Published by Harlequin Teen, the print edition is 544 pages.
TAKE ME ON is the fourth full-length novel in Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits series.
NOTE: This review is based on an eARC received from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.
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.
With each book in the Pushing the Limits series, Author Katie McGarry brings the story to a new level. In TAKE ME ON, she tackles even tougher challenges, challenges that go beyond the two main characters, West and Haley. She weaves them into her story, making them an integral part, not just an afterthought. And she gives her characters the strength to face them and the fight to overcome them.
TAKE ME ON is gritty and realistic and heartfelt and filled with emotion. Readers will easily connect with Haley and sympathize with her situation and their hearts will go out to West. The obstacles to their happy ending are ones that won’t disappear by the story’s end. They are challenges that both characters will have to continue to battle – anger, fear, guilt – in order to succeed. But they are both fighters, and they are not alone.
West is guilt-ridden and reckless and full of anger. He is also stubborn and proud and strong and dedicated. He is willing to stand up for those he loves, even if in doing so he puts himself in danger. Even if the price he’ll have to pay could cost him everything.
Haley is fearful and broken and weighed down by her guilt. She is lost, unsure of how to find her way back to the strong person she used to be. She is embarrassed by what happened to her family, ashamed of what she did and what she let happen to her. She doesn’t know who she is anymore.
But when their paths cross she’ll be forced to decide who and what she’s willing to fight for or whether fighting isn’t worth any risk at all.
TAKE ME ON is a captivating and beautifully written story that alternates between West and Haley’s perspectives. It will take readers through an emotional gauntlet as they discover Haley’s secret, learn about her family’s plight, find out what happens with West, and uncover what he learns about himself. It is romantic yet heartbreaking. It is both sad and sweet. It has depth of plot. It is exciting and riveting and is a lightning-fast read.
It is a story you won’t want to put down.
Like In-N-Out Burger‘s infamous secret menu this one deserves my off-the-menu 6 star rating.
On a Personal Note…
I am forever surprised by the books in this series. I think I couldn’t love the next book any more than the last, but I do. I think the author couldn’t dig deeper, but she does. I keep thinking the format will start to feel formulaic, but it doesn’t.
Many of the issues these characters face aren’t ones I can personally relate to. But somehow the author makes her characters relatable, sympathetic, lovable. She makes it so easy to connect with them, to understand what they’re going through, to feel their pain, sorrow, anguish, despair.
These stories are love stories but they are so much more than that. They are life stories. These characters feel very real. Their situations feel real. Their happiness and their unhappiness feels real. Each and every one of their stories is so very memorable.
I wasn’t sure that TAKE ME ON could surpass CRASH INTO YOU. Isaiah is my most favorite character in this series. But this story knocked me down and picked me back up so many times I couldn’t help but fall madly in love with it.
With everything that West went through, my heart broke and shattered. With everything that Haley’s family had to endure, my heart broke over and over again. But with each and every moment where they gave each other the strength to handle all that life was throwing at them, it would mend.
While this could be read out of sequence, I wouldn’t recommend it. I loved getting to know West just a little bit in CRASH INTO YOU. And I loved seeing how different – how wrong – my first impression of him was from what it was in TAKE ME ON. If I hadn’t met him earlier, I never would have seen in what ways he changed and in what ways he was the same.
I also wouldn’t have been able to see just how much more Katie McGarry brought to this story than the last.
While the description only highlights the romance, anyone who has read this series will know it’s much more than just that. But it is romantic. It’s all sorts of swoon-worthy and sexy and hot. It made me sigh. A lot. It made me smile. A lot. And it brought tears to my eyes. Many, many tears.
There are two passages that are tied for my favorite. And I’d thought about revealing both here. But as they are so important to the story, I figured I should probably only tease one.
And it was so hard to choose. But I decided on the one below that made me swoon and smile and sigh, versus the one that talked of loneliness, that was just a bit more bittersweet.
“You asked me earlier what it was like to come home,” I say.
Haley nods. I lace our fingers together and raise them into the air. “I couldn’t answer you because I didn’t know, but now I do. This—” I rock our hands “—I finally found home.”