Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review: Take Me On

Take Me On
Katie McGarry
Young Adult/Contemporary
Pushing the Limits/Book 4
Harlequin Teen/May 27, 2014

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.

Take Me On another winner from Ms. McGarry.  This young adult series continues to impress.  The characters and their situations truly feel genuine.  Yes, even a female kickboxer.  Certainly not unheard of and in McGarry's hands, real.

Teenagers lives are rarely as simple as they might appear from the outside looking in.  Such is the case for Haley and West.  They both have their share of burdens to carry.  For Haley, it's the knowledge she is walking a thin line between keeping her family safe instead of following her dream.  Her family's situation is precarious with her father out of a job and the family dependent on Haley's uncle's kindness of which there is little.  The way each member of Haley's family is portrayed was important in showing how Haley has  to the point where she is.   It's West who helps give Haley the courage to fight back at the injustices she has suffered.

West is a rich kid on the wrong side of town when he finds himself in the middle of a fight.  He's outnumbered and out skilled but West doesn't know how to give up.  West is easy to like.  He has this way about him,  He's the guy we all remember from high school who could bug the crap out of us and still make us laugh.  West home life may look ideal, but there is so much more going on under the surface.  McGarry shows us how teens from well off families who seem to have it all, can, in reality, have very little of what is important.

The chemistry between Haley and West is well done in that it shows the nuances of teen romances.  How they can develop in spite of the obstacles thrown in their way.  The setting also played a big role in their romance. West learns how working hard for something makes it much more important when you achieve your goal.  For Haley, she learns who she can count on, not only herself but friends and family.  This is such an important message for young adults to hear.  Many may feel they are alone in dealing with their problems and reaching out, sharing some of their burden is not an option.  Kids shouldn't have to shoulder adult burdens and they shouldn't feel like they have to do it alone.

If you haven't read the first three books in the series, I would highly recommend you do.  (The novellas are good read too!) They are not essential to appreciating or understanding Take Me On, but they are well written and not to be missed.

Rating: A

Pushing the Limits ~

Pushing the Limits
Crossing the Line (novella)
Breaking the Rules (novella)
Dare You To
Crash into You
Take Me On