Book Review: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Crash Into You

Title: Crash Into You (Pushing the Limits #3)
Author: Katie McGarry 
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: December 2013
Pages: 464
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers…and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich gira stl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.

My Review:

NOTE: Whilst this book is part of a series it can also be enjoyed as a standalone.

Isaiah and Rachel couldn’t be more different. He’s struggling to make rent in a budget apartment and is facing getting sent back to his foster parents. She’s the perfect daughter of wealthy parents and wants to please everyone. He’s rough around the edges, covered in tattoos and isn’t unfamiliar with the darker side of life. She feels the need to please everyone even when it’s hazardous to her own health. But they both share a love of cars. When they meet by chance at an illegal street race, they feel a spark. They put aside their preconceived notions of the other get to know each other on a deeper level. But real life gets in the way and tries to tear them apart just as they’re falling in love.

I have to admit – I was annoyed at Katie McGarry. After reading Pushing the Limits, I wanted Isaiah and Beth to be together. Then I read Dare You Too and I started to think maybe the author knew better than I did what was best for her characters… Now, after reading Isaiah and Rachel’s story – I know I was wrong. I adored this novel. From the start I could see that these two brought out the best in each other.

Rachel is fragile. But she surprised me by being tough as nails on the inside. She doesn’t like conflict and does whatever she can to avoid it. She’s living her life in her sister’s shadow and whilst they may not mean to – her parents never let her forget it. But she’s more than the society princess. She’s passionate about cars – and her love of mechanics is heartfelt and believable. Isaiah on the other hand is damaged. Life hasn’t been kind to him and he doesn’t think enough of himself to get him out of the hole that he’s in. Noah, his best friend and the main character from Pushing the Limits, tries to do what he can but he’s got his hands full with college, Echo and his brothers. It’s an interesting time for Isaiah – because as well as Rachel coming into his life he gets a case worker who wants more than just to wash her hands of him.

There’s a lot of excitement in this book – illegal street racing, money hungry bookies and a romance that is absolutely beautiful. I thought McGarry did a brilliant job of melding the different worlds her characters live in whilst at the same time being believable. There are some surprises in this book with some amazing new characters being introduced and some old favourites from the series reappearing. I thought it was great that characters like Beth are still prickly and (dare I say) a little bitchy despite having her happy ending – it felt authentic that she’s the same girl despite the changes her life has been through.

I’m looking forward to the fourth book in this series. I love the characters and can’t wait to see what Katie McGarry come up with next!


Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Title: Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2)
Author: Katie McGarry
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction 
Publisher: Harlequin Teen 
Publication Date: June 2013
Pages: 479
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail. And who knows where they’d send seventeen-year-old Beth. So she protects her mum at all costs — until the day her uncle swoops in, and Beth finds herself starting over at a school where no one understands her. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her…but does.

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular jock with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him! But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction.

Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image is risking everything for the girl he loves. And the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all…

My Review:

This is one of those books that I’ve been anticipating for a very long time. After having loved Pushing the Limits, I was anxious to see just what happened next to Beth Risk. And – like many others – I was wondering just how Katie McGarry was going to satisfy me with a pairing that wasn’t Beth and Isaiah. But I was both thrilled and surprised. Beth is damaged. A mysterious childhood trauma and a home life that is anything but perfect, Beth knows just how dark life can be. Ryan Stone is her polar opposite. The good boy with an immaculate home, supportive parents and the whole town on his side. Beth’s been involved with drugs and has a reputation that precedes her whereas Ryan couldn’t be more committed to baseball and wouldn’t do anything to damage the pristine reputation his parents strive for.

But both of them are so much more than what they seem. Ryan has the sensitive soul of a writer and Beth would do anything for those she loves. Katie McGarry exceeded my expectations and delivered a story that was beautiful and so much more than I ever could have expected – having read Dare You To it’s now clear to me that Beth and Isaiah would never have worked (and I’m envisaging fantastic things for the next book, Crash Into Me which features Isaiah in a main role!).

