Double Dare
by Elaine Hopper, contemporary (2000)
Awe-Struck, $4.50, ISBN 1-58749-008-0


Heather Dare's mother Darlene is running for the election. When Heather is pregnant - and unwed - Darlene decides to push the guilt buttons on her. How could she? Now she would ruin her mother's reputation! Oh, you heartless daughter!

Heather then drags her neighbor and all-nice man Jake to pose as the father of the baby. Of course, soon the whole charade starts to become quite complicated when they start taking their pretend roles too seriously.

I try to like Double Dare, I really tried. I only succeeded in liking the nice, affable, everyday Joe hero Jake and wishing that some nice woman would come in and save this poor man from the Dare women. The Dare women are two of the worst female characters I've ever read in a novel.

Heather is the worst. The whole story wouldn't have happened if she has an iota of marrow in her spine. She is the epitome of a contemporary kook heroine went haywire. She couldn't tell her mother that she is pregnant because it was never the right time. Tears from her. She has promised her father to look after her mother (the father must be really close to kicking the bucket to ask such a thing from his spineless daughter). More tears of guilt from her. She ropes in Jake and begs him to "save" her mother, but oh, the pain of lying. Tears start to gush from Ms Waterspout.

Heather can never talk, can never do anything because she is always constrained by guilt, make believe ones most of the time, to actually take any initiative.

Darlene reads like a really nasty caricature of the modern, ambitious woman. Ultimately, the sad thing is, despite all her guts and aggressiveness, Darlene has to conform to the limitations of her sex to please her voters. Or so this book tells me. She is panned for the lack of "feminine" qualities of insecurities that her daughter - "the good one" - displays.

Since Heather is always in tears, tearing up in guilt, or wringing her hands in indecision - when the actual father shows up, she actually has to choose between scum and hero, can you believe that? - the whole story stops being a romance. It becomes instead a moral boost for women like Heather. Heathers of the world, indulge in your neurotism, you'll still get your man.

One Dare woman is bad enough. Double Dare gives me a headache.

Rating: 38


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