7 Rated Books Book Reviews

Book Review: If you Dare

Title: If You Dare

Author: Kresley Cole

Review number: 41

Genre: Historical Romance

Stand Alone/ Series: First in the McCarrick Brothers series but can be read as stand alone.

Summary: Can he exact revenge? High in the Pyrenees, a band of mercenaries led by Courtland MacCarrick wages war for General Reynaldo Pascal. When Court turns on the evil general, Pascal orders him killed but Court narrowly escapes and exacts revenge by kidnapping Pascal’s exquisite Castilian fiancée. Can she deny her passions? Lady Annalía Tristán Llorente despises her towering, barbaric captor almost as much as she does Pascal. Her inexplicable attraction to the Highlander only fuels her fury. But nothing will stop her from returning to Pascal — for if she doesn’t wed him, she signs her brother’s death warrant, as well as her own. Can there be love between them? From the moment Court discovers that Anna’s prim façade masks a fiery, brave lass, his heart’s ensnared, and he dares to defy the curse that has shadowed his life — to walk with death or walk alone. But Pascal vows that he’ll hunt the two, never stopping until he’s destroyed them both.

Why did I read the book: I love Cole’s IAD series but wasn’t much inclined to read her historicals until I read: Kmont’s review and Rip my Bodice’s review.


I am a big fan of Kresley Cole’s Immortal After Dark Series but I was a bit weary of reading her historicals – I was concerned that her sizzling style and heavy sex scenes that tend to start right in the very first pages of her paranormals would not be fitting in a historical setting. I needed not to worry, she has a different style and voice when writing historicals and If You Dare (and I am glad I did) was simply a most delightful read.

Court McCarrick is a Scottish mercenary who sells his services and of that his band to whoever pays more. As the story begins, he is under the employment of General Reynaldo Pascal in the small European country of Andorra. Although Court needs the money so he can finish paying for the piece of land he bought in the Highlands of Scotland , he realises that Pascal is nothing but a tyrant and decides not to carry on terrorising the poor people anymore. Pascal is not agreeable to this and orders Court to be killed. He is beaten up and manages to escape at the last minute and is found later – almost dead – by Lady Annalia Elisabet Catherina Tristán.

Annalia is an Andorran who hates and fear the Scottish for what they have been doing to
her people. She thinks they are Bestias (beasts) animals that pray on innocent people and she is not very happy when she finds Court near her lands but she ends up taking him to her house to help him recover. She is not afraid to voice the fact she would do the same to any animal she found hurting.

To bring these two together it’s like powder and fire: explosive. They begin things at odds with each other, without any trust – Annalia loathing him and Court thinking of her as spoiled and arrogant. But alas, she needs help: her brother has been taken by the very own Pascal who is using his as leverage to marry Annalia – she has Royal blood and Pascal plans to use this to get to the throne.

Court thinks her brother is dead or will be dead as soon as Pascal gets to marry her – she can’t believe that and plan to go ahead with the wedding, and Court kidnaps her to keep Annalia from making such a mistake. Now, they are being chased by a bunch of maniacs called the Rechazados, assassins who will not stop until they have annihilated their target whilst at the same time trying to find her brother who has escaped captivity with the help of Pascal’s daughter Olivia, another explosive and duplicitous Andorran.

I am having a hard time summarising the plot because it’s quite more complicated than that –behind any of their decision making or behaviour is the fact that these two believe they are cursed. Court’s family is under a curse spelled in his family version of the Book of Shadows:

Not marry, know love, or bind ,their fate
Your line to die for never seed shall take
Death and torment for those caught in the wake

The last two sentences in the curse are illegible but pretty much he and his two brothers believe that they can never marry or have children and that the person they love will always be under terrible danger. So he is terrified when he starts having feelings for Annalia. The Andorran , on the other hand also believes herself to be cursed – to behave like her mother who was seen as a woman who couldn’t control her desires and her passion.

It does require a certain amount of suspension of belief, because of all the curses, the improbability of such a couple ever working out, etc. I am not one reader who enjoy having to put aside my search for a believable plot especially with historicals but I am willing to compromise when it’s clear that the implausible plot is only but a starting point and that what matters is how the characters develop from that point onwards. In this sense, it doesn’t matter if they are really cursed or not, the important is that they BELIEVE they are and how that motivate their actions.

I really like this book. I fell in love with Annalia: she was a complete riot. Yes, spoiled and arrogant sometimes even bordering TSTL territory but she was so full of life and ever so funny with her complicated logic, which fascinated and attracted Court while at the same time almost driving him insane. There is this one sequence when Annalia pulls a stunt that sends her into trouble and she gets shot and she blames HIM for it:

“This is all your fault! I loathe you! Detest you! “
“Damn it , will you stop?” He lift her injured arm in front of her face:
“Look, wench! Look at all the blood everywhere.
Now faint. Should you not be fainting by now?”

She is just not a typical woman and he fights, and he fights, but she will not take a no for an answer when she realises she wants him. That was the best thing for me: how this big brute melts for this woman and can’t believe she would want him at all – a bit of beauty and the beast story to boot. She orders him about and he is certain that the day she learns to ask for things properly, he will be doomed because he won’t be able to deny her anything. So very sweet. Court starts to really fall in love with Annalia and he struggles but he can’t control himself. That makes it for great interactions between them : both funny and endearing leading to a climax with the potential to be heart wrenching given the fact that he can’t shake off his belief that being with her is endangering her life but this is romanceland after all and all is fine in the end.

In other words, read this book.

Notable quotes/Parts: There are many scenes worth quoting, like all the scenes Court just stood awestruck by the incongruities of her brain : “You are a fascinating woman”. Or how he started to feel protective towards her in a very alpha sort of way. But one of my favourites is the one where Olivia, daughter of Pascal thought the two illegible lines in the curse would be:

Not marry, know love, or bind ,their fate
You line to die for never seed shall take
Death and torment for those caught in the wake
Until the blockhead Scot comes to Andorra
To pluck the spoiled little ninny from a

Additional Thoughts: The new book in the Immortals After Dark series comes out TODAY!!!!

Janet at Dear Author has writen an amazing review. (Oh, to have and to hold an ARC….such a dream). My review will be here at this same batspot as soon as Mr Postman decides I waited far too long for my delivery.

Verdict: a delightful read that had me in stiches at some parts with the clever dialogues.

Rating: a solid 7 – very very good.

Reading next: The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

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  • Katie(babs)
    April 29, 2008 at 4:43 am

    Neomi is a great heroine! This book by Cole is my favorite in the whole Immortal series.
    Need to go write my review also… 😀

  • Thea
    April 29, 2008 at 7:10 am

    *ninjas in*

    Well Ana I’m glad you enjoyed it! Great review.

    Ms. Cole and I…well…you know how I feel.

    *ninja vanish!*

  • Kristie (J)
    April 29, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Oh good!! I have this series although not read yet. Damn I wish either we had 48 hour days or I would stay away from the computer or I didn’t work. Any one of those would work to catch up on the TBR pile.

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