Take Me On (Pushing The Limits #4) by Katie McGarry

Book Title: Take Me On (Pushing The Limits #4)
Author: Katie McGarry
Publish Date: May 27th, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: Book 4 in Pushing The Limits series
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.

Disclaimer: This is a library book.

Holy moly, I adored this book. I didn’t have a great impression of West in Crash Into You, but that all changed in Take Me On. Not only did my opinion of him vastly improve, the female main character was a total badass. She wasn’t a doormat like I felt Rachel was in Crash Into You. As a matter of fact, she was the complete opposite of Rachel.

Haley is doing everything she can to keep her family safe. Even while they are all crowded into her uncle’s house. Even when her uncle demeans her. Haley’s home life basically broke my heart into a thousand tiny pieces. I wanted to hug her pretty quickly into the book. She had dreams for herself, though those dreams had taken a serious hit. Especially once her entire family had to move in with her uncle.

And then there’s Matt. Her ex boyfriend. The one who hit her. It takes Haley a long time to admit to anyone that Matt had hit her. He also wants her back and he’ll do anything to make that happen. Because in Matt’s eyes, Haley is his. Only his.

West has other ideas though. After learning of Haley’s kickboxing past, he knows she can take care of herself. He knows she doesn’t need him to take care of her. Yet there’s something about her that attracts him. It’s not just the fact that she’s gorgeous. The fact that she doesn’t know who he is, is appealing to him. The fact that she doesn’t know his family history, which includes a loaded family, a dead sister and an almost dead sister.

They each give each other a sense of belonging. That’s important and it’s something not to be ignored.

West is also seeing things differently. Long held family secrets are coming to the forefront and he’s suddenly feeling like Haley is his soft spot to land on when things get difficult. He feels more like himself around her and less like an outsider like he feels when he’s around his family. West is startled to realize that Haley accepts him completely, and she doesn’t want him to change.

The aftermath of Rachel’s accident stays with West for the majority of the book and it’s not until halfway through the book, that he starts to realize that he needs to stop punishing himself. Not only that, but he also needs to ease up on Isaiah. He blames Isaiah for Rachel’s accident as well, but in a different capacity. It’s not until a late night chat with Rachel forces him to understand that Rachel loves Isaiah and that Isaiah loves Rachel.
After I was so disappointed with Crash Into You, I was so nervous about this one. I was afraid that I wouldn’t enjoy this one either. Boy was I wrong. I absolutely loved this one and it’s currently battling it out with Pushing The Limits for my favorite Katie McGarry book. 5 stars to this book  that held a strong female character and allowed us to see a softer side to West Young.

Review: Dare You To (Pushing The Limits #2) by Katie McGarry

Book Title: Dare You To (Pushing The Limits #2)
Author: Katie McGarry
Release Date: May 28th, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA/Contemporary
Series: Book 2 in Pushing The Limits series
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. “Dance with me, Beth.”

“No.” I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again….

“I dare you…”

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does….

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the 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 neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all.

Disclaimer: This was a personal purchase.

Yesterday I reviewed Pushing The Limits which is the first book in this series. Today I am reviewing the second one in the series. I had heard through the grapevine that this one wasn’t as good as Pushing The Limits and while I did have some issues with Ryan at the beginning, I have to say that I loved this one too.For different reasons of course. Pushing The Limits was about realizing that while you may be damaged, you are still worthy of love. Dare You To was about needing to live your own life, apart from what is expected of you.

Ryan is expected to play ball and date Gwen. That’s it.His father has put immense pressure on him to focus on baseball and date a “good girl” like Gwen. The pressure has gotten worse since Mark, Ryan’s older brother came out of the closet.Ryan’s family has all but abandoned Mark for something that he cannot control.

Then we have Beth. Hardcore Beth who we saw a bit of in Pushing The Limits. The Beth that a lot of us were convinced would end up with Isaiah. I think that was part of my initial issues with her and Ryan. I couldn’t get the idea of her and Isaiah out of my head.Beth’s had a hard life. She’s had to play the adult to her mother since she was pretty young.She feels like it’s her responsibility to do that because her mom didn’t leave her.

It takes just about the entire book for her to realize that she is not responsible for her mother’s behavior. Her mother chooses that life. Her mother would rather have a violent drug dealer as a boyfriend than get away and be safe with Beth. Watching Beth realize all of this was gut wrenching. Watching her lean on Ryan was amazing to watch. In the past, her self esteem was in the toilet. She never felt like she was good enough for anyone. Which is why, when rumor swirl around the school about her past, she goes back to believing that she’s not good enough. 

“I love how he can smooth away the roughness and make me feel like someone worth loving.” -Beth

At the end of the book there is a particularly heartbreaking scene that had me in tears, actually more like violent sobs. It wrecked me in the best possible way. It’s no secret that I like books that give me the feels and this book did that.

It took me awhile to warm up to Ryan but once I did, I really liked him. I also really liked that he called her by her name and NOT some stupid nickname. Beth remained my favorite character throughout this book.While I couldn’t relate to her, I could empathize with her. 

I wish we had seen more of Ryan’s brother Mark, but what we did see of him, I liked. I really liked how Beth worked to get Ryan and Mark on speaking terms again.

“Grow a pair of balls, that’s what I would have done. God, Ryan, you are an asshole.Your brother is gay and you toss him out of your life because you are too much of a pansy to stand up to your father.” -Beth

Ryan’s friends Chris, Lacy & Logan all seemed like a good crowd. They supported each other and they were always willing to help each other out. The dares that were part of the friendship took a backseat to true friendship which I loved.

This book was near perfect for me. I am giving it 4.5 stars. I am taking off a half a star mostly because it took me nearly half the book to warm up to Ryan. If you haven’t read this series yet, then you need to and soon.