The Dating Dare (A Sweet Mess: Book 2) by Jayci Lee

Book Cover

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of publication: August 3rd, 2021

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Series: A Sweet Mess

A Sweet Mess—Book 1

The Dating Dare—Book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

Jayci Lee, the author of A Sweet Mess, returns with The Dating Dare—her next witty, chemistry-filled romantic comedy.

Tara Park doesn’t do serious relationships. Neither does she hop into bed with virtual strangers. Especially when that particular stranger is her best friend’s new brother-in-law. It isn’t an easy decision, though. Seth Kim is temptation personified. His unreasonably handsome looks and charming personality makes him easy on the eyes and good for her ego.

When a friendly game of Truth or Dare leads to an uncomplicated four-date arrangement with Seth, Tara can’t say she minds. But their dates, while sweet and sexy, have a tendency to hit roadblocks. Thankfully, their non-dates and chance meetings get frequent and heated.

Seth is leaving for a new job in Paris in a month and a no-strings-attached fling seemed like a nice little distraction for both… But soon Seth realizes that Tara Park doesn’t come in a “nice & little” package–she’s funny and bold, sweet and sexy, and everything he ever wanted and never expected to find. Neither of them are ready for something serious and both have past relationship baggage they’ve been ignoring, but with a shot at forever on the line will they follow their hearts and take a chance on happily-ever-after?


First Line:

The wedding was picture-perfect.

The Dating Dare by Jayci Lee

I was initially very excited to read The Dating Dare. I had read nothing but great reviews about it. So, when it came time for me to read it, I dove right in. I finished the book with a strong dislike for Tara, pity for Seth, and an overall sense of “meh

The Dating Dare is the 2nd book in the A Sweet Mess series. I would strongly suggest reading A Sweet Mess (book 1) before you read The Dating Dare. I had a hard time following different relationships (not romantic, friends), and I believe it would have helped if I had read A Sweet Mess first.

The plot for The Dating Dare was exciting and had a solid start. I like romances that have unconventional beginnings, and Tara and Seth’s most certainly did. But, towards the middle of the book, I started to lose interest which is sad because I enjoyed how it started.

As I mentioned above, I was not too fond of Tara. While I felt terrible for her (her backstory is sad), it gave her no excuse to treat Seth the way she did. She manipulated him on so many levels. After a while, just reading her interactions with him gave me a bad taste in my mouth. She did redeem herself a tiny bit by the end of the book (her whole confession was sweet), but I still didn’t like her.

I felt bad for Seth. He had a bad relationship and kept away from women, relationship-wise, for a long time (I am sure he did the nasty with rando people). So, he fell hard for Tara. Everything he did for her was sweet. She didn’t go to her prom; he recreated it. He played dragon with random kids in a park to be near her. I was halfway in love with him myself. So, I was frustrated when he kept accepting her apologies and dismissing her bad behavior. I wanted to shake him and say, “Drop her!!” But, of course, since this is a fictional book, you know how the story ends.

The romance angle of the book was sweet during the first half of the book. I sighed with every romantic thing that Seth did for Tara. But, by the end of the book, the romance had soured on me. Tara’s lousy behavior and Seth’s passiveness just killed that vibe for me.

The sex scenes were OK. Tara and Seth had sizzling chemistry that led to some hot kissing scenes. But once they had sex, the chemistry disappeared. It was mainly due to my dislike of Tara, but I couldn’t get into the sex scenes.

The end of The Dating Dare was predictable. I had guessed what Tara was going to do, and I knew what Seth’s response would be. If I had liked Tara more, I would have found joy at their HEA. But I didn’t. All I could feel was “meh.” I will read more of Jayci Lee’s books, though. I refuse to let one book color my opinion of an author.


I would recommend The Dating Dare for anyone over the age of 21. There are sexual situations (including nongraphic sex) and mild language.

Author: Jolie

I love to read. My favorite genres women's fiction, romance (including erotica), psychological thrillers, fantasy, young adult, steampunk, dystopian, LGBTQIA, and paranormal. I am also a busy mom of 3 kids.

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