many people that close. She’d kept Alex at a distance the first time they were together, even as she’d known how hard she was falling in such a short time. Because she knew he wasn’t a forever kind of guy, and the truth went to the deepest hurt she nursed in her heart. 

But she could no longer hold back from this man. She didn’t want to. He’d been asking for her trust, and if she was going to try, as he seemed to be doing, she had to let him in. 

She sighed and said, “My mom left me and my dad. She said she was going to work one morning, and she never came back. When he realized something was wrong, he called her job, her friends, but no one had heard from her.” She shrugged. “We didn’t have any other family that I knew of, so it was just me and him.” 

He began to stroke her hair, long, soothing touches this time, keeping them connected as she spoke. 

“How old were you?” 

“I was twelve, and it was horrible. My father worked really long hours in construction and came home really late. Looking back, I know he went out drinking before coming home. I would let myself into the house after school, make myself dinner with whatever I could find in the fridge or the pantry, do my homework and … cry myself to sleep.” 

“Fuck,” Alex muttered. 

She was glad he couldn’t see her face and appreciated the strength of his arms wrapped tightly around her. “One day he said we were going clothes shopping. I was really excited because, one, we never ever bought new things, and two, my clothes were getting tighter. I’d started developing and … you know.” 

She pulled in a deep breath, the lump in her throat so big it actually hurt. “You’d think this would get easier.” She buried her face against his side. 

“Take your time, Angel.” His voice was warm and soothing, but she felt the tension emanating from him. 

It wasn’t an easy story to tell. It couldn’t be an easy one to hear. Riley had cried when Madison had told her, and Madison had only given the other woman the bare bones. 

My father dumped me at the mall, never to be seen again. The cold, clinical version. And even then, Madison hadn’t wanted to face her friend after the revelation, but Riley had already inserted herself in Madison’s life and wasn’t going anywhere. She, more than anyone, had taught Madison what a true friend really was. 

She lifted her head and drew a deep breath. “So we went to the mall. My father bought me a soda, and we wandered around the stores for a little while, and then he asked me if I needed to use the bathroom.” Her body shook despite Alex’s secure hold, the day coming back to her in vivid detail. “I went to the ladies’ room, came out…” She couldn’t say the words. To her mortification, a sob came out instead. 

“That bastard,” Alex said, his voice tight, anger evident beneath the surface. 

He embraced her with his entire being, holding her close, but fury vibrated in his big, muscled body. Anger for her. She knew it without him having to explain, and the thought that he cared for her enough to feel that kind of emotion undid her completely. The protective walls that had always kept her apart and distant crumbled around her, and she felt things. Things she never wanted to experience again. 

“No more,” he said into her hair. “Don’t relive it for me.” 

She normally didn’t relive it at all. Didn’t allow herself to remember the intense and all-encompassing pain and loss of that day and every one that followed. But now the dam had broken, and the memories flooded back, along with big, heaving sobs. 

She’d walked out of the mall bathroom, looked around, and her dad had been nowhere to be found. She hadn’t panicked. Not at first. She’d checked all the stores they’d been in. The men’s stores. The food court. Finally she’d returned to the bathroom thinking maybe he’d gone back to find her. Some good Samaritan must have noticed the little girl sitting on the floor outside the restroom crying and called mall security. The rest was a blur, along with the ensuing years of her life spent in foster homes. 

Alex didn’t know how long she sobbed. From the way she cried, he figured it had been forever since she’d let her emotions free, and she exhausted herself in the process. The heavy sobs quieted first. Long after she grew silent, Alex held Madison in his arms, his heart beating hard in his chest. He’d wanted her to trust him, not unleash this kind of grief. Nausea filled him, along with pain that reached to the depths of his soul. 

He stroked her hair, aware of the smallest hiccup or sound she made. Soon her breathing evened out, and he hoped to God she’d fallen asleep. A dreamless, memory-free sleep. She deserved as much.

In Dare to Desire, the story will continue with Alex Dare and Madison Evans. 

Alex Dare was the quarterback of Tampa Breakers. If there was something he shared with Ian, it’s their leave them and love them attitude when it comes to women. He’s been famous, not only as a quarterback but also as playboy. He love the attention, the spotlight, and the fame. So when the social worker assigned to talk to Riley ignored him in favor of the patient she’d been assigned to treat

Madison Evans is a social worker who talk to victims of abuse about their problems. On one of her assignments, she was designated to talk to Riley who has fast become her best friend. She had a hard time trusting people because she knows they’ll leave her in the end. This was deeply-rooted from her experience when her father decided to leave her in a mall for good. She had stayed in several foster and it was only on her last foster home that she found a couple whom she considered her parents. 

She knows that Alex was just looking for a good time and despite those times she kept convincing herself that it was only a fling, she fell for his charms. The got involved in a rendezvous. They indulged themselves in passion and lust they couldn’t quenched. But everything came to end when Alex had an accident while playing football. An accident that ended his career. Something he never thought would come sooner. 

When Ian invited Alex to visit their head office for a job proposition, he immediately accepted it, not knowing that he’ll be working aside the woman he had callously dumped six months ago. Although this time, he made it clear that he will do everything to prove to her that he wasn’t the man he was before. 

