Story Rating: 3.75 stars
Audio Rating: 3.5 stars
Narrator: Tristan Josiah
Length: 6 hours, 9 minutes
Andy and Jake are the closest of friends. Jake has long been in love with Andy, but since Andy has only dated girls, Jake keeps his feelings to himself. Andy has always had a daredevil streak and the “Jake and Andy Show” keeps all their friends entertained. This latest dare, however, goes all wrong when the firecrackers they are holding go off sooner than expected, leaving both guys with burned palms.
With almost no use of their hands, Andy and Jake spend the summer after college graduation together in a cottage in Cape Cod. Frustration is the name of the game as not only can’t they do the simplest of tasks, they can’t take care of their most basic sexual needs either.
When Andy suggests they get each other off, he’s going for a bit of fun and some experimentation. But for Jake, it’s much more than that. Andy enjoys the closeness much more than he ever thought, but his life is already mapped out. As summer draws to a close, Andy will be heading off to Harvard law while Jake heads to his new job in California. But it may seem that an entire ocean is way more space than the guys need or want.
The premise of this book has a checklist of things that always draw me in—best friends to lovers, one character discovering his bisexuality, and a dash of forced proximity. It all sounded great, but it all stayed fairly even for me.
Jake loves being the center of attention and his somewhat staged dares get his adrenaline going. It’s all that much better because Andy is his constant wingman. The guys are close, yet Andy hasn’t told Jake that he has feelings for him and he also hasn’t told him that he’s bisexual. This last dare of their college career goes off with a bang and both guys are left fairly incapacitated, which sets off them spending the summer together in close quarters.
The title of the book is Five Dares, yet the title sort of got lost for me within the context of the book. The story flashes back to other dares the guys have been involved in throughout the years, but there seemed to be plenty that we don’t hear about. While we learn much later in the book what was going through Jake’s mind during these dares, the significance of calling out a specific number of dares wasn’t presented clearly enough for me.
Jake is the one that suggests the men become intimate and at first it’s a way to take care of a basic need. Andy isn’t going for it right away as he knows he’s already way too invested in Jake. The book just lacked any emotion for me and it came across as rather matter of fact. The narrative also felt somewhat forced to me as if the author didn’t completely capture the age of the guys and what they should sound like.
There are the usual suspects of family obligations, but it didn’t take a whole lot for Jake to fully realize his feelings for Andy, which helped the story along. The ending felt completely contrived to me as the feelings didn’t come across enough for the guys to reach the level that their story took them to. I have read a few books by Easton at this point and since they all have been just okay for me, this author may just not be the one for me.
The audio version may have added to the issues here. Tristan Josiah didn’t wow me here with his performance. Andy and Jake sounded largely the same, which made their characters feel largely interchangeable due to the vocals, as well as the narrative itself. There was also none of the emotion portrayed that the characters were said to have. The parents sounded overly stereotypical and it wasn’t a good fit for me. There were several female side characters and the narrator’s default was to make them all sound high pitched and whiny, which didn’t sit well with me at all. Overall, this particular narrator’s interpretation didn’t add much for me.