Review: Dare to Desire – Carly Phillips

I received this book for free from Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Dare to Desire – Carly PhillipsDare to Desire by Carly Phillips
Series: Dare to Love #2
Published by CP Publishing on April 10, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 294



Quarterback Alex Dare, had it all -- an all-star football career and his choice of willing women -- until a severe injury forces him into early retirement. Social worker Madison Evans grew up in foster homes and knows what it means to have-not. She isn't impressed by Alex Dare’s wealth or charm. Not since she fell hard for him once before, only to discover she was just one of his too-easy conquests.

This time around Madison refuses to succumb to Alex so easily. But Alex wants Madison. And if there is one thing Alex does well, it’s to get what he wants. Can he convince Madison to take a risk and dare to love?

On Monday, I shared my review of Dare to Love, book 1 in the Dare to Love series by Carly Phillips. Today, you can read a bit about equally sensual book 2, Dare to Desire, Alex (Ian’s half brother and Riley’s best childhood friend) and Madison’s story. A&M met in Dare to Love when Madison became close friends with Riley after helping her get through a portion of her torturous past. They attempted the dating thing, a fling rather. The story opened with Alex getting injured on the field and things changing quickly.  Six months later, Alex (football star) wants to try again but Madison isn’t having any of it. He’s not giving up and she’s not giving in. Can they make amends and try it again? No spoilers. Just go read it. You’re invested after reading Dare to Love anyways. 😉

Come back on Friday to read my review of book 3, Dare to Surrender, which is also part of the Invitation to Eden series of 27 books by different authors! More for the TBR!!

Excerpt:

“Alex, I believe you know Madison Evans.”

Blindsided — and his half brother knew it — Alex strode up to her.  He inhaled her familiar fruity scent, which only served as a reminder of the hot times he’d spent breathing her in as his cock moved inside her body. Her effect on him was potent, and even the most common expressions failed him.

“Alex,” she said, her cool tone bringing his head out of the desire-filled fog he’d found himself in.

“Hey, Angel,” he said, using the endearment he’d started calling her during their brief time together.  Another sign he’d had it bad, whether he’d wanted to admit it or not.

Her head whipped up, her eyes narrowing and settling on Ian.  “This won’t work.”  She turned to go.

Alex still had excellent reflexes, and he grabbed her arm before she could stride past him.

She glared.

He didn’t look away, determined to win this battle of wills.  This potential job, which had interested him on an intellectual and emotional level initially, suddenly felt even more important, and she was the reason.

“We need to talk,” he insisted.

“I have nothing to say.”

“Ian’s proposition said otherwise.”

Madison looked over his shoulder in search of Ian and frowned.  “Well, the traitor is gone.  No big surprise there.”

Smart man, Alex thought.  “If I let you go, will you stay long enough to discuss this position Ian and Riley want me to take?”

She let out a frustrated puff of air.

He took that as a yes and released her.

“Us working together is not a good idea, and somewhere in that thick head of yours, you know that.”

“Because we slept together? More than a couple of times?”

She set her jaw.  “That was a mistake.”

Ouch.  That hurt, he thought, and filed away the why to deal with later.  “I want to know more about this training program and what my role in it would be.”

“Why? You can’t possibly be interested.”

“It sounds more like you don’t want me to be interested.”

She rolled her shoulders back even farther, stiffening her posture.  “You’re right.  I don’t.  This is a serious project that could help a lot of people and have far-reaching positive repercussions for years to come.  I need a partner willing to go all in.  And let’s face it, I’ve seen your staying power.  It’s nonexistent.”

He winced, knowing she was really referring to him and relationships.  And she was right.  At least, that’s how he had been.  Six months with nothing to do but live in his own head, had brought changes she knew nothing about.

Eyebrows raised, stern expression on her face, she glared at him as if he were something she’d scraped off her shoe.

In the span of five minutes, she’d insulted him more than anyone had in probably his entire life.  So why was he turned on? He shifted his stance in a futile effort to adjust his cock and gain some sort of ease or comfort.  Not happening around her, and he knew it.

“I’ll give you that one insult because I deserved it.”

She wrinkled her nose in confusion.

Good. He liked her off balance.  Much better than spitting mad.  “Any more and I’ll have to take action.”

She opened her mouth then closed it again, because as they were both intimately aware, he’d have no trouble following through on his threat.

“Care to tell me what you have planned for this program?” he asked, deliberately all business.  He strode over to the chair at the head of the table and settled in.

She obviously realized he was serious because she headed for the stack of folders on the table and sifted through them.

Coming up with the one she wanted, she opened it and glanced down only briefly before speaking.  “Football players — anyone in training for prolonged periods of time — live a very regimented life.  From what and when they eat to their exercise routine to when to practice and attend team meetings, everything is laid out for them.  One injury and everything changes.”  She eyed him warily from beneath her lashes.

He was surprised she’d still worry about his feelings after how he’d treated her.  “Go on.  I can take it.”

She nodded.  “Suddenly they can eat what they want, when they want, and they gain unhealthy amounts of weight that isn’t balanced out by the exercise they used to do.  Lack of education and preparation result in poor financial choices.  Most athletes run through any good money they might have made in a short amount of time.  Marriages crumble from the strain.  Not to mention, they get bored, and depression sets in.  I have statistics, but for now, you can just take my word for it.”

He didn’t have to.  He’d begun experiencing some of it himself.

“What’s your solution?” he asked, impressed with the knowledge she already had regarding the problem they faced.

“Education.”  She tapped the folder on the table.  “All football colleges and universities need to have programs geared to post-career options.  It’s not enough to offer a finance or business major.  They need to target post-professional life.  From our perspective, that means we start from the ground up. We contact schools and propose just such an approach.  We hire ex-players willing to speak to the kids about the importance of thinking beyond football.  And at a team level, we begin to provide all sorts of counseling and training.  Nutrition, business classes, psychological counseling.  Another goal is to eliminate the stigma of retirement, and to do that, we need to prepare our players for the future.”  She finished her speech, her cheeks flushed pink and her eyes wide, her passion for the subject evident.

Fuck, she was gorgeous.

He’d seen a similar look on her face before, right before he’d slid his fingers inside her and teased her to climax.  He closed his eyes, dragging in a controlled breath.

Wrong time, wrong place.  Wrong everything.

He might want to return to where they’d been before he’d opened his big mouth and thrown her out of his hospital room, but she wanted nothing to do with him.  She didn’t trust him, and he didn’t blame her.  He needed to win her over before he could let himself even think about sinking back into her body.  She needed to see he’d changed, grown up.

And maybe he needed to prove the same thing to himself.

“I’m in,” he told her.

“Excuse me?”

“I’ll take the job.”

She pinched the bridge of her nose.  “Didn’t Ian tell you it’s up to me who to hire?”

Alex shook his head, silently cursing his manipulative brother.  “No, I think the plan was to throw us in here like gladiators and see who survived.”

To his surprise, she let out an amused laugh.

The desire to kiss the dimples on either side of her mouth was strong.  Beneath the table, he curled his fingers into fists, curbing his desire.  His frustration wasn’t as easily controlled.

“I really don’t think we can work together,” she said, sobering.

“Then I’ll just have to convince you otherwise.”