Monday, 16 June 2014

Review: Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Published by: Harlequin Teen
Release date: 6th June 2014
Series: Pushing the Limits #4

I got it from: NetGalley
Goodreads summary:

Acclaimed author Katie McGarry returns with the knockout new story of two high school seniors who are about to learn what winning really means.

Champion kickboxer Haley swore she'd never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can't stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she'd stay away from. Yet he won't last five seconds in the ring without her help.

West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her-fighting for her-is a shot at redemption. Especially since it's his fault his family is falling apart. He can't change the past, but maybe he can change Haley's future.

Hayley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they'll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for.

My review:
Just when you think she must have reached her peak, Ms McGarry goes and does it again, showing us that she still has much more up her sleeve to offer. 

Pushing the Limits is the very best type of series. Each book could, theoretically, be read as a standalone - each is a self-contained tale of two people. In a way. But with McGarry it's all about the peripheral characters, and that's where you need to get intimate with the series as a whole. Sure, you could just read about West Young, the poor rich boy with attitude, but unless you've read Crash Into You, you really won't appreciate all the references to West's sister Rachel. And you can't get the most out of Crash Into You without having first read Dare You To. And so on. With each book in the series, McGarry adds a little more to her world, creating a complex ensemble cast that make the series as a whole worth much more than the sum of its parts. 

It's not just about the different couples either. With each book, McGarry gifts us with a little insight into a different kind of life. Crash Into You was a crash course in drag racing, and Take Me On is a slice of the world of cage fighters. Now I'm not into fighting, either inside or outside the arena. Violence does not appeal. However. McGarry is very good at her job, very good indeed, and so I found myself completely sucked in by her little band of fighters. The intense loyalty these guys (and girl!) feel for their family, their strength and tenacity, the way they deal with their harsh life and still come out as deep-down good people, it's hard not to love them. 

Hayley is an interesting character, hard to get close to as she lives inside her own head a lot of the time and won't let anyone else in, but McGarry draws her out bit by bit, and is rewarded with an amazing MC. This kick-boxing girl, who's been through hell and is still finding her way out of it, she's a strong one, but she doesn't realise just how strong. She doesn't get at first that accepting help isn't necessarily a sign of weakness. She's made mistakes, and she thinks she needs to fix everything all by herself. But then West Young crashes into her life. 

I was surprised but very happy to discover that Rachel's troublesome brother was going to be the focus of this book. Suspended from school for fighting and being caught with girls too many times to count, West is your typical off-the-rails rich boy lashing out at the world. He parties too hard, doesn't study enough, picks fights and gets away with it because of who his family is. But when he takes it a step too far he has to face up to some harsh realities. A chance encounter with a kick-ass beauty and a thrashing later, he's in way deep. Hayley tries to keep him away from the mess that is her life, but the boy has pride, and he won't step away. 

Hayley plus West equals hot. West is more than willing to get as close as possible, but Hayley has been burned before and tries her best to keep him at arms length. Sweet gestures and constant but gentle wooing is a hard combination to fight though, especially when packaged in such an attractive form. So get ready for a steamy, addictive adventure with a lot of fight.