All of the characters – main and secondary – are three-dimensional with problems and issues of their own. They’re well-developed and draw you into their world. I loved how the point of view switched chapter by chapter between Beth and Ryan. I felt like I knew what was life for each character as well as being able to see their thoughts and feelings about the other and the other characters from each perspective. The supporting cast were brilliant in their own ways with Chris and Logan being stand-outs for me. I found Ryan to be a little insipid but in his own way he was perfect for Beth.

There’s a lot that happens in this book and I loved the journey I was taken on. The contrasts between the rural and inner city, the suburban folk and the down-trodden city slickers were fantastically crafted.  The romance felt real and the issues that the characters face were handled beautifully by the author.

I recommend this for all fans of Pushing the Limits but can also be read as a stand alone for anyone who loves a story about love – even when things seem absolutely dire – overcoming all obstacles.

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Book Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Title: Pushing the Limits
Author: Katie McGarry
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction 
Publisher: Harlequin Teen 
Publication Date: August 2012 
Pages: 384
Rating: 4.stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

My Review:

It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago Echo Emerson was part of the popular crowd. She had the perfect boyfriend, the perfect set of friends and the perfect older brother who looked out for her no matter what. These days Echo eats lunch alone and spends a large chunk of her days in the schools social worker’s office. With long sleeved shirts, she hides her arms from the world and the painting that was once her passion is now part of the past she would rather have left behind. All she wants is to graduate and leave the memories behind.

Noah Hutchins is the local bad boy – a reputation that he deserves. Known for entertaining females in the back of his car, getting high with his mates and sporting tattoos on his biceps, Noah also has secrets in his past. After his parents died in a fire a few years ago, Noah has been in many foster families and seen the worst the system has to offer. All he wants is to graduate and get custody of his two little brothers before the system abuses them like it did him.

She’s upper middle class and he’s definitely from the wrong side of the tracks. But after the new school social worker puts them together as tutor and underachiever -sparks fly. Neither is thinking of romance and considering their social groups would never approve of such a union, a relationship between Echo and Noah seems inconceivable. But as the school year goes on and both the teens’ histories coming back to haunt them, they grow closer and realize that maybe, despite their backgrounds, they have more in common than either of them ever would have guessed.

I did like how the relationship between Noah and Echo grew over the course of the novel. Both are hesitant to form any kind of lasting or intense connection but as they both evolve as characters so too does their relationship. I liked them together. Even with Noah using my most hated term of endearment (baby… eww!) and despite the fact that at times I felt like he was more in love with the concept of Echo than he was in love with Echo the person. I also had a few issues with Echo being so completely in love with Noah so quickly – it seemed a little fast considering how closed off she was at the beginning to not only loving Noah but to being IN love with Noah. At the start they didn’t like each other. She thought he was a jerk and he thought she was a snob with a rockin’ body… With only a few encounters – and both of the characters having such significant personal issues – they’re at the stage where Noah gets in a fist fight with Echo’s (ex)boyfriend over her at the Valentine’s Day dance which would only be six weeks or so after they are first properly introduced.

I did like Beth, Isaiah, Lila and the rest of the secondary characters. These characters are ones that I could relate to. High school is tough for a lot of people and I felt like McGarry touched on a lot of the reasons why I personally found it tough. The rumours, the faux friends (like Grace) and the importance of appearance over everything else.

There were a few plot points that I did find a little confusing. Why did no one – not even Echo’s best friend – realize that Echo may have problems watching a war film considering her brother was killed by an IED? Why did the seemingly over controlling Mr Emerson let an unsupervised teenage boy into Echo’s bedroom? Was Mrs Collins (the new clinical social worker) part fairy-godmother? These aren’t exactly things that contribute all that much towards the overall plot but they did nag at the back of my mind for a significant part of the time I spent reading the book.

I did enjoy reading this book. It’s fairly fast paced and has characters that I loved reading about – I was really wanting Noah and Echo to have their happily ever after. It’s a sweet novel despite the swearing, drug use, sex and violence where for Noah and Echo there is such thing as a happy ending and nothing from their pasts is too bad to rise above.

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