by Lori G. Matthews
Danielle Clark’s life is going according to plan. She’s in the middle of her surgical residency and she and her fiancé, Will, are the perfect match. At least that’s what everyone tells them. When Will brings home a rescue dog, it’s hard to tell who’s less enthused, Dani or her cat, Jinx. The dog wreaks havoc on the household and needs training, but who has time for that? Certainly not Dani.
In steps Kara Britton, owner of a successful kennel. When she picks up Dani’s dog for day care, sparks fly. The wrong kind of sparks. When a frazzled Dani forgets her own dog’s name, Kara is absolutely appalled.
The two women verbally spar at every opportunity, until a breathless, angry kiss rocks both their worlds. Surprised by their attraction, they make a conscious effort to keep their distance. But fickle fate and meddling friends seem to delight in throwing them together.
GCLS Goldie Awards
I Dare You to Love Me — Winner, Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length Novels.
FROM THE AUTHOR
"I’ve only been writing for about six years, but this much I know. I love to write comedy. Situational comedy, physical comedy, verbal comedy, if it makes me laugh, I write it. I’ve had a lot of people ask me, “Where do you come up with this stuff?” I just shrug. I really don’t know. I see a scene in my head, and it might start out mundane, but over the course of a few hours or a few weeks, it turns into a Saturday Night Live skit. This story is chock full of comedy, but there’s more to it than just laughs. There’s also a great slow burn romance between two women who start out disliking each other and end up finding out they’re soul mates."
—Lori G. Matthews
Jessica R. - This super cute enemies-to-lovers romcom by Lori G. Matthews is funny, cute, and full of LGBT love. This book is beautiful. Highly recommend it.
Silvia M. - This book is definitely fitting the rom com bill. Light and humorous… I really enjoyed reading this book… Reading recommended.
Michael W. - I found the book funny, emotional, and an easy read.
The Lesbian Review
A breezy writing style keeps the story going forward through an amazing number of funny scenes. There are a good number of characters, including the four legged variety, and all of them are well drawn, central to the plot and romance, and often hilarious. I don’t remember ever being so supportive of characters taking forever to get together, but the author made me happy to wait because it provided more laugh out loud moments.
Michele R. - This enemies to friends to lovers romantic comedy by Lori G. Matthews was simply spectacular. The writing flowed effortlessly along with laugh out loud comedy, flirting, and bickering between the two women. Definitely a 5 star book.
Nutmeg - It has often been said that the second book is the hardest to write and for that, I would say Lori G. Matthews made this an absolute winner. The entertainment value alone made I Dare You To Love Me a solid 5 stars in my opinion. …The enemies to lovers trope never gets old and when you also throw a fiancé and a meddling bunch of (matchmaking) friends into the mix; there’s drama, sharp and witty verbal sparring, sneaky subconsciousness, sex dreams, plenty of crazy and hilarious scenarios and several wacko pets. And that’s not all, between the humour there’s tenderness too.
Patricia B. - This was a really good romantic comedy. This story had me laughing from beginning to the end, at one point I had to stop reading because I laughed so much. But I could not stop reading for long. The relationship between Danielle and Kara was a slow burn enemies to lovers relationship. I loved the addition of the animals to the plot. This made the book even more enjoyable. The supporting characters were well written and helped make this an even more interesting read. This was my first time reading this author, but it won't be my last. I would definitely recommend this book to my friends and family, and I look forward to what's coming next from this author.
Natalie T. - …Highly recommend if you're looking for a sapphic romance that will also make you LOL.
Lindsey C. - A resounding 5 stars from me!! I am pretty critical of romance novels but this one checked all of the boxes! Sapphic and witty with great chemistry between Dani and Kara!
Kelly H. - …Absolutely perfect, characters you can’t help but love, a fast-paced and flawless rom-com. Dani and Kara have great chemistry, they have this love-hate relationship, which totally works. I cannot recommend enough, plus—sapphics, puppies and kittens! What’s not to love.
A growl. A hiss. A swat.
