Only If You Dare
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Pages: 137
Goes Well With:
A cold glass of chardonnay, spring green salad, and fresh strawberries

Jonah and Cynthia meet by chance outside a courtroom in Margo Hoornstra’s Only If You Dare. But they were surely fated to meet sometime, somewhere, and their story makes a very enjoyable romantic read for a long lunch break.

Jonah’s a judge, and Cynthia cares for patients with PTSD. He oversees a wedding, and she’s surviving divorce. He’s seriously handsome. She’s beautiful. Oh, and he’s been deployed—but he’d rather keep that part of his life safely hidden away. When Jonah and Cynthia meet a second time, they’re both primed for a one-night stand with no commitments and no permanence, and it feels right. Not that either of them would ever dream of a one-night stand in general, but fate and love have taken a leading hand.

Author Margo Hoornstra’s writing entices readers without long, detailed explanation. Bedroom scenes have a lingering authenticity and heart-warming intimacy, with well-chosen, honest details and great timing as the camera cuts away. Her characters, pleasing from the start because they’re old enough to have real lives behind them, are enjoyably human without being overly introspective. They make mistakes. They jump to conclusions. They break up and can’t resist coming back together. Meanwhile, this reader couldn’t resist turning pages to see how things turn out.

Particularly pleasing, as you eat your salad and enjoy fresh strawberries, is the feeling that fate’s hand is always comfortable and never forced in this tale, even when coincidence plays a part. Love and concern have a genuine ring, stretched but not broken when secrets drive their iceberg wedge between the characters’ affections. And no knife and fork are needed to know that these two, no longer in the spring green of their lives, will surely settle down to a future of restaurant and freezer meals—and bedroom promise—together.

PTSD hits the news often enough to make us feel like we know what it means. But not every detail of pain has to be laid on the table and examined. Not every scar has to have its history. True love gives time to speak, time to wait, and time to dare, as in Margo Hoornstra’s enjoyable tale of modern love in a very modern world. Bring on the wine and strawberries.

Ed. Note: For more on Only If You Dare, visit

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