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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 herfighting for heris 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.
Haley 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.
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A DOOR SQUEAKS OPEN at the far end of the barren hallway and the clicking of high heels echoes off the row of metal post-office boxes. I attempt to appear casual as I flip through the mail. All of it leftovers from our previous life: my brother's mixed martial arts magazine, an American Girl doll catalog for my sister, another seed and gardening catalog for my mother.
Collection notices for my father.
There are more demands for payment. I wonder if I should give them to Dad or hand them off to my mother or grandfather. Maybe I should save us all from the reminder and set them on fire. It's not like there won't be a fresh batch tomorrow.
I juggle a few pieces to keep all of it from falling onto the floor. Beyond the windows, the sky darkens into dusk. I inhale deeply to calm the nervous adrenaline flooding my veins. Too much to do, not enough time: the mail, the grocery list from my aunt, convince the grandfather who hates me to write me a letter of recommendation, dropping off and picking up my father's antianxiety medication. It's Friday night and I've got two hours to make my uncle's curfew or I'll be spending the night on the streets.
The woman with the noisy heels continues down the hallway and doesn't acknowledge my existence as she heads to the employee entrance. Unlike me, she's dressed in a thick winter coat. Her hair is the same light brown as mine, but my hair is longer. I imagine my cheeks are painted red, like hers, from the February wind.
This building is normal for her. Nothing about this is normal for me. My family and I, we no longer have a brick-and-mortar mailing address in Louisville. We no longer have a home.
I pause at the last letter in the stack, and not in an enlightening way. No, this is the same pause I had when my father announced he'd lost his job. The same pause I had the day the county sheriff taped the eviction notice on our front door. It's a thin white envelope. Its appearance wouldn't cause anyone else's heart to sink to their toes. For me, it does. It's from the University of Notre Dame, and it's obviously not an acceptance.
I slam the door of the mailbox shut. Today sucks.
Walking into my grandfather's gym, I feel a little drunk on hope and a little like I'm marching to the gallows. Getting the rejection from Notre Dame left an emptiness and the thought of scoring a letter of recommendation for a scholarship to anywhere is definitely a potent wine. Alcohol and an empty stomach shouldn't mix, but, at the moment, I'm feeling bold.
"My, oh my, the flies are drawing in the shit." From the inside of an octagon cage, my cousin Jax shouts at me. Beads of sweat blanket him from head to toe. He wears boxing gloves on his hands and protective gear on his head. I say nothing as I'm fresh out of comebacks.
A group of newer fighters warms up by jumping rope to the pissed-off voice of Dr. Dre booming from the speakers. Returning here, I feel younger than eighteen, older than six, and, for a few seconds, like I'm home.
The gym is a metal building, a step above a warehouse and several steps below those fancy chain gyms. Black punching bags hang from metal framework, and pictures of my grandfather's various award-winning fighters cover the wall. A sweet combination of bleach and a tropical plug-in overwhelms my senses.
In one corner, two guys go at it in a boxing ring, and in the other corner some guys, including Jax, watch a demonstration of a takedown in a caged-in octagon.
The rustling of nylon athletic pants gains my attention as my grandfather cocks a hip against the doorframe of his office. His name is John, and he requires us to call him that. As usual, he wears a white T-shirt with the black logo of his gym: Freedom Fighters. Like every guy here, John is toned and a fighting machine. Sixty-two years hasn't slowed him down. In fact, the death of my grandmother a couple of years ago has driven him harder.
"It's a bit chilly," he says. "But not cold enough for hell to have frozen over."
My chin lifts in response. "You said I was always welcome."
"Thought you said you'd rather drink poison then step in here again."
I did. And he has me exactly where he wants me, but I refuse to break eye contact. We stare at each other for what seems like a year. My grandfather has a weathered look: a firm face set in stone, crow's-feet stamped near his eyes and lines creating parentheses around his mouth. Occasionally, my grandfather smiles, but he hasn't shown me that feature since I left his gym a year ago.
"Is your uncle bothering you?" he asks.
My uncle. Jax's dad. My father's half brother. The guy whose house we've been living in since the bank repossessed our home and we moved out of the shelter. I'm sure a few terrorist organizations refer to him as The Dictator. The answer to John's question is yes, but I say, "No."
"Is it your mom?"
His daughter. "She's fine." Sort of.
"Is something wrong at school?"
Everything is wrong at school. "No."
"Haley," he says with an overabundance of exasperation. "I've got fighters to train. Whatever it is, spit it out."
I glance away and focus on the fighters warming up, unsure what to do. They stare at me as the ropes go over their heads, then under their feet. Snap. Snap. Snap. It's as if they jump in unison now. Some guys I know from school. Others I don't. My older brother, the one who's leading them, is the only one who looks away.
My grandfather sighs and pushes off the doorframe to head toward the fighters.
"I can't give him the collection notices again," I whisper in a rush. "I can't "
It's not what I meant to say. I meant to ask for a recommendation, but somehow the intention became a traitorous ninja. Now that the spillway of the dam's been opened, the words cascade like a long drop from a mountain.
"I don't know what to do. Mom constantly works and she's tired and she doesn't know how to handle Dad and when I bring the notices home " I hesitate. Not home. That hellhole is not a home. "To the house and" that low-life slimeball of an uncle "he sees them, then it gets worse and I can't do it, okay? Not today."
