Dare To Love by Carly Phillips (Dare To Love #1)

Dare To Love by Carly PhillipsAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Self

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Nikki

Since finding out his father had another family on the side, Ian Dare swore to be the upstanding, responsible man his cheating parent had never been. When it comes to his relatives, he gives his all but in relationships he offers the bare minimum. But one glimpse of sensual Riley Taylor arouses his dominant and protective instincts and Ian is entranced. He will do anything to possess her … and does. But any future with Riley must include him extending an olive branch to the half-brother who is a constant reminder of the pain he’d rather forget.

Independent and always in control, Riley Taylor makes no apologies for choosing men carefully. Relationships have never been a priority and she believes herself hardened to domineering men – until she meets charismatic Ian Dare. He manages to turn a simple kiss into an all out assault on her senses and when he takes control in the bedroom, she’s stunned to discover she likes it. 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.

When I was asked to review Carly’s first foray into self publishing I figured I’d get a nice contemporary romance with some laughter sprinkled in. Except that’s really not what I got. Dare To Love is different than a normal Carly Phillips novel. It treads the line of slightly dark as she dips her toe into the waters of erotic romance.

From the moment Ian first sees Riley across the room at a high end function, he’s instantly under her spell. No matter that she’s the best friend of his estranged half brother. He wants to make her his. When he inadvertently causes her to lose his job he feels guilty, which is something he’s not used to feeling. Setting her up within his company allows him to keep her close and pursue her at his leisure. Ian is unaware of the ways in which she is quietly changing him, making him want more when he’s always been a love em and leave em sort. But his need for control may just be what shatters his new found identity. An identity that is tied to the one woman who won’t let him in.

Riley doesn’t trust men who need to be in control. She refuses to bow to any man who wants to dominate her after seeing how her own mother let her father use and abuse her to no end. Unfortunately her body doesn’t agree and is always wanting Ian to push her limits in the bedroom. Though Ian oversteps the boundaries quite often, Riley finds herself falling deeply in love with him. But Riley is stuck in the middle between her best friend (Ian’s half brother) and the man she loves. Two incredibly strong willed men who will have to put aside their arguments if they are to keep her in their lives.

Dare To Love is an angsty twist and turn through basic human emotions and family betrayal. At times, it can get kinda dark but even then I don’t think Phillips was completely ready to enter the BDSM erotic world. She hints at it and the sex scenes are definitely more graphic than what we’ve seen from her in the past, but she doesn’t jump all in. Like Ian…it was a bit…controlled. Ian’s need for control in the bedroom was hot…his need out of the bedroom probably wouldn’t have made me kick him to the curb. The underlying issues as to WHY he needs to control was understandable since his father basically abandoned his family when it comes out he had another family elsewhere. Ian refused to be a part of his half siblings lives and punished them for his Dad’s indiscretions. This caused a huge rift in the family with only the half sisters having anything to do with the other side of the family.

I enjoyed Riley and felt for her and her trust issues to a point. I got why she didn’t want to admit to herself that she enjoyed Ian’s dominating nature in the bedroom, but at some point I wanted her to let him in. Especially after she tells him she will. I kept yelling at the book…Good lord woman, he has betrayal issues and you’re gonna go off and try to solve your problems on your own?! NO!!

These two families, held together with a very tenuous thread by the Dare matriarch, has a lot of issues to work through as they try piece together some semblance of a relationship. I look forward to seeing where this series will go and how far Phillips will dive into the erotic pool. I fully recommend Dare To Love!

I give Dare To Love by Carly Phillips 4.50 stars!


  1. Nikki, like you I was surprised to see the cover and read the excerpt…it sounded more like a Lori Foster book with hard edge than Carly’s sweet, contemporary romances (don’t get me wrong; I LOVE both of these authors). Thank you for your review…I’m so ready to read this book!

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