Truth or Dare by C SpencerTruth or Dare by C. Spencer is my kind of book! It has an ensemble cast of characters, drama, sweetness, humor, depth, romamtic fantasy, and realism. What more could I ask for from one book? It’s a work of general lesbian fiction with a strong leaning toward romance. It follows three couples at various stages of romantic relationships through a weekend blizzard, each of the six main characters snowed-in with her significant other and coming face-to-face with what she fears and loves the most.

Ella and Sam have been married for five years and have learned much about one another, but some questions don’t seem to have answers. But is that necessarily a bad thing?

Jessie and Hadley have been best friends since their teens, always there for one another through thick and thin. But does either know how the other really feels about her? And if they explore those feelings, will it strengthen what they have, or could they both lose the most important person in their lives?

And Brie and Ryan have to find their way through the most difficult question a couple can face: can a heart move on if it can’t let go of the past?

When the storm clears and everyone comes together to Celebrate Ella and Sam’s anniversary, is anything the same?

The Characters

I love the characters in this book. Each has her own strengths and weaknesses, and Spencer doesn’t leave the reader guessing or filling in colors like in paint by numbers art. Each character is deftly delineated, and what we need to know about each is shown clearly through action and introspection. In an ensemble story like this one, it could be easy for a couple of characters to be quite a bit alike or for one or two to end up less developed than the others. That isn’t the case here. Spencer clearly knows and has shared these women as she would introduce us to her best friends.

Because each is so well drawn, it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. Out of the mix, I think Ella and Hadley are perhaps the ones I’d be the closest friends with in real life—Ella for her strength in who she is, and Hadley for her courage to take a risk with her heart, once she makes up her mind. All of them, however, touched me in some way and taught me something.

The Writing Style

The writing style is intimate, leading to the close connection established between the reader and the characters. The story is written in first person, present tense, both of which draw the reader in. Left on its own in any other book, the use of first person point of view wouldn’t necessarily be unusual, but in this case, with it being used for each of the six characters, it helps us crawl inside them and feel, rather than simply be told or even shown, their deepest secrets. There is only one, a secondary character, whose point of view we’re never in, making the depth of connection with the others even more evident. And present tense puts us right there, experiencing each moment as it happens as opposed to hearing about it even a beat later. These two techniques used together create an intimate read.

With six different characters presenting in first person point of view, it could be easy for a reader to get confused and lose track of which character she’s actually with in any given moment, but Spencer handles that beautifully through the structure of the book. Each chapter belongs to one of the couples—with the exception of the first, which is Jessie’s alone—and is clearly labeled as such. Then within each chapter, the sections belonging to specific characters are marked as well. It creates an easy flow within each couple as well as from one couple to the next.

In these ways, I think the writing style adds as much to the depth and closeness of the characters and story as those two elements themselves. It was a brilliant choice for this type of story and very well executed.

The Pros

What I liked best about Truth or Dare and what makes it my kind of book is its exploration through story of the interconnectedness of life, the way in which our relationships, whether romantic, friendships, or even what we might consider acquaintances at first, link us with others and form a foundation on which we can walk through life. I love the reminder this book offers that we’re never alone. I was moved by the scene at the end when they all get together to celebrate Sam and Ella’s anniversary and the love and caring that’s shared between them all.

The Cons

I can’t think of one. I enjoyed this story thoroughly.

Jeannie's Favourite BooksThe Conclusion

Truth or Dare is a thoughtful, intimate, slice-of-life story that delves into relationships and the intertwining of lives. It’s a must read for those who enjoy unique and well-done character work and a multiple-character structure that allows for a more expansive look at our humanity. Because of its depth and many layers woven into this work, I know it’s one of those books that will offer something new with each read, so it’s a story I’ll revisit many times. Get it, and see for yourself.

Excerpt from Truth or Dare by C. Spencer

Her lips are wet again, like they were before. Like she just licked them. I have to suck in my guilt-ridden urge to kiss the wine that lingers on them. To gaze at them. Not only that, my mind’s drifting miles beyond that innocent kiss and it’s doing horribly wicked things to her on this floor. I could easily end this stare down, but that’s not exactly what my heart has in mind. I wonder if she might be thinking the same, and if she thinks it’s wrong, too.

“All that’s left—almost all,” she says, “is this ricotta.” And with that, the moment vanishes. It could be that she saved me from a big mistake. “Here,” she shows me. “Just spoon it into each.” But I’m less interested now in what I’m doing.

When she steps away, I sink into a pit of regret with a hundred pounds of disappointment strapped to my back. It’s for the best. I really shouldn’t be thinking these things.

I try to muster my initial enthusiasm, but I’m drained now. I beckon her back. “How much in each pepper? I mean, like this? Am I doing this right?”

She sets the bag of mozzarella on the counter, reaching around to show me how to scoop. “This is how.” And she slips her finger down the bowl of the spoon to push the filling off. When it’s my turn, she takes a sip of wine, peering up at me. Here come those nerves again. I watch as her gaze falls to my lips and lingers there.

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9781635551488
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

C. Spencer Online

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