Not when I lost my dream. Not when everything inside me is so twisted it hurts to breathe. Not when I don't know if I'll ever get accepted to college or, if I do, whether I'll have a way to pay for it.
The stone expression slides off John's face and his dark eyes soften. Mom has his eyes. So do I. My grandmother loved our eyes. In two strides my grandfather reaches me and angles himself to hide me from the fighters. The moment I'm out of view, my shoulders sag and I close my eyes.
"It's okay," he says under his breath.
It's not. It's never going to be okay again. He places his hand on my arm, squeezes, and that one show of emotion, show of support, jostles the fragile foundation on which I stand. Tears form behind my closed lids. I shake my head, wishing he'd go back to being an asshole.
"Give them to me," he says. "I'll take care of it."
I swing the pack around and hand him the new notices. "What are you going to do with them?"
"Something." John barely has the money to keep his gym open. "Don't worry."
I tuck my hair behind my ear and rub the back of my neck. Jax has stopped watching the demonstration and leans against the cage with his gloved hands resting on the fence over his head. He whistles at my brother, Kaden, and nods his chin at me.
Jax isn't related to John, but after the first few years of family gatherings and witnessing how Jax's father treats him like garbage, John became Jax's surrogate grandfather. My grandfather does his best to counteract the evil that is Jax's father.
Now not only do I have my grandfather's full attention, but that of my cousin and brother. The fact that I'm here after a yearlong hiatussix months when I left to train with the competing gym, Black Fire, and the past six months spent protesting the sport of kickboxing altogetheris reason enough for Jax and Kaden to be nosy. The fact that my grandfather and I have spoken without ripping each other into dog food is enough for them to be dying of curiosity.
"Is there something else, Haley?" And the warm, fuzzy moment we shared vanishes.
I pull out the scholarship application I found this morning in the guidance counselor's office. It offers to pay for books for four years. It's not huge, but it's something, and sometimes in life you just need something, no matter how small it is.
"I thought you could help me with this."
He snatches the papers out of my hand quick enough to cause a paper cut on my finger. My breathing hitches with the sting, and a discontented sigh escapes his lips. How easily I forgot he has no room for weakness.
His eyes roam the page before settling on me. "I don't get it."
"It's a scholarship application."
"I can read."
Not big on repeating himself, he tilts his head with enough annoyance that I have to work on not shrinking.
"I have all the requirements." I was a student athlete who showed leadership potential, my GPA is high and I'll major in kinesiology if they grant me a scholarship. I'll major in dinosaur dentistry if someone will give me money. "I need a letter of recommendation from someone who knows what I'm capable of, and no one knows what I can do better than you."
Not true. My father was the complete expert when it came to me. He's the one who taught me how to fight. He's the reason I loved kickboxing, but a recommendation from a trainer of my grandfather's caliber is what's required. Not a letter from my father. Not a letter from someone who hasn't fought or trained in years.
"Did the trainer from Black Fire turn you away?"
Even though I knew it would be coming, the mention of my ex-boyfriend Matt's gym wrings me of energy like water from a sponge. "I won't go to them."
"So you're saying you need a recommendation for betraying your teammates? Your family? For being a quitter?"
I honestly flinch, because that dagger stabbed into my heart hurt like hell.
John flips through the paperwork. "Kinesiology. Study of human movement. A study for people interested in physical therapy or becoming trainers. A degree for sports people." John slams the papers back into my hand. "Not you."
He leaves. His back turned to me like I don't matter. No. This isn't how it's going down. An insane flash of anger propels me forward. "I hold a national title."
"Held." John weaves through the punching bags and I follow. Twice I have to jump out of the way of a bag kicked too hard.
"That's right," I say. "Held." A bag flies in front of me and I push it back.
"Out of the way!" the fighter behind it shouts.
"Screw you," I snap, and then I say to John, "That's a hell of a lot more than most of the people training here."
John rounds on me so fast I stumble into a bag. "The people in here are dedicated. They didn't walk away. They didn't forsake everything and everyone who loved them."
I try one more time through gritted teeth. "I need this."
"I only write letters for people who earn them. You want it, then get your ass in that locker room and start sweating on my floor. Or are you still a runner?"
His face is in mine and it's a testament to my stubbornness that I haven't broken into tears. A wave of nausea disorients me. John's not going to help me, and, to protect the two people I love the most in life, I can't work out in this gym again.
With all eyes on me, I pivot away from my grandfather and walk out the door.
I ASK WHY MORE THAN I SHOULD, some days I regret the decisions I make and most mornings I wake up on edge. The three don't often combine, but today I hit the shit tri-fecta.
Leaning against an aging telephone booth, I withdraw the envelope from my coat pocket and ignore the chill of the evening wind. The University of Louisville logo stands out in red across the top. I snagged the envelope yesterday before my parents figured out it had arrived. They've been stalking the mailbox, desperate for news that isn't bad.
My bruised and cut knuckles scream in protest as I unfold the paper. Each joint in my fingers pounds in time with the muscles in my jaw. A few hours ago, I got expelled from school for fighting.
Mom and Dad should know better than to expect good news from me. Mom holds on to hope. Dad, on the other hand
I'm not a rocket scientist and don't need to be to know thin letters aren't good. My head literally throbs reading the words. I silently swear and slouch farther against the glass. It's only February and the rest of spring is going to bring more rejections.
I crumple the paper and toss it into the ashtray sitting outside the doors of the Laundromat. The remains of a smoldering cigarette char the edges of the letter. Ironic. The rest of my life is also going up in smoke.