The house on Edgehill Street near downtown Seattle had been quiet, but now the dog and cat moved around the room like gladiators, poking and prodding, each looking for a weakness in the other. When the orange, long-haired tabby jumped to higher ground, the golden retriever grew frustrated and grabbed a pillow from the chair, shaking it back and forth. When that wasn’t good enough, he placed both of his paws on it and ripped at the fabric with his mouth. And continued ripping until stuffing floated around the room like snowflakes.
“Oh my God.” Danielle Clark shot up from her seat at the dining room table and made a grab for what was left of the pillow. “No, no. Let me have it.” After a minute of scuffling around the room with their new addition to the family, Dani held up tattered remnants of the pillow to Jinx the cat. “Well. Another one bites the dust. That’s two in the last three hours. How can something so cute be so…destructive?”
Jinx appeared equally flummoxed and did what any self-respecting cat would do when faced with such an existential question. He licked his butt.
Dani collapsed back into the chair. I’m so not ready for a dog. With a deep breath to calm her fraying nerves, she continued typing patient notes into her laptop.
Will had brought the dog home last night. Someone at his office had rescued it from the Seattle Animal Shelter but couldn’t keep it. After a lively discussion on whether they should adopt the dog, and against her better judgment, Dani had relented.
Jinx took a flying leap onto the dining room table and stretched out, willing to supervise Dani now that his annoying adversary was digging at some imaginary spot on the carpet. From time to time, his meaty kitty paw would punch the keyboard and a series of letters would scroll across the screen.
“I don’t think Mrs. Duncan will agree with your diagnosis.”
He gave a soft mewl and rolled onto his back, placing both paws on the screen.
Dani scratched him under the chin. “Don’t you have someplace to be? Aren’t there birds to stalk?”
She squeezed her eyes shut as loud barking echoed around the room. The dog had grown bored with the carpet and was now busy chasing Jinx’s twitching tail that dangled from the table.
With teeth bared, Jinx voiced his displeasure.
The family fun was interrupted by the buzz of Dani’s phone. It was her bestie. “Hey, Zoe.”
“Jesus Christ, turn your TV down. What are you watching, 101 Dalmatians?”
“That’s not the TV. It’s our dog.”
“A dog? When did you get a dog?”
Dani sighed. “Last night. Will brought him home.”
“What’s his name?”
“We haven’t decided. Will’s trying to come up with the perfect name.”
“You don’t sound happy.”
Dani rubbed her temples. “I have no idea how we’re gonna take care of a dog with our schedules.”
“Tell him it’s you or the dog.”
In jest, Dani said, “He’d probably choose the dog.”
Dani frowned, regretting her quip because Zoey had never approved of the match. It was a battle they waged every so often, Zoey begging Dani to wait for true love to sweep her off her feet, and Dani defending her decisions. “We’re engaged, maybe you should accept it.”
“You’ve been engaged for three years.”
“It’s hard to find time to have a wedding.”
“Or…you don’t want to marry him. Maybe you know deep down that you’re settling. You’re only thirty-three, you’ve—”
Dani groaned. “I’m not settling. Listen. Not everyone can have what you and Jen have. You two are lucky.” Already on edge with the cat and dog fiasco, she tried to rush Zoey off the phone. “I gotta go, I’ll see you later.”
“Wait! Come to the bar with us tonight. Jen, tell her to come with us.”
Jen’s perky voice pleaded through the phone. “C’mon, Dani. You need a night with the girls.”
“I’m swamped with paperwork.”
“It’s Saturday night,” Zoey said. “Maybe you’ll meet Miss Right.”
Dani rolled her eyes. “Will you stop.”
Dani’s shoulders sagged with relief, because today she’d won the battle.
“…how about I find Miss Right for you?”
So much for winning. “Hello? Ring on my finger.” She absently raised her hand and quickly put it back down. The ring was not where it should be. It was still on the shelf in the bathroom.
“Leave her alone,” Jen said in the background. “Dani, ignore her. Just come out and have a drink with us.”
Zoey refused to get down from her soapbox. “You know I’m a master matchmaker. I did introduce you to Suzanne in college.”