Among the three featured Dares, I think Alex is the only man with an outgoing personality and I liked that about him. He exudes confidence that doesn’t intimidate people. He’s more approachable than Ian. He’s more fun. But just like Ian, he has the tendency to get overprotective with his loved ones. He likes to spoil his woman with expensive things. Plus, he’s adorable when he’s jealous. Haha! I also liked the fact that he took his time knowing Maddy. He showed how much he valued her. He showed her that he can be trusted. He thought her to let go and live in the moment. He became her family she had always wished for. 

Madison, on the other hand, though a bit vulnerable at times, proved how poverty will never be a hindrance to succeed. She also showed one important trait that some of us always forget especially when we let our anger cloud our judgment. She gave Alex a second chance. She forgave his misgivings even if it was hard on her part. 

What I liked about this book was how Alex and Madison’s character grew and matured together towards the end. They had become two individuals who valued communication. Instead of running away from their personal issues, they dealt with it together. 

And if you’re wondering about Alex and his brother, they are definitely warming up to each other. They have so many years to catch up on.

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After ending a relationship to a cheating, domineering man, Isabelle Masters takes off in her leased Mercedes, only to be arrested for grand theft and hauled to a local police station. To her surprise, she is rescued by the most unlikely person possible, Gabriel Dare, a man she’s been attracted to for far too long. Gabe offers Isabelle freedom along with an invitation to Eden, an exclusive island resort where everything and anything is possible.

Although Gabe yearns to possess Isabelle, he knows all too well he must fight his primitive need to bind her to him, and instead help bring out the independent woman she yearns to become – or risk losing her for good.

A woman who needs to run her own life. A man who needs to exert control. Can she surrender to his erotic demands without losing her sense of self once more?

The third book in the series features Gabe Dare, Ian and Alex’ cousin. 

Gabe Dare is of the same personality as Ian. He’s serious. He’s famous in the business world. He’s intimidating. He is also the proud owner of exclusive hotels in the swankiest place in the US. He owns the exclusive nightclub, Elite, which caters to the upper-class clientele. He had been features in various online gossip columns for his single, and eligible status. 

Isabelle Masters. She had once been a very confident woman who has the fondness for interior designing. When she met her boyfriend, she fell head over heels in love and even sacrificed her job to become a fulltime wife. Problem was, she miscalculated how controlling her husband was. Her life dramatically changed. She was so obedient to her husband, that she believed and did all his demands. She was surreptitiously abused with every demeaning verbal insult thrown her way when she didn’t adhere to what her husband told her. But as they say, humans have their limitations. And hers surfaced when she saw in graphic details what her husband is doing with their neighbor. She took off with only a $500 in her pocket and with the help of her Mercedes. 

Gabe and Isabelle are friends. Lance manages the financial investments of Gabe so when there are gatherings their paths always cross. Gabe knew it’s disrespectful to grab someone else’s property but he can’t control whatever lust and possessiveness he feels whenever meets Isabelle. Now that Lance is out of the equation, he wants to make a move but he’s afraid it will drive Isabelle away. 

Gabe and Isabelle have issues that were rooted from their experiences. Gabe was twenty-one when his parents died and he didn’t have a choice but to step up and took over the businesses they left. He was left with two siblings to take care of. He handled the hotels, expanded, and branched them into nightclubs. He took sole responsibility of all the businesses because he didn’t want to pressure his siblings. He wanted them to concentrate on their studies and do what they want. Isabelle, on the other hand, left her home when she was a teenager because her parents didn’t want her. She was lucky to find a mentor who was willing to train and hire her. 

Gabe lives for control. He wasn’t able to control his parent’s death but he as hell can control his emotions when it comes to connecting to people. He doesn’t want to feel powerless. But that is what Isabelle makes him feel anyway. 

Isabelle is a woman who wants to run her own life. Being with Lance, thought her one thing, she doesn’t want to lose her sense of self anymore. 

How can the two work together so that they can have a harmonious relationship? That’s where the problem lies. Dare to Surrender is a story of two individuals who were too afraid to give up their power, but in the long run, manage to compromise, and save each other. Gabe’s case is similar with Ian. He learned how to give up his controlling tendencies. He learned how to give in and compromise with Isabelle. His affection towards Isabelle brought out his sweeter side which made him more endearing. I absolutely loved his softer side. Isabelle saw Gabe’s overprotectiveness in a new light. She knew him and understood him in a way that others can’t. 

I absolutely enjoyed reading the Dare Series. Although the plot for the three books were almost similar – an alpha male paired with a damsel in distress – I still loved it. It was fun, sexy and undoubtedly hot. Well, it’s written by Carly Phillips, so those three shouldn’t be a question.

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New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carly Phillips N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carly Phillips has written over 40 sexy contemporary romance novels that today's readers identify with and enjoy. After a successful 15 year career with various New York publishing houses, Carly is making the leap to Indie author, with the goal of giving her readers more books at a faster pace at a better price. Her Serendipity books will still finish up in January/February 2014 via Berkley as planned. Carly lives in Purchase, NY with her family, two nearly adult daughters and two crazy dogs who star on her Facebook Fan Page and website. She's a writer, a knitter of sorts, a wife, and a mom. In addition, she's a Twitter and Internet junkie and is always around to interact with her readers.
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