4:00 pm EDT, June 17, 2020

‘The Dare’ book review: Thank you, Elle Kennedy, for blessing us with Briar U

I don’t want to say goodbye to Briar U, but Elle Kennedy brings her incredible spinoff series to one hell of a conclusion in The Dare.

I know I mentioned this in the excerpt post, but it was really hard to believe I could love the heroes and heroines of the Briar U series as much as I loved Garrett and Hannah, John and Grace, Dean and Allie, and Tucker and Sabrina in the Off Campus books. BUT I DID. All four of the Briar U couples are special and lovely and hit on so very many of my favorite tropes and character traits.

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I am incredibly sad to have to leave the Briar U series behind for whatever Elle has planned for her New Adult reading fans next, but I am so beyond grateful to have gotten to read Fitz and Summer’s opposites attract story, Brenna and Jake’s forbidden romance, Hunter and Demi’s friends-to-lovers story, and last, but certainly never least, Taylor and Conor’s fake relationship that was just too good to ever be truly fake.

Again, I don’t know what Elle has planned for us next (although there are a LOT of new characters from The Play and The Dare that I wouldn’t mind seeing stories for if there’s another spinoff series a few years down the road), but I trust that whatever she has planned for her New Adult readers will be as epic as all the stories that she has already blessed us with. But it’s time to get into what we’re all here to talk about: Conor and Taylor in The Dare.

Elle Kennedy The Dare Briar U

First, I feel like we should all give Elle a rousing round of applause. I wish she could hear the gratitude pouring out of my heart as I clap for the masterpieces she assembled for the Briar U series. Each one has so many of the qualities that I hold in high esteem in my very favorite books, and I know I will be re-reading and recommending The Chase, The Risk, The Play, and The Dare for many years to come.

But we’re all here to celebrate The Dare and talk specifically about Conor and Taylor and their not-so-convincing fake relationship. I only say they weren’t convincing because the only people they were truly fooling was themselves.

I love, love, LOVE, when a romance starts with two characters bonding completely platonically. There’s just something special about watching two people laugh and learn about each other without any of the stress that inevitably arrives when clothes start coming off. So, Conor and Taylor’s secret fake-tryst was the perfect way to kick off their story.

Conor’s introduction in The Play had me desperately wanting to learn what was going on beneath his surface. He and Hunter bonded so thoroughly and easily, I knew there was something going on with Conor that we just weren’t privy to yet. I couldn’t have been more excited to learn that he was going to be the star of the show in The Dare, because I just don’t know if I would have survived never knowing what was going on underneath that surfer-boy, player facade.

And now we know exactly what Elle had up her sleeve with his introduction. I love that in Elle’s stories, the most confident of characters can be the most insecure. While Taylor’s insecurities are a little more obvious and predictable from the get-go, Conor’s inability to see his own worth is the real surprise for me in The Dare. It’s so easy to believe that those that appear to have it all don’t know fear and doubt, but us humans have this inherent skill to overlook our own worth no matter how many great qualities we have to share with the world. I love that Conor is able to overcome a few of his less-than-obvious issues and give Taylor the love she really needs.

And she gives it right back. I can’t help but swoon over how perfectly these two are suited for each other.

But Taylor has needs too, and Conor both meets and exceeds them in The Dare, even as he is suffering his own crisis of confidence. Taylor is an incredible character, and one that I’m so glad to have as a part of the Briar U universe. I think what struck me most about Taylor was her frankness. Not necessarily honesty, because she does a lot of hiding from both herself and the world throughout the pages of The Dare, but Taylor also doesn’t suffer too many fools. I love seeing her alongside Summer, Brenna, and Demi, giving their hockey boys a wall of support when the going gets tough. We all need someone to lean on in this world.

I honestly don’t know if I could have survived their love story if it weren’t for that romance guarantee of a happy ending. Conor and Taylor both did so much self-sabotaging that I seriously doubted they would ever find their way back to each other. But, as all perfect romances, the happy ending prevails, and even the most hopeless of cases gets the love they deserve.

I would love to believe that this won’t be the last we see of Briar University. Yes, it’s the end of the Briar U series, but I, personally, didn’t believe we would get more when the Off Campus books ended, and we all know where that led us. I will hope and pray that someday Briar University and the characters that remain behind will make their voices heard to Elle, but in the meantime, I will enjoy re-reading the incredible stories Elle has given us and count myself lucky to have an entire world of love to escape to.

So, thank you, Elle Kennedy, for giving us more from Briar University.

Get your copy of The Dare, available NOW, from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, or Apple, and don’t forget to add it on Goodreads, too!

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