The mention of her college sweetheart caused a twitch of pain near her heart. It was one of those regrets you learned to live with. One of those decisions you wished you could go back and change.
The dog’s growl disrupted any further thoughts. Something had piqued his interest. His hind end was in the air and his head was under the couch. “I gotta go.” She disconnected the call while Zoey was in midsentence.
Dani hustled over to see what had him so enthralled. It was her hospital badge. Shit. How did it get under there? Grabbing it, she wiped off the slobber and tucked it into her briefcase, which she then placed on top of the oak china cabinet. With a glance down at the dog and back to the bag, she calculated his jump radius. It should be out of reach. Hopefully. Dogs couldn’t jump as high as cats, right?
Jinx continued to hiss from his perch on the table. “I know, Jinxy. Blame your daddy.”
Dani plopped onto the couch, sinking into the soft leather cushions. She pushed a wayward strand of hair from her face. It was too short to stay in a ponytail, but long enough to fall into her eyes. A haircut was in order, but who had time for that?
She jammed a fist into her lower back and rubbed at the knot above her hip bone. Fourteen-hour days were the norm, however this past week she’d worked three eighteen-hour shifts. But it was worth it. The lower back aches. The limited sleep. All of it. Her surgical residency would be over in a year, and she would have her pick of jobs at UWMC or any other hospital in the city.
Her phone vibrated again with a text from Will.
Sorry babe will be late tonight. Don’t wait up. Love you!
Good. Maybe she could get all these notes done tonight. But as soon as she opened the next file, Zoey’s voice rattled around her brain and her fingers hovered over the laptop. Am I settling? Was there something more out there? Or someone?
Stop it. Will was great. He was kind, and caring, and fun. They’d known each other for years, came from similar backgrounds, and both wanted to be doctors. What more could she ask for? They were perfect together.
A tinge of doubt nibbled at her psyche.
Dani was afraid to answer.
* * *
Kara Britton leaned against the bar. She loved to people-watch here. She also loved the divey feel of The Rose, with its five-dollar microbrews, Taco Tuesdays, and themed dance parties. It was a welcoming space that packed them in on a Saturday night.
Her friend Val Pisecki finished her beer and pushed the empty bottle away. “I’ll get the next round.” She waved a twenty-dollar bill at the bartender and ordered a couple of local IPAs.
Someone tapped Kara on the shoulder, and she spun around.
“Are you Kara Britton?” a petite woman asked.
Kara didn’t recognize her. “Yeah?”
“I’m Jen Rowe.”
Kara bit her bottom lip and searched through her memory banks for a woman with warm brown eyes and a blond, curly, pixie haircut, but she drew a blank.
“We went to high school together. I was a couple years behind you. We both played basketball…”
“Oh, Jen, yes, now I remember. I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you. How are you?”
“I’m good. How about you?”
Another woman stood close by and nudged Jen’s shoulder.
“Oh. This is my girlfriend, Zoey. Zoe, this is Kara,” Jen said. “She was the star of the team back in the day. She made ‘The Shot.’” Jen used air quotes. “Her buzzer-beater won us the state championship that year.”
Zoey, a couple of inches taller than Jen, had a mod messy ’do and crooked smile. With great fanfare, she extended a hand. “Howdy!”
Kara liked her instantly. “Nice to meet you, Zoey. This is my friend Val.”
“So do you play professional basketball now?” Jen asked.
Kara grinned at the question. It wasn’t the first time she’d heard it. Usually when she ran into old high school buddies, it was the first thing they asked. Most people assumed that being good on one’s high school team automatically translated into a pro basketball career. “No. I don’t play professionally.”
“Why not? You were so good. I heard you got a free ride to the University of Oregon.”
“I did get a scholarship. But I tore my knee up senior year and missed the entire season.”
“Oh damn, that must’ve sucked.”
Kara briefly flashed back to that moment in time, the late nights in the gym, the countless hours of physical therapy. Pushing through the pain to try and get back to the team before the end of the season, only to come up short and then questioning if it had all been worth it. “It sucked when it happened. But after rehabbing…” She shrugged. “I found out I didn’t love it anymore. To play pro, you gotta love it.”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“It turned out okay. I may not be on the Seattle Storm, but I got my business degree.”
