Review: Five Dares by Eli Easton


Note: This ARC was provided by Riptide Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

There was only air, the wind whipping me, sheer terror-joy, and a breathless moment of defying gravity before it pulled us down.
We landed, jolting so hard both Jake and I would have bruises for a week where his chin guard hit me between my shoulders. I managed to keep the bike upright, and the moment we stopped, Jake hopped off. I slammed down the kickstand and got off too, whooping and jumping around, overflowing with an incredible high. Jake grabbed me and we hugged, survivors, daredevils.
I never wanted him to let go.

I've only read two other Eli Easton-penned books, but I loved them both, leading to me having rather high expectations for her latest release, Five Dares, which is also her first with Riptide Publishing. Expectations? Not met. Nope. Those expectations of mine were surpassed, with this standalone going in a direction that took me by surprise, but only in the best way possible. This was a story about two best friends who have just graduated from college and while their lives from middle school onwards almost always seemed to have the same trajectory--because even if it didn't, one would find a way to make it so--Jake Masterson and Andy Tyler are about to go in two different directions. Jake is headed to California to start work at an IT company while Andy is off to Harvard in Massachusetts to begin law school. So, why not one final dare to close the Andy and Jake Show with a bang, right?
Only this bang becomes a literal one times two. The burns to their hands have these best of friends heading to Nantucket for the summer. One summer to recuperate and heal... one last summer that'll change both their lives.

Andy and Jake are two twenty-two-year-old guys who are about to start new chapters, only this time around, they won't be doing it together. Theirs is a friendship that's been strengthened over a lot of years, not just by their love and respect for each other but also the trust that they put in each other's hands every single time they engage in one of their dares--dares that Andy has a habit of concocting. Their story isn't just told in the present; we get snippets of the history of their friendship and the conflicting and confusing feelings that they were not prepared to confront before. But with bandaged hands that have second- and third-degree burns and being together in one cottage for the summer forces the two of them to finally do some soul-searching and heavy duty contemplating. I think that what I loved best about these two is that they were exactly what I expected as two young men in their early twenties who were recent graduates and were now going to have to go through changes that would affect their friendship whether they wanted it or not. It was that realistic and honest portrayal that impressed me most.

There's a point in the story where things take a more serious turn, and it's at that point where one of the characters comes to certain realizations--realizations that had me sitting up, gobsmacked as much as he was to have missed clues in the past. I mean, there was no doubting that there were more than platonic feelings in play, but for those feelings to have been far more deeply rooted than I realized? Well, color me surprised and totally swooned over. If you think this is merely another one of those gay-for-you stories or one that's all about two best friends who explore their sexuality together and then ride off to the sunset, think again. There's much more that goes on with Andy and Jake, and there are more issues that they need to confront, and these aren't necessarily issues that have to solely due with sexuality. I know I'm only three books into Eli Easton's list of published work, but these were three very different books, and each one left me impressed and sated. I need to make amends and get working on her back list, but whether you've read Easton before or not, Five Dares is a five-plus-starred must-read. ♥

Date Read: 03 October 2017

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