My cell rings and I snatch it out of my coat pocket. "Yeah."
"Your father said you haven't come to the hospital." It's Mom and my eyes narrow at the entrance of the shit-hole bar at the end of this decrepit strip mall. She steps out of the bar and onto the sidewalk, a black scarf hiding her blond hair. Huge designer sunglasses disguise her face, and she sports a tailored coat that costs more than every car parked in this dump.
Mom is highend, high-style and high-maintenance. And this landfill? I glance around the gray lot. Not a car made in this decade in sight. A Laundromat, a dollar store, a grocery store, a pharmacy with bars over the windows and, down toward the end, the bar.
She stands out here. I blend in better with my sagging jeans and hat on backward, which is good because she doesn't know I'm here. Mom's a petite thing, and I tower over her at my six feet. I inherited Mom's looks with the blond hair and blue eyes. If I need to, I can defend myself, but Mom has no business being here. Yet she shows once a month. Same damn time. Same damn day. Even with her youngest daughter, Rachel, in the hospital in intensive care.
"You're not staying with Rachel?" I ask. Mom has no idea I've been following her for the past ten months. I came to this hellhole last spring to buy pot from a potential new dealer, someone cheaper than the guys at my school. Private school equates to marked-up. "No," she answers.
Shocked doesn't describe the reaction I had when I saw my mother walking into the bar the first time. After that near encounter, I keep a tight watch on her. It's my job to protect my family. I failed with Rachel and don't plan on failing again.
"Your father arrived," Mom continues. "He told me to take a break and eat."
Take a break. Eat. Screw the guy she's been meeting.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Read on May 13, 2014 Book Info Kindle Edition, 304 pages Expected publication: June 1st 2014 by Harlequin Teen (first published May 27th 2014) original title Take Me On ASIN B00GKBIPFK edition language English series Pushing the Limits #4 other editions (6) Source:Netgalley EARC Book Buy Links Amazon B&N BOOK SYNOPSIS 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 Thoughts Proving once again that words carry power the author takes us on an emotional roller coaster ride with Haley and West that ends triumphantly! Picking up where Crash Into You> left off we find Rachel in ICU gravely injured, West feels so much guilt over his sisters accident that he falls deeper into the escape offered from alcohol, girls and smoking pot. Ultimately he ends up in Haley Williams neighborhood one night looking to score from his dealer and instead almost ends up running over Haley as she is trying to escape a confrontation. The two start off on rocky ground, the boy whose wealthy family has no idea who he is and the young woman whose family is floundering to try and stay together form a bond as they find over time they have much more in common regardless of their differences. The entire time I was reading this book when we spent time in Haley’s grandfathers gym it was as if the smell of old sweat and testosterone leaped out at me from the pages, it made the training for West more realistic in my mind for sure. This was a great mixture of different aspects of how our decisions can cause long term effects, some of the decisions made by both Haley and West in their past truly set the stage for what obstacles they are each facing. Haley has spent the last 6 months of her life in torment caused by her memories of the night she broke up with her abusive boyfriend, especially the memories of how she had to defend herself which caused her to quit the sport of kickboxing. West is living with the guilt that he blames himself for the accident 3 months prior that caused his younger sister Rachel to end up fighting for her life and his way of coping has his father left with no choice but to issue an ultimatum that changes not only West’s academic venue but his very lifestyle. This is a very well thought out look into family dynamics, taking responsibility for ones self rather than solely depending upon others, the value of honesty and integrity and above all it is a great addition to Pushing the Limits series which just keeps getting better and better as we learn more and more about the characters, both primary and secondary, Katie McGarry has brought to life for us in her works! [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for honest review]
I would like to thank Harlequin Teen for approving me for a copy of this on Net Galley to read and review. I absolutely love this series so I was itching to read this. Receiving this book in e-format has in no way influenced my impression or review. Blurb 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. So like every other cover in this series I love this one. And I appreciated it even more after I finished reading this book. Because it truly captures the essence of this book's plot. If you haven't read the first books in this series, stop here. I can't promise that you won't see some spoilers, although I'm trying to keep it spoiler free. Plus, you really have to read Katie's other books, because they are just that good and they give you a bit of the background for the world you're walking into. West Young, I really wanted to hate him. I mean, I was really mad with him when I read Crash Into You. I hated how he treated Rachel's relationship with Isaiah. And he didn't live up to big brother status for me in that book. But once I read this one, I totally understood why. West is so broken. He seems like this well put together guy who just like to fight with people. But deep down, he's truly trying to get the approval of his rather, who has pretty much cast him off as no good and useless. Throughout this whole book, all I could do was grab my chest when I was reading West's POV. I mean his account of his life, how he lived, what he had to live with was truly heart wrenching. McGarry has a way of taking a character I really wanted to hate and turning it around to make me love them. She did this with Isaiah and now she's done it with West. Every part of me bleeds for him and wants to fix him. He's so instant on being this tough individual who can do for himself he doesn't let anyone else take care of him. He needs some taking care of! And, while I was totally annoyed with West in CIY for what he did to Rachel, he does redeem himself in this book because he had no idea what he did would put her in such danger. West is cocky and sometimes I wanted to punch him, but in the end I just fell in love. Haley is such a strong character. Her main concern is her family. She doesn't want anything to happen to them. She does everything in her power to protect them, including putting herself in danger. Her life is so hard. And she's gone to every length possible to keep her family from knowing things that would make them upset. But in the long run it really hurts her more. And she keeps it inside and it eats her up. They want to help care for her, but she can't open up to them without thinking they are going to pay for her "sins". I love how loyal and protective she is. But at the same time she's totally vulnerable. And talk about screwed up family dynamics. I can't stand Haley's uncle, he just uses the family for his own benefit and also abuses them. I think the character I fell in love with even more than before in this book was Abby. This girl needs her own book. She's witty and totally selfish for the most part. But, she grows to actually care for West, in