Val patted her on the back. “And now she owns her own business, Emily’s Tails for Trails Pet Resort!” She raised her glass. “The best dog kennel and day care in the city.”
Kara gave them a wry smile. “Val’s my second-in-command, so her opinion is a bit biased.”
“Who’s Emily?” Zoey asked.
“My mom,” Kara replied. “She passed away eight years ago. When I bought the kennel, I named it after her.”
“Oh, damn, sorry about your mom,” Zoey said.
A waitress arrived to let Kara know their table was ready.
“Why don’t you guys join us?” Val asked.
They sat down and ordered some appetizers.
“Explain to me the day care thing because we have two monsters at home,” Zoey said. “I told Jen we could get one, but she insisted on two.”
“They were brothers,” Jen explained. “I couldn’t separate them.”
“Well, now it’s double the work and double the shit in the backyard. And there’s no room on the couch or the bed.”
“They’re not that bad,” Jen said.
Zoey’s eyes widened and her lip curled up at the corner. “Not that bad? Roscoe literally kicked me out of bed the other night. I was barely hanging on as it was, and he stretched and I ended up on the floor. Here, look.” She rolled up her sleeve, revealing a nasty bruise near her elbow.
“Ouch,” Kara said.
“And what about last night? The two of them decided to run a track meet from the den to the front door. For half an hour.”
After a pause, Jen asked, “How does day care work?”
“You can either drop them off or we come and get them,” Kara said.
Zoey gasped. “You actually come and pick them up?”
“And then what?” Zoey asked. “You bring them back? Or do you keep them? You can keep them.”
Jen playfully punched her. “Hey.”
“Ow.” Zoey continued, “I know, you pick them up and keep them, and bring back, like a cat, or a kitten.”
Jen giggled. “Stop it. You’ll have to forgive her; she’s a cat person.”
Kara made a show of rolling her eyes. “Ah. A cat person! Say no more. Why don’t we do this? I’ll pick your dogs up Monday, and you can see if you like it.”
“Done!” Zoey said.
The group ordered another round of drinks. “What do you guys do?” Val asked.
“I work at Amazon,” Zoey said. “Been writing code since I was in diapers.”
“And I work as a nanny for this couple over on Mercer Island,” Jen said. “Pays good until I figure some things out.”
“How old are the kids?” Kara asked.
“Five, two, and three months.”
“Wow, they’re young.”
“Yeah, don’t be surprised if she orders you a juice box from the bar,” Zoey said. “Sometimes she forgets she’s with adults.”
“I do not.”
“Yeah, you do. Last night you told me it was beddie-bye time and to put my jam-jams on. You’re losing your adult vocabulary.”
“I am not!”
Kara smiled at their banter. They sounded like an old married couple. “How long have you guys been together?”
“Five years,” Jen said.
“That’s great.” Kara felt a pang of loneliness. Will I have that someday?
“What about you two? Are you together?” Jen asked.
Kara shook her head. “No, just friends. Val has a girlfriend.”
Zoey pointed at Kara. “Not you?”
“Nope. Single right now.”
“Who can we set her up with?” Jen tapped a finger to her chin.
Kara held up a hand. “I don’t need to be set up. I’m on a self-imposed hiatus from women right now.”
“Why?” Zoey asked.
“Let’s just say, my last breakup was a little messy. I need a breather.”
“How long ago was that?” Zoey asked.
Kara did the math in her head. “About seven or eight months.”
“You need to get back on the wagon. I know a redhead I can set you up with,” Zoey said.
Jen’s eyes narrowed. “Stop it.”
Zoey waved a hand dismissively. “She’s five foot six, shoulder-length hair, and blue eyes. She’s a doctor and—”
“Zoey…” Jen warned. “Kara, ignore her please.” Jen rested her chin in her hand.
“There’s gotta be someone we know.”
Kara groaned. “Seriously ladies, I’m fine being single right now. If that changes, I’ll let you know.”