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Crescent Blues Book ViewsBerkley (Paperback), ISBN 0425192768

"When I walked into my family room, and you were dancing, and you looked up, and before you threw your bra at me, I looked straight into your eyes -- "

Book: Elda Minger, The Dare
Can we readers conclude this quote didn't spring from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet? Yes, we sophisticated readers know from the beginning, when nervous bride-to-be Mindy asks best friend/maid-of-honor Alyssa to crash her fiancé Tom's bachelor party as part of the entertainment, that we are not turning the pages of a soon-to-be classic. Instead, we're treated to Elda Minger's The Dare, an entertaining story about being brave versus playing it safe, shutting down versus falling in love.

A dancer by trade, Alyssa eases into the role of Bambi, one of the dancers at Tom's bachelor party. However, she gets into the act a little too much, much to the annoyance of Cooper, best man/bachelor party host.

By disguising herself for the evening, Alyssa believes that she can let go of her inhibitions and be anyone she wants to be, at least for one magical night (think Cinderella in thigh-high black boots). Throwing her bra into the crowd may be a little above and beyond the call of maid-of-honor duties, but, hey, when in Rome…

After arguing with Cooper involving the bra throwing, Alyssa challenges him to a game of Truth or Dare. What's a fake stripper to do but continue to play the part she created? One thing leads to another, which tends to happen in these situations, and Cooper and Alyssa share one passion-filled night together. She departs early the next morning before he wakes, leaving behind nothing but her purple Mardi Gras mask. Not exactly a glass slipper, but Cinderella wore more clothes, too.

Following the wedding, Alyssa, fearful of giving her heart to anyone, plans on returning to San Francisco, sure she'll never see Cooper again. Doesn't this girl read romance novels? Perhaps an even better question would be, doesn't she realize smart guy Cooper will figure out her true identity when they meet up again at the wedding? Needless to say, things do not go as Alyssa planned.

It seems their one night together made a tremendous impact on Cooper, a workaholic in need of a life. He will move heaven and earth (as well as his successful business) to be with Alyssa. Cooper travels across the country to find the woman he believes to be his destiny (kind of like Sleepless in Seattle with a one-nighter). Too bad for him Alyssa doesn't want anything to do with love. Giving her heart to someone would be the ultimate dare.

Taking place at Christmastime, Minger does an excellent job of setting each scene, complete with references to such holiday classics as It's A Wonderful Life and White Christmas (not to mention a little fake snow thrown in for an additional Christmassy effect). In summary, Minger gives her readers a Dare worth taking.

Meg Corcoran

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