a strange way but still. I love that she showed loyalty to him and how much she tries to help him, without actually telling him what he needs to know. In the long run, she definitely becomes an essential part of his development. Overall, the characters in this book are amazing. They really develop well. You see them grow and change and turn around. I love how independent in a good way Haley and West both become. And the romance is so sweet. She doesn't want to get involved, but she can't resist him. He wants her and is determined to win her over but without her knowing who he truly is. I think he changes the most in this book, although we didn't know Haley before so it's hard to say. But going from West in Crash Into You to him in this book, it's amazing the transformation he makes. McGarry also includes a lot of twists and turns so you never really know what road it's going to take. All the while, she makes it heart wrenching and sincere. There wasn't a moment that didn't pull at my chest and make me want to keep reading on. Honestly I really couldn't put this book down. The plot is interesting and racing. McGarry infuses love, friendship, trust, and hard knocks in this book. There isn't a moment where you won't feel some kind of emotion. And Katie's writing, well, if you enjoyed her other books, you are not going to be disappointed with this one at all. She does a phenomenal job with displaying the emotions of the characters and showing us the world she's built so well. If you liked Katie's other stories, there's no way you won't like this. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has enjoyed Jennifer Armentrout's Wait For You or Kasie West's The Distance Between Us. I need more. I know there will be another Echo and Noah book, but there's so much potential to have tons of books in this series surrounding all these fabulous character. I can only hope Katie will do it
4.5/5 stars Hoo boy. When I first heard West was getting his own book, I was super psyched. I do love a good redemption story, and West was definitely NOT my favorite person in Crash into You. I was curious to see more of him and just what was going on in his head. There is so much more to West than I ever realized and my heart completely broke for him. Not only does West have a hell of a story to tell, but Haley does as well. Both of these characters have to deal with things that no teen should ever have to, but the reality of it is: it happens on a daily basis and I am amazed at the sheer strength both of these characters possess in this story. Pacing: When I first saw this book was 500 something pages, I was floored. Yeah, it's Katie McGarry. I should know better by now. I devoured this baby in ONE day. So, needless to say, I felt the pacing went really well. I liked the development of West and Haley's relationship and it was fun to watch the two fall for one another and realize how much they needed one another to get through some really hard moments. Storyline: We met West in Katie's previous novel, Crash into You. In this novel, he feels an immense amount of guilt over what happened to his sister Rachel and finds he can't quite make himself go and visit her. This causes an even bigger rift between him and his parents (his dad especially) and causes some serious problems in the already fragile Young household. After getting expelled from his current private school, West finds himself at the same public school as the girl he helped and got into a scuffle for previously. West Young is a complication Haley does NOT need right now. She is already having to deal with some serious issues at home, as well as keeping her brother and cousin out of her ex-boyfriend's line of sight. Haley has sacrificed so much in her life to protect the ones she loves and I really admire her for that. She shoulders so much of her burden herself, however, when there are so many people that are willing to help ease the load. She is afraid of what would happen if she does, which is why falling for West is a very bad idea.... I feel like there's so much more to say, but I will keep it brief and just tell you that McGarry does a great job of tackling hard issues and creating two very strong, independent people that do what they feel they can to persevere and work to create a better life for themselves. Characters: I really loved both West and Haley. They are great protagonists and I love that we got to read the story from both their perspectives. McGarry always does such an amazing job at characterization. I love that we can see character growth and development throughout the novel, as it really helps solidify that connection that I crave to have with my characters. My heart was so broken for Haley. She is a product of unfortunate circumstances and now lives in a less than stellar living situation. Her family is currently living with her uncle's family and it is not ideal at all. She must abide curfew or she will find herself stuck out on the streets at night and left to fend for herself. On top of that, her father is at such a low point in his life, that he does not feel he can fight back for his children, for fear of getting kicked out. Haley is forced to play by the rules, even when the rules are seriously unfair. Having ended things with her ex-boyfriend, Haley is also feeling the aftermath of that relationship. If only it could be an amicable parting of ways. Haley has been forced to make sacrifices in order to protect the people she loves and that comes at a great cost. One of those costs is her kickboxing. Having once been held in high esteem at her grandfather's gym, she has lost that due to some things that have happened in the past, and Haley finds she cannot go back, even knowing she would eventually be accepted again. I love her protective nature, but at the same time, I wanted to beg her to ask for help and not carry the weight of everything all by herself. West comes in and throws Haley's life into chaos. She sees him as another person she has to protect and she begs him to leave her alone. However, West isn't so easily swayed. He knows there is much more going on with Haley than he knows, but one thing is for sure: he's not letting her face it alone. This is what redeemed West for me. He fights for Haley. He defends her when NO ONE else will and it really shows you the type of guy he truly is. Sure, he comes from money, wears designer clothes, and has never had to want for once in his life, but sometimes perfection is merely a façade. West has a lot more problems than you would guess and the choices he makes will really make you appreciate him and forgive him for trying to do the right thing with his family, even if handled in the wrong manner. West and Haley's relationship is developed just right and I like that Katie didn't rush it. Trust is such an important thing for these two, so naturally it doesn't come easily. It comes through their actions and the lengths they would go to ensure the others' safety. But holy chemistry! West and Haley have it in spades and I do oh so love that McGarry isn't afraid to hold back! I love that Abby also makes several appearances in this book. She is still such a mystery, but I love her quirky, helpful nature. Final Thoughts: I am just so in love with this series. Katie always manages to evoke such strong emotions and each characters' journey is one that is both beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time. I love how she isn't afraid to tackle the more sensitive topics and really make you stop and think at just what these teens must face and deal with on an everyday basis.
