Review: Dare to Stay by Jen McLaughlin

Posted August 2, 2016 in Review / 7 Comments

Review: Dare to Stay by Jen McLaughlin

Dare to Stay

Series: The Sons of Steel Row #2
by Jen McLaughlin
Published by Penguin, Signet on August 2nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: eARC

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

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Bruised and bloodied on Boston's mean streets, Chris O'Brien is reeling from the loss of his childhood best friend. But after barely escaping a hit placed on his head, Chris is desperate to live. A safe haven comes to mind - the home of the perfect girl from his childhood, Molly Lachlan. Before he has fully considered what it would mean to involve her in his mess, he finds himself on her doorstep.

When Molly agrees to let Chris inside her home, she realizes she's also letting him into her life. Danger and desperation are coming off him like steam, and yet she can't bring herself to turn him away. His bad boy charm always had a hold on her, but now there's a soulfulness and sorrow in him that she's never seen before. And despite the heart-stopping risk of helping him, she hopes against all reason that he'll stay...

Bad Boy


I just read and reviewed Sophie Jordan’s Hell Breaks Loose the other day and I can’t help but notice that I have another book on my hands here with a bad boy and his love interest in an impossible happily ever after situation.   But Jen McLaughlin’s Dare to Stay is different in that Chris, our bad boy, really eff’d up.  He IS a bad boy who is possibly on his way to redemption.

If you haven’t read the first book in The Sons of Steel Row series and you’re planning on reading it,


Go no further in my review.  Don’t worry, you’re okay.  You haven’t been spoiled by the synopsis for this book.  But the entire plot of this book is based on a major plot point in the first book.  You’ve been warned…

So, now that I’ve cleared everyone out, let me just tell you that I really, REALLY hated Chris in the last book.  And then to see that the next book in the series was his?  Unthinkable!!  How could Ms. McLaughlin keep me around as a fan?  How could she turn around this shit-storm of a mess that Chris has made and give the guy least deserving of a happily ever after a, well, a happy ending?

Well, Ms. McLaughlin sold me and she did it by actually sharing Chris’ backstory.   Those always do it for me.  But not only that, she gave more insight into Chris’ relationship with Lucas and his brother Scotty.  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Dare to Stay picks up right after the events of Dare to Run.  Chris is beaten, bloody, and dealing with a bullet wound in his shoulder.  He can’t go to his home because Bitter Hill, the rival gang, will be looking for him there.  He also can’t go to his parent’s home, for the very same reason.  It’s by sheer coincidence that he crosses path with (literally) the girl next door, Molly Lachlan.  She knows he and his family are part of the Steel Row gang, she just has no idea what life is like for Chris.  But she helps him when he needs it most.  It’s what her late father would have done.

So where Chris was battling immense guilt, Lily was battling her feelings towards Chris.  The chemistry is all there, but she knows he’s not a safe bet for her.  But when Lily learns EVERYTHING about Chris, what he’s done, and how he feels, Lily realizes she has a choice.  She already knows she accepts him, flaws and all.  But would she stay with him???  And he’s not exactly being easy to deal with, he doesn’t think he’s good for her.

Toss in a huge amount of gun play, action, double dealing / espionage, and you have another winner from Ms. McLaughlin.  Of course, I must have the next book in the series ASAP.  And looking at the synopsis, you really need to have read both of the previous books to understand the third book.  Nothing is better than recurring characters…  right after HEAs!

About Jen McLaughlin

Jen McLaughlin is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of sexy books with Penguin Random House. Under her pen name, Diane Alberts, she is also a USA TODAY bestselling author of Contemporary Romance with Entangled Publishing. Her first release as Jen McLaughlin, Out of Line, hit the New York Times, USA TODAY and Wall Street Journal lists. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists.

Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal-clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, and four cats. Her goal is to write so many well-crafted romance books that even a non-romance reader will know her name.





About Kristin

Kristin has to ensure she gets her minimal requirement of "happily ever after" books in between those books that contain cliffhangers and never-ending story arcs. It's for her family's sake. When not reading, she's homeshooling her 10-year old son, watching cartoons on TV, or taking a nap.

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7 responses to “Review: Dare to Stay by Jen McLaughlin

    • Woops! I should really pay attention to your review schedule on Sunday… I can’t wait to see him and Scotty pair up 🙂 Please don’t kill anyone, Jen!!!

  1. Yeah I was worried about this one being about Chris too because what he pulled in the first one was urrrrggggghhhhh-i-want-to-punch-him-in-the-nuts levels of despicable for me! But yeah, she did a really good job making his character understandable even though he was still really messed up. I did think his “I’m no good for her” routine got old real fast, but I loved that romance between the two!
    Nick recently posted…An Unexpected Story of Forgiveness, Friendship & Family: The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

    • I saw you said that… tee hee. Guys are so whiney when they’re sick or hurt, right???? Mine mopes so bad!!! He’s currently in mope mode b/c he can’t run, he hurt his leg. UGH!! I did want to smack this Chris a time or two 🙂 I wish I could smack my Cris a time or two but he says he’ll hit back (he would never!). 🙂

    • Well, besides the fact that I copy everything Kim does, this series is different than so much else out there. Definitely read the first one, though 😉

  2. Gah. Chris. I was so worried that I would struggle with liking him when I realized the second book was his. Turns out, I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Not only did I like him, I kinda fell head over heels for him. Yeah, he’d done bad things, but he was absolutely a product of his environment. Such a great book. I can’t wait for the third book either!
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