[Ren] Down for the Count (Dare Me #1) and Down and Dirty (Dare Me #2) by Christine Bell

Down for the Count (Dare Me #1) by Christine BellAvengers vs X-Men badgeTitle: Down for the Count (Dare Me #1)
Author: Christine Bell
Published: September 20th, 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5 teacups

Lacey has been married for just a couple of hours when she catches her new husband having sex with one of her bridesmaids. Fortunately, before she can have a meltdown, her best friend’s brother and childhood crush Galen “rescues” her from the wedding reception. During a drunken game of truth or dare (because why not) the two have the brilliant idea that Lacey should go on her honeymoon. With Galen. Because Galen is torn between wanting to look after Lacey and wanting to bone Lacey, though to his credit he mostly wants to look after her at the start. So they go to Puerto Rico and, this being a romance, sex and feelings ensue.

Shoutout to Denise for reviewing Christine Bell’s newest book and making me want to read it. I really liked this one. The plot is nothing groundbreaking, there’s two childhood friends who have liked each other for a while and they’re kind of dumb so it takes them a while to notice, but it’s well written. It’s a feel-good book, the literary equivalent of a chocolate muffin — there’s a part of me who thinks I should go for the healthy muesli serious book, but the muffin is just sooo nice. The banter between Lacey and Galen is fun. There is no obnoxious purple prose. And (thankfully, after my recent bad-book-sex experiences) the sex is steamy.

Characters make or break a romance, and Lacey and Galen definitely made this one. Lacey is at the same time insecure and a bit of a control freak. It was very easy for me to relate when she said that she’d never done anything adventurous in her life, and she was sure that if she tried it would immediately go wrong. She just isn’t able to relax, thanks to her overbearing mother, and she spends most of the book in a panic. She’s never whiny, though, and her nervousness is more than justified by what she’s going through. Galen is also great. The backcover blurb calls him a “bad boy” but literally the only person who thinks that is Lacey’s snobbish mother. Aside from the fact that he likes to tease Lacey with her childhood nickname, Galen is extremely nice. And I don’t mean “pretending to be nice while actually bullying her around and taking advantage of her fragile state of mind”. Genuine, 100% nicety. I was a bit worried about consent issues at the beginning, because of the drunken truth and dare when Lacey has just found out about the cheating and she’s falling to pieces, but nothing happens. Galen never pressures Lacey into anything and lets her make her own choices, and his first concern is to support her through all the shit she’s going through.

If I had to pick one single thing to complain about, it’s that the division in chapters is really awful. Some are super long and some are super short and there’s no rhyme and reason to it. Two pages into chapter twelve there’s a time skip of one month — I had to read it twice to make sure. Wouldn’t it be more natural to tack those two pages at the end of chapter eleven and start the new chapter after the time skip in a new location? Or just ditch chapters entirely. But you know I really liked a book if the wonky chapters are the only thing I’m nitpicking.

Down and Dirty (Dare Me #2) by Christine BellAvengers vs X-Men badgeTitle: Down and Dirty (Dare Me #2)
Author: Christine Bell
Published: February 23rd, 2013
Rating: 2 out of 5 teacups

Here we go again: yet another series where a good first book is followed by a lackluster sequel. This time we’re following Cat, the best friend of Lacey and sister of Galen from the first book. And also Shane, who didn’t show up in the first book but is apparently Galen’s best friend. Cat and Shane have been hung up on each other since the time they almost banged in high school, so Lacey’s like “hey Cat you should totally bang Shane and get him out of your system” and Cat’s like “challenge accepted”. No, really, that’s how the book starts. Obviously they have very hot sex and end up even more hung up on each other, but it takes them the whole book to get together because Cat has commitment issues.

You might guess from my description of the plot that I didn’t think much of it. I liked Cat’s character in the first book and I was excited to read about her, but she’s a terrible protagonist. She’s constantly changing her mind and going from “must stay away from Shane” to “must get into Shane’s pants now” and it’s really hard to root for her because her motivations are so confused. She also wants to be independent, but since she’s unable to go for more than a couple of chapters without accidentally hurting herself, I’m really not sure that it’s a good idea to leave her without adult supervision. I was pissed at Shane for being overprotective and stopping her from joining the search for the missing child, but let’s be real, it’s very likely that she would have slipped and fallen into the lake and caught pneumonia.

As for Shane, he kind of gave me the creeps at times. He keeps talking about how Cat really loves him and only needs to realize it, and he starts the book by moving from the West Coast to New York to be near Cat despite the fact that he and Cat are barely friends at the time. Obviously it does work out, because this is a romance and Cat does love him, but if she didn’t then everything Shane does in the book is kind of creepy and stalkerish. Not that Cat herself is much better, since the first time she has sex with Shane by sneaking into his bed and molesting him while he’s asleep.

So… yeah. I didn’t get why those two nitwits belonged together. The first 95% of the book makes a compelling case that they don’t belong together and that they only have sexual chemistry, but in the last chapter they’re thrown together anyway and I have no idea why. As a bonus, even Lacey got on my nerves in this one, with her constant nagging that Cat will never be happy unless she’s in a committed, long-term relationship. Overall, meh. Unless you’re a stickler for following series order, I’d suggest to skip this book.



2 thoughts on “[Ren] Down for the Count (Dare Me #1) and Down and Dirty (Dare Me #2) by Christine Bell

    • I just finished the third book (they’re quite short) and it’s way better than the second. The writing is good, it’s just that the characters of the second book don’t look like they belong together. At all.

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