"She and I are like two separate halves to a whole. Separate in that two of us could live life apart snd be successful, but when we are together - when we are whole - that's when the magic begins." I loved West and Haley's story. It was another great book in the series.
I wanted to read Take Me On because I have adored everything Katie has written and figured this would be no exception. I got this one from netgalley but not compensated besides free book, and doesn't effect how I review this book. In West and Haley's story, we hit the ground running, just as Haley almost does when West nearly hits her with his car. This fated meeting shapes the next parts of their lives, sometimes bringing up bad memories, and getting into pasts that they are trying to escape from. We get a peek at how Rachel is doing, get to see Isaiah by her side, we meet again with Abby too, and it makes me so happy. She is one of my favorite side characters and I am still rooting for her to get her own book so we get to know more of her life instead of the front she puts on. We got to see inside a bit with Rachel, but still I wanted more. Anywho. I love this world within our world that Katie McGarry has written. Her characters have such depth, and they are flawed. They have very real problems that has shaped how they view others, and how they go about life. I remember in Crash Into You, I had a lot of issues with Rachel's brothers, and surprise, West is a main character in this one, and I come to terms with what was going on in that handsome little head of his. He carries so much guilt for how he handled the money and even coming to a new view with her panic attacks, and the pressure they all put on her to keep their mom happy. With her so hurt and injured, he won't go and see her because he is convinced that she hates and blames him as well. West is a fighter, but the heart that is under there really got to me. The relationship with his dad broke my heart and I can see how that sort of shaping will also change how you would relate with your sister. But I adored the way he was with Haley from the beginning. How he respects women even if he shows it in strange ways, and he really did try to help, even when Haley was convinced that he was doing anything but helping when he kept interfering. They had so much chemistry that it lit up the pages and made me sigh. Their very touches effected the other so much. Which was kind of a miracle with how Haley shut herself down after her failure of a last relationship. She is wary of them too because of the naive choices she made that hurt her relationship with her family. Her brother Kaden and her cousin Jax are closest to her, and they lost some respect for her because she lied to protect them with how some things went down. And when West keeps getting thrown into her path, it is hard to admit that she is attracted to him. But they have a deeper connection to and more in common than either could have ever guessed, and some of that in common is things they wouldn't wish on their worst enemy. The ending was perfect for both of them. Not only do we get progression and updates from Isaiah, Rachel and Abby, but we get some closure for West and Haley. They both had a lot to learn about themselves, life and work to do in order to really make sure they are going after their dreams. It took a lot of life's beatings for them to finally see the light and really understand some of the things that others have been trying to pound into their head whether about their actions, their images, their pasts, or about love in general. We get to see that although they had to make hard choices, choices that aren't going to end any time soon, that they have such a hope, love and support from their friends and family. Family in this one was not pretty, but it was a continual theme. Adults screw up big time too, but unfortunately their mistakes also will extend to their families, and sometimes life just sucks and bad things happen. But our responses are what define us. That we still fight, that we are still living and not giving up can give more hope to others that we think. Haley is living in a messed up situation with her family, and they have to learn to stand up to the person putting a roof over their heads, because no matter what good is done, some things just can't be forgiven. West's family always had the money, but their mom was in such a tunnel vision depression from losing a daughter that too often she just didn't see the children still in front of her. But luckily both her and West's father have a lot of growth, and while there is still a long way to go with them, at least they try. These books are so addicting and readable. They deal with real life tough issues, and then throws heart stopping first kisses, chemistry and a huge dash of hope for the characters you come to love, they are irresistaI fly through them and don't want to stop or real life to interfere while I am getting caught up in their lives, their romances, and the story they have to tell. And by the way I am with Tanya and Glass we need more in this series. 6 and #7 need to be about Abby and Ethan! Feel free to tweet with us/me #morepushingthelimts Bottom Line: Another great one in the Push the Limits series getting a look at two new characters whose fates ran into each other.
