Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Take This One On!

As if you needed one more excuse to sit on the couch all day and read? Well, Katie McGarry does it again in Take Me On, the fourth book in the Pushing the Limits series of companion novels. And you won't be able to say no to West and Haley, mark my words!

Haley was a champion kickboxer, until everything went wrong. She also had a fairly normal life until her father lost his job, they lost their house, and the whole family had to move in with her short-tempered uncle. For Haley, there is no such thing as normal anymore. When she quit her grandfather's gym and started training at the competitor gym, she alienated her entire family on top of that- all for some guy who ended up ruining her entire love for the sport anyway. Now all she can do is pray she can somehow eke out a scholarship to get the hell out of that house.

West is an over-privileged brat, and he knows it. Unfortunately, he is also headstrong, defiant, and always looking for a fight as well. When his impulsive actions send his sister into life-changing danger, he doesn't need anyone to beat him up for it. He is already beating himself up enough. When his father finally kicks him out of the house, no one expected what would come next. West decides to make it on his own. From living in his car while it still has a little gas, to going to the local public school, to finding a job so he can eat, everything changes. But not as much as it changed the moment he met Haley.

When he stops a couple of thugs from hurting her, he didn't realize it would change his life forever. The fight he got into might have been the catalyst for getting kicked out of his house, but it also brought him to Haley. Thinking he was the knight in shining armor, it was like the world had been turned inside out to wake up and realize someone else had done the damage to the other two guys- Haley. Now those guys want to make him pay in the only way they know how- a fight. Challenged to a no-holds-barred fight, Haley must now train West in the hopes he won't get killed in the cage. The problem is, her grandfather owns the gym, and fighting is the last thing Haley ever planned on doing. But she will, to make sure West stays alive!

OK. If you read my reviews, you know I LOVE Katie McGarry. Seriously? I would read ANYTHING this woman wrote. She knows how to write contemporary with a background of romance but a bulk of character and a winning plot like so few authors can today. She belongs in the same crowd as Dessen and Perkins with these books because I a) know I am going to love them and b) am always surprised by what is happening even though I know I am going to love them! She does it to me. Every. Time. So I walked into this story knowing it was going to be fabulous, but clearly curious about how it was going to stack up to Isaiah's story, which I loved unconditionally. Well, West wasn't Isaiah, but I loved him all the same. And Haley? There are no words!

Haley almost reminded me of Eleanor from Eleanor and Park. I loved her for that. She had a clear set of baggage she dragged around with her, and it took you almost the whole book to find out the true depth of those issues. I didn't pity her, but I did struggle with seeing her try to put on a strong, brave face in the midst of everything around her. You just wanted to protect her, but you knew she had to learn to fight back on her own. 

I also loved a few more important themes I found repeating in this series:

1. Romance doesn't need wishy washy woman. I like a romance with a sassy lead, and McGarry always delivers!

2. I love the guidance counselor. So often they are the butt of jokes, but I have known some great counselors, and McGarry always seems to put her in there. She helped Noah and Echo and never stopped! 

3. Boys need love too. None of those stone cold boys in McGarry books. They can be strong and manly and still have deep emotions. I love it! 

4. Girls. Kick. Butt. Cars? Kickboxing? You name it, McGarry's girls do it. I love this gender stereotype busting. It is fantastic and doesn't fail to give new perspective to young woman. 

5. People make mistakes. But you have to forgive and move on. 

So give West and Haley a piece of your heart. And, Ms. McGarry, if I don't get an Abby story soon? There is going to be a kind and praising email that also begs, bribes, and pleads for one! So save us all the time and pitiable begging, and just give Abby a book.... PLEASE?!

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