Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Take Me On by Katie McGarryHaley Williams was a championship kickboxer until one night changed everything. Since then, she refuses to fight or train in her grandfather’s gym, even though it upsets the rest of her family. However, when she meets West Young, things begin to change. He accepts a mixed martial arts fight with her ex-boyfriend in her honor, and she is forced to either train him or watch him lose. West begins to form a new life for himself, one in which he isn’t just a Young, and he regrets the day when Haley will find out who he really is and where he comes from.

I’ve been a huge fan of this series since the very first book, and three books later Katie McGarry does not fail to disappoint! Haley is great character–she is super tough and able to defeat guys twice her size, but unfortunately she loses her will to fight after a tragic event. She also deals with her horrible living situation in the best way she can and continues to suffer in silence so that she can put the rest of her family first. Her family had to move in with her uncle’s family after her father lost his job, and her uncle constantly demeans her and orders her around. Instead of complaining about her situation she tries to do whatever she can to find her own way to pay for college and works part time after school to help her family with money.

West’s life is completely different–his family is the richest family in town. He has his own car, a huge mansion, and his own credit cards, all paid for by his parents. When he gets kicked out of school and his parent’s home and is forced to enroll in the local public school and live in his car, he realizes how much he takes for granted. For the first time, he is responsible for himself and has to get a job in order to pay for his own food and gas. Once he meets Haley and realizes how resilient she is even when faced with the problems she deals with every day, he is worried that she will never see who he really is if she knows where he comes from, so he hides the fact that he is a member of the Young family.

West gets involved when Haley’s ex-boyfriend’s brother causes trouble for her one night, and because he steps in he is challenged to an official fight in the ring. West agrees, both because he wants to defend Haley and he wants to prove that he isn’t weak, but he doesn’t realize this isn’t just a regular fistfight. He will be fighting against a trained mixed martial arts fighter and is entirely unprepared. Haley agrees to train West so that he can stand a chance in the ring, and tries to keep herself from falling for another fighter.

I loved Haley and West’s story! They are both struggling in their own way and are able to help each other get through a really rough time. Haley is such a strong fighter yet she has to learn how to stay strong where her uncle and her family are concerned. She also has to learn to accept help from others. West has to learn that proving himself doesn’t necessarily mean proving himself physically, and he has to realize that getting his father’s approval may not be as important as he thought. I also loved how we get to see characters from previous stories in this book–there are appearances by West’s sister Rachel and her boyfriend Isaiah, and their friend Abby as well.

Overall, Take Me On was a great romance about two great characters. I loved this story and I’m hoping that the next one will be about Abby!

Take Me On will be released on May 27, 2014 and is the fourth book in the Pushing the Limits series.

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Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Crash Into You by Katie McGarryOn the outside, Rachel Young seems like the typical private school rich girl. But on the inside she hides a girl who loves cars more than makeup and racing more than shopping. Rachel keeps her real personality a secret from her parents and brothers, and lets the real Rachel run free when she sneaks out at night to drive her Mustang. When she gets in over her head with a street race, Isaiah Walker helps her out. He is exactly the type of boy her parents would never want her to be involved with–foster kid, tattooed, into street racing–yet she can’t seem to stop thinking about him. When their lives are threatened after  a street race and they are given six weeks to set things right, Isaiah and Rachel must work together to save each other.

I love these books!! It’s so great to be able to read a new story about a character we’ve seen in previous books, and I love how we still get to see what characters like Noah and Echo and Beth are up to. I felt so bad for Isaiah after what happened in Dare You To, and I was so excited to read his story.

Isaiah and Rachel are more similar than they initially think. They both present a certain image on the outside, but in reality they are very different on the inside. Isaiah presents the bad boy look so that other people won’t mess with him, but he is actually trying very hard to do well in school so that he can pass his automotive test and get a good job straight out of high school. Rachel forces herself to act the way her mother would want her to, but it hurts her to be unable to share her true self with her family. The two are able to be their true selves with each other, and they realize that they have more in common than just their love for cars.

I really liked Rachel because she was such an innocent young girl who was completely inexperienced in relationships, and it was fun to see how nervous and excited she became when she got involved with Isaiah. It was also interesting to see how transformed she became when she was behind the wheel of a car. She also has to deal with so many things in secret and it was horrible how sick it made her. Her family was extremely messed up, and didn’t even notice what was happening to Rachel right in front of them. Isaiah was able to give her a sense of freedom from her family, and he helped her realize that she is just as important as the rest of her family and she should not hide herself or do things she doesn’t want to do just to make other people happy.

Overall, Crash Into You was an exciting story with great new characters and a beautiful love story. My favorite new character was definitely Abby and I’m hoping that McGarry will write a story about her one day!

Crash Into You was released today, November 26, 2013 and is the third book in the Pushing the Limits series.

Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Dare You To by Katie McGarry“That must be love: when everything else in the world could implode and you wouldn’t care as long as you had that one person standing beside you.”

Beth Risk is constantly protecting her mother–an alcoholic whose boyfriend beats both her and Beth–because she is afraid that her mother would be sent to jail and Beth would be all alone. When her uncle comes back into her life and tells Beth that she can either come live with him or else he’ll send her mother to jail, Beth is left with no choice but to leave the only home she knows for a place where she doesn’t fit in. Ryan Stone is a popular jock who is the complete opposite of Beth, yet for some reason the two feel drawn together after a dare forces them to cross paths. Beth is hesitant to let Ryan into her life, and to allow herself to trust someone with her secrets.

I loved this book!! At first it kind of had a She’s All That vibe–popular guy’s friends dare him to ask out the loner girl who he then falls for–but the story is so much more than that. Ryan’s life seems perfect from the outside, but the reality is that his brother is no longer allowed to come home and his parents’ marriage is almost nonexistent anymore. His father is the type that pushes him into playing baseball all the time so that he can make it into the majors, but while Ryan loves to play, he also has another talent. Ryan is basically trapped in his life until Beth comes along and helps him to realize that he doesn’t have to live out the life his father dictates for him. What’s great is that Ryan has a really decent group of friends that take Beth in as one of their own.

Beth has a constant need to protect her mother, even though her mother treats her horribly and falls right back into her bad habits. She goes to live with her uncle in his gorgeous new house and gets to go to a good school but she still wants to run away to save her mother. I admired her loyalty to her mother but at the same time I was really angry because a girl her age should not have to take care of her mother the way she did. When Beth meets Ryan she doesn’t believe that he could ever really care about a girl like her who comes from a broken home. It takes a lot for her to finally trust him, and I loved seeing how her walls finally started to come down.

What’s great about this book also is that we still get to see flashes of Noah and Echo from Pushing the Limits. It was great to see what they have been up to and how their lives have changed.

Overall, Dare You To was a great love story that had a lot of depth to the characters. It is not simply a sappy romance but rather a story of two teens with real issues who learn to overcome those issues together. I think this book is my favorite of the series.

Dare You To was released on May 28, 2013 and is the second book in the Pushing the Limits series. The third book, Crash Into You will be released on November 26, 2013.