3.5 Stars ~Reviewed by ANN & posted at Under the Covers Book Blog One of my favorite NA/Mature YA series definitely has to be the Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry. Each book in the series offers great emotion in varying ways. This time, McGarry takes on the champion kickboxing world when the heroine, Haley has a background in the extreme sport. Although she is amongst the best of the best, an incident caused her to stop. Some pressure from her uncle has her further pushing herself away from the sport until it seems like she will fully give it up. Haley literally runs into West Young one night, nearly getting the both of the killed in the process. It begins a whole series of dangerous events involving Haley’s protective ex-boyfriend and West trying to prove himself to everyone around him. You may know West alreay if you’ve read the other books in the series. He is Rachel’s brother- the one who took her money when she needed it the most. Although it was honourable, West believes that the reason she is in the hospital is because of him. It is because of this guilt that his relationship with his siblings and parents are strained. After getting kicked out of the family, West finds himself at Haley’s school where a scheduled fight is to occur between him and Haley’s ex. West has two months to train for this fight, leaving Haley no choice but to submerge herself into the kickboxing world again. I found this book to have a different feel than the other books in the series. A little less dark, it deals with more familial aspects rather than internal and individual struggles. It’s clear from the very beginning that McGarry has done plenty of research to make this book as authentic as it can possibly be. I loved reading all the details and definitely felt that it makes a huge difference. I wonder if it was the ARC copy I received, but the switches between POV weren’t clearly labelled, so it often jumped from Haley’s POV to West’s within a few pages. Because of this, it really interrupted the flow of the book. Hopefully, the final copy will have better separation. While not my favourite in the series, McGarry still manages to stuff a lot of emotion in one little book. I was impressed by the way she is so readily able to integrate so many aspects into a book and make it work. The romance could have been emphasized a little more in the beginning. However, I enjoyed watching West work a little bit to win Haley over. TAKE ME ON rules the ring! Hard-hitting emotion and passion intertwine in this beautiful romance with a lethal edge. *ARC provided by publisher
Haley had my heart from the very beginning. She has a secret. A secret her family must not discover, or they will be in danger. But this secret is messing with Haley’s life. She quit her favourite sport, kick boxing and swore she’d never date another fighter again after her relationship ends in shambles. But Haley wasn’t expecting West. We met West in the last book of the Pushing the Limits series, and I was quite excited when I found out he was going to be the main male protagonist in this story! He’s got secrets too, a burden on his shoulders that he wish he could share. West and Haley are thrown together when West gets himself into a fight everyone knows he can’t win. But Haley agrees to train him, as she feels partly responsible, after all, he was defending her honour. This book is intense, filled with life struggles, failed plans, and dreams that will either make it or break it. I finished this book in one sitting, as I honestly could not put it down. I needed to know what happened next. Does West end up fighting? Do they become more than friends? I needed to know, right then and there, so I kept going page after page. I saw their relationship grow from training partners to something more. I rooted for them the entire novel, and I prayed with each chapter that their steamy attraction would come to a head and that I could see them together, happy. But burdens and secrets threaten to destroy everything Haley and West were working towards. Ups, downs, laughter, crying, this book to me on a world win of emotions and I can’t wait to continue on with the next book in the series. Four stars for the amazing romance and intensity that never leaves. This series has become one of my favourite series of all time. I don’t read much contemporary, much oh my, oh my, has this series changed that. ❤
One of the best books that i read in my top five list. I HIGHLY recommed this book so much!!
This is a tie for my second favorite in the series!
Katie McGarry has yet to disappoint.
"Im just... lm not sure. I haven been feeling well"
Shellfur padded in, her eyes full of disappointment.
At sloree oswee retukt 889374746&4&4 love ya dawn
I wanted to read this book soooo badly so i preordered it but it wont give me the option to read it now
I don't think it's possible for Katie McGarry to write characters that don't have amazing chemistry. I devoured every book in the Pushing the Limits series and Take Me On was no different. Hayley and West come from two very different backgrounds with one thing in common: They like to fight. Difference being that West fights because he can't control his temper and Hayley, once a championed fighter who holds a national title, hasn't fought in six months. After a random chance encounter, and Hayley subsequently saving West from two thugs, West slowly enters himself into Hayley's life, despite her protests. Hayley and West's relationship differed from the others of the series because where our past couples initially started conversing for some sort of mutual gain, West more or less forces himself into Hayley's life. Hayley is a definite bad ass, but refuses help from other with an innate need to handle things on her own terms while protecting those she loves and cares about. West on the other hand, has a desire to protect. He blames himself for Rachel's current hospitalization and feels himself a failure and outcast in the eyes of his family. But in his eyes, protecting Hayley is his chance for redemption. These two characters have great chemistry and, despite her reluctance to train him herself, I love that they bond over these training sessions. Side note, I wouldn't mind Hayley training me to fight - girl is hardcore. And in their relationship, I really believe it is West who helps Hayley out more by allowing her to face her past and present demons and to deal with them instead of running. He helps her become that fighter she once was and allows her to gain the confidence to stand strong once more. Katie never fails to make me grin like an idiot with her books. The boys are always swoon worthy, the girls are never damsels in distress, the romances are always spot on, and the plots engaging and thought out. I know she has one more book for this series coming out, Breaking the Rules, but nothing beyond that planned for this series. And while I'm going to be sad to say goodbye to these characters, I have to thank Katie for renewing my love of the contemporary/realistic fiction genre.
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Take Me On by Katie McGarry Book Four of the Pushing the Limits series Publisher: Harlequin TEEN Publication Date: May 27, 2014 Rating: 4 stars Source: eARC from NetGalley Summary (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. What I Liked: This companion series and I have a love-hate relationship. Well, not exactly "hate" - I haven't rated any of the four books under three stars. Book one got five stars, book two got four, book three got three... and book four gets four stars. I haven't read the novellas (I'm very meh about novellas). Overall, this book had a lot of elements that I loved in the other books, minus a lot that I didn't love, plus a few that are new that I didn't like... but this is my second favorite book of the series, for sure. West meets Haley when she jumps in front of his car, trying to get away from her drugged-up ex-boyfriend's brother. She was carrying her dad's prescription meds home, and they jumped her for them. And probably for more, given the past. But West is in just as deep as Haley, because West defended her that night, and effectively got himself a match against the ex-boyfriend's brother. Note about the ex-boyfriend (Matt): he's a boxer fighter thing, and he's part of Black Fire, along with his cronies and brother and whatnot. Haley's brother and cousin is of the rival team... and Haley used to be too, until she dated Matt. But Haley's not the only one with problems: West's sister in the hospital, West's dad kicks him out of the house, and West has a huge mess to deal with, in terms of the big fight in two months. Is it all worth it? I didn't think I would like any males of this series more than I like Ryan... well, West and Ryan are now tied. I liked Isaiah, right up until he got his own book. I like Noah, but I like West and Ryan. I guess I like my refined bad boys, and not the actual "bad" bad boys. West isn't good though - he gets into fights and gets expelled from his rich-boy prep school and has a temper and too much pride to ask his father to let him move back in. Sleeping in his car, it is! Such pride, what a male ego. No but seriously, I really like West. I think I understand him, even if I can't completely relate to him. He sounds like someone I know (here we go), except the guy I know gets along really well with his parents. Too well, I find. Good for him. Back to West. West is a golden boy fallen angel cat-ate-the-canary sexy and sweet and honest and devilish and flirtatious PHEW DID YOU GET ALL OF THAT. I like West. I think I like Haley too! I struggled with Beth and Rachel, but I really liked Echo, and I like Haley. Haley isn't too bad a character, even if she is totally messed up and scared and a bit wimpy, in my opinion. She learns, she grows, her character development. It's all good. The same can be said for West, though I like him more than I like Haley, by a lot. I love the romance, honestly. I couldn't necessarily say that about book three, but I enjoyed the romances in book one, and mostly, in book two. This romance was a bit easier to follow, less constrained by doubts on the female protagonist's part, and with more boldness on the male protagonist's part. Go West! I like how crazy this book gets, without getting too crazy. In book three, the craziness felt like too much. All the drag-racing and threats and whatnot... it felt like too much, and definitely NOT easy to relate to. Even in books one and three, and this book, the content isn't easy to relate to, meaning the story, the plot, the nature of the story. Most people I know (and I know A LOT of teenagers and young adults) don't drag-race or sell hardcore drugs (though this is debatable) or fight (as in boxing) or fight (as in fistfights) or so on. But that doesn't make the stories enjoyable. For the most part. Back to the crazies - the climax of this book isn't super hyped up towards the fight - THANK GOODNESS. Not everything is high stakes fighting in this book, which is totally fine with me. I love that college is such a huge part of each of these books, especially this one. My respect grudgingly went up several notches for Haley, because she is determined to put herself through college and pay for it herself or earn it herself (via merit or skill). I'm the same way. I refuse to let my parents pay for me to go to Johns Hopkins. Granted, Haley will NOT be attending such an expensive university. But given her circumstances, I'm proud of her. She's got the fighting skills for athletic scholarships, which is great. Overall, I liked this one. After the disappointment that was Crash Into You (although I still gave it three stars), I was not entirely thrilled to read this one. BUT WEST. I liked West from the start. So many issues are tackled in this book, and I love how important relationships are, like brother-sister (Rachel/West, Kaden/Jax/Haley), father-son (West/Dad), and the good old couple (West/Haley). I'm very pleased with the development of relationships in this book! And with the book overall. What I Did Not Like: Like I said above, it's hard to relate to these characters and their situations. I'm not exposed to abuse, drugs, alcohol, violence, gambling, promiscuity, etc. - mostly because I don't put myself in situations to be exposed to these aspects of life. So, personally, I can't relate to people like Isaiah or Beth or Abby or Haley. Doesn't mean I can't like them or sympathize, but I can't put myself in their shoes. I would never be in their shoes, to begin with. I wasn't Haley's biggest fan throughout the novel, though I understood her. I believe she hides and shuts down and runs away and it's such b.s., but I get it, more so with her than with Beth or Rachel or any of the other McGarry heroines. Not saying that I like this trope. Not every teenage girl handles problems like that. Would I Recommend It: If you've read any of the books in this series, it's totally worth it to read this one. And honestly, if you're like me, and thought that the series was on its way to a terrible slump, don't be afraid to read Take Me On! You should read book three though (as not-so-impressive as it was), because West and company are introduced in that book. Not in books one or two. Rating: 4 stars - a solid 4 stars. I'm glad I gave this one a shot, despite the slump in the series, after Pushing the Limits! I'm curious about McGarry's next contemporary books - so much contemporary. Be warned - McGarry's contemporary novels are NOT just romance-based. Romance, yes, but tough issues and a lot of highly flawed characters!
I’ve wanted to read Katie McGarry’s Take Me On ever since I first saw the cover and found out it was a story with mixed martial arts involved. As a teen girl who participates in combative sports I have been waiting for so, so long to get a story that involves a female protagonist who participates as well and is described doing so accurately. Take Me On is just that. It brings me so much joy knowing that this book exists and that McGarry knew what she was talking about in her writing. Haley Williams is an ex-champion kickboxer who walked away for reasons she doesn’t like to discuss. Living with an uncle who is the bane of her existence and her fighter brother and cousin—all eyes are on her to keep things running smoothly. It isn’t until Haley is faced with dangerous conflict that she meets West Young. West is a member of the richest family in town and is trying to keep that secret from Haley who he is slowly falling for. When Haley’s ex-boyfriend (and pro fighter) confronts her, West acts in her defense and finds himself agreeing to a fight in the cage in two months. West’s only chance is to accept training from Haley but no amount of natural talent or restraint can stop either of them from the intense feelings between them both. I’m very nit-picky when it comes to mixed martial arts and I thought about everything that Haley’s character said about mauy thai and striking. It was all legit. There wasn’t anything that Haley said or did that was wrong and I really loved that. A lot of the time writers won’t accurately describe things correctly when they have characters teaching other characters how to fight. Obviously, based on what I’ve already said, that isn’t the case for Take Me On at all. My other concern going into Take Me On was the fact that I have not read any of the other Pushing the Limits books. I’ve heard that they’re good. That they’ve got romantic, heart-wrenching stories but I haven’t had the opportunity to read them. The only reason I read Take Me On was the whole combative sports aspect. I enjoyed that Take Me On didn’t feel like a continuation of the series and that I had no clue what was going on. Everything that took place in the previous novel and all of the characters were introduced brand-new to me. Haley and West’s characters are unique and entertaining. The way that McGarry writes them does give a realistic idea of what it’s like to be in their heads. Everything’s in first person and the majority of West’s thought process had me smirking or giving a laugh here or there. The two of them are characters that are nothing alike—but opposites attract in this novel’s case. Take Me On is written in a way that leaves some mystery behind the character’s pasts and that mystery is slowly unfolded as the novel continues. Take Me On was a good, well-written read. My only complaint would be the romance between West and Haley. Don’t get me wrong, the scenes between them were cute but it’s been admitted between both characters in their thought processes that it’s infatuation that first attracts them to each other. This didn’t sound so much to me like love as it did lust and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I wish that there could have been a slow burn type build up to their relationship instead of using a fake-relationship trope but for other readers this could be their cup of tea. I would recommend Take Me On to readers who are fans of YA contemporary. Readers who are looking for a romantic read with a ton of action and mystery involved. Finally, to any readers who want a novel that has many twists and turns not to mention pretty steamy make out scenes.
Read it intwo days
My Rating: 4 Stars If you’re looking for teen angst with heavy romance, you’ll love Katie McGarry. Her characters always have really horrible life situations that they have to work through, and her couples are always interesting pairs. Yes it’s high on angst, but what else were you expecting from this genre? Haley is a national title holding kick boxer. But due to a really bad breakup, she can’t fight anymore. This is a problem when she is attacked on her way home (in a really bad neighborhood); but some guy comes to her rescue…sort of. He does his best to help but gets knocked out in the process. West Young is spoiled rich kid who’s gotten expelled from his snooty private school for fighting. But he doesn’t stand a chance against trained fighters. By defending Haley’s honor, he gets himself caught up in a feud that could literally kill him. Haley agrees to train West when he is challenged to a match by Haley’s ex-boyfriend, and Haley doesn’t think he’ll make it out alive. On top of that, his dad has kicked him out of the house and he’s sleeping in his car. Haley’s home situation is even worse, as she and her family live with her uncle, who is the devil incarnate. Despite these hardships, Haley and West can’t deny their attraction to each other, and romance blossoms as the get to know one another. There’s a lot going on here. McGarry does a great job with creating a story, and then weaving romance into it. Certainly the romance is the driving force of the book, but there is so much happening with Haley’s family and their relationship with her uncle, Haley trying to get into college, West and his relationship with his family, dealing with PTSD, etc. There were plenty of times where I would be like “I would go buy a gun and shoot this person, because they are literally Satan.” I’m not ashamed. That’s another McGarry does well; she makes her bad guys bad. Really bad. Not just, “hmm, I feel like taking over the world today” bad, but like “I shoot puppies for fun and eat hopeful dreams for breakfast” bad. It’s amazing to see these two kids survive some of the situations they did. I know this stuff happens every day and I’m so blessed to not have to be one of those people. This book will make you thankful for a lot. For example, I’m so glad that I don’t have to sleep in my car. West and Haley have to over come a lot; it’s such a relief to reach the end of the book, because I don’t know if I could have taken much more of their ridiculous hardships. There are plenty of swoon worthy moments as well. McGarry knows how to write romance, and there is no lack here. I don’t think I necessarily liked West and Haley as much as some of her other couples (Noah and Echo, Rachel and Isaiah), but they were still very sweet. Rachel and Isaiah pop up some in this book, since West is Rachel’s idiot younger brother who stole money from her in Crash Into You. It’s so funny to see Isaiah from someone else’s viewpoint, because you get such a biased view from Rachel in Crash Into You, but no one else likes him. Except for Abby. Abby. She’s a trip. I love how crazy she is. I hope she gets her own book, because she is honestly one of the more interesting side characters, and she deserves a some happiness. She pretends to be all tough and mean, but she has a big heart, especially where her friends are concerned. I think she’s a great character. I really like this series. The stories are generally pretty predictable, but so enjoyable. Great for fans of Simone Elkeles Perfect Chemistry series. Review by Jessica @ Ramblings on Readings
I really enjoyed the plot and meaning behind this book and how strong the female lead was but the language was RIDICULOUS!!! Excessive use of vulgar language really made this book go down huge levels for me. Not a "teen" book in my eyes