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ARC Review: Pushing the Limits

my thoughts in a few sentences: I KNOW. This book doesn’t come out until the END OF JULY, and I’m being a total tease for posting this review up SO EARLY. But, I HAD TO. I had to read this book (lying in wait of this on netgalley turned out to be more painful than anticipated), and I had to get the word out about this book ASAP. It is amazing, seriously. I’d go so far as to say it’s a damn near perfect contemporary romance! Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry takes the classic bad boy meets good girl story and twists it up so that not only is there WAY MORE than their stereotyped labels beneath the surface, but also so that the romance is extra delicious, intoxicating, and thorough.

hooking first lines: "'My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead and my mother has... well... issues. How do you think I'm doing?'"

Harlequin Teen • NetGalley • Contemporary Romance • 7/31/12 • $13.49

Pushing the Limits
by Katie McGarry
So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

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.
Noah and Echo

Noah is the lost boy, the stoner kid with an attitude and a trail of scored girls behind him. Pushing away the feelings of grief for his dead-three-years-before parents, he wants to find a way to reunite what’s left of his family. Echo is the school freak, the girl who attracts all sorts of rumors for the scars she keeps hidden beneath the long sleeves of her shirts and with a past that screams complicated. Bad boy bounced around from foster home to home meets the girl with family pressures. They share the long-standing grief that only people who have lost know.

I fell for Noah and Echo just about instantly. Concentration swapped between dual perspectives, two distinct voices, they quickly dug their way into my emotions, until I became so wrapped up in them, so… almost protective and on guard. I couldn’t handle anyone else in their lives disappointing them, hurting them with lies or the truth. It didn’t matter how many well-meaning people came and went into their lives—the result was the same: hurt. And I wanted to rip every single person responsible apart. Noah and Echo have to hurt and heal and grow up before they’re totally ready, one painful step at a time, uncovering things about themselves and others that wouldn’t exactly be considered positive. There’s so much anguish and despair here.

When the two plow into each other’s lives? I. COULDN’T. GET. ENOUGH. Noah is the boy who does one night stands, not long term relationships, zero kinds of attachments. And Echo is sure that no one will ever love her, not with the ghastly signs of mutilation running up and down her arms. Both of them yearn to be loved, unconsciously waiting for this dazzling opportunity to be with someone, when given the chance, who will finally put them first. My heart turned over in my chest with each hungry look, heavenly kiss, beautifully insightful conversation.
The romance

Echo and Noah have always known of each other. And have been, I think, subconsciously wary. What starts out as stupid teasing, Noah is intrigued. Emma wants to forget he ever opened his mouth. Throw the two together for tutoring? We’ve got taunting looks, mean teasing, and casual brushes of flesh all with an undercurrent of really hot sexual tension. Want someone to swoon over? Noah Hutchins is your man! Guy sure knows how to smolder, a sexy hunter to prey whose resistance is being demolished inch by steamy inch.

Between dodging ape ex-boyfriend eager to mate and having scorching encounters with a certain jacket-lending, torturously tempting possibility playing pool (how many naughty images raced through your head just then?), Echo’s love life has suddenly become way more interesting than she could’ve initially imagined. It’s really no toss-up. The boy who takes her to a war action movie following the death of her older brother in the Marines does not spell excellent boyfriend material. Good thing Echo’s a fantastic speller. First place, championship fantastic!

When Noah Hutchins does the boyfriend thing, I all but flung my undergarments to the wind. The ruthless guy with the dark good looks goes tender? He becomes all shades of attractive and desirable. He’s not just interested in kissing her and having a warm body under him on a whim. Only with Echo. Their relationship is full of plotting, laughter, pain-sharing, despair, trust, vulnerability, and love. They crease our hearts in all sorts of ways and places.

The issues

Whoa, baby, does this book bring on the problems. Would I call this an issue book? NOT AT ALL. This is a contemporary romance through and through with touches of self-discovery and coming-of-age elements. The issues serve as haunting pieces of the characters and the brunt of the force driving the compelling plot. They aren’t a message to anyone listening, necessarily. Still, both Noah and Echo deserve really big, tackle-glomp hugs. Showers of affectionate kisses and shoulder patting and more squeezing. They need love.

There’s abandonment, grief, death, growing up, separation, divorce, drugs, and all of this effects both Noah and Echo’s lives in varying degrees. They have to tackle these problems alone and together, and it wears on their relationship as well as their relationships outside of their own. They go through so much by the end of Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry that there can be no question as to their climbing character growth. There’s no absolute healing or perfect ending. These issues are aspects of their lives they will have to push out and fight and accept in order to continue with their lives and be happy, which made it beautiful and achingly realistic, adult.

Is this love?

It most certainly is! I can say I love Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry nearly as much to equate to Special Shelf, which is pretty darn amazing. It’s heart-wrenching, and it’s deep, touching every trace of emotion we could feel for characters who become two of our greatest friends. From Echo’s trying to fill the very fragile void of memory pertaining to the scars she can’t bear on her own to Noah’s fight to be with his little brothers, my heart went through the wringer with Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, and I couldn’t pull away.

McGarry balances the ending of her novel between realistic and satisfying, leaving us with hope, love, and happiness so full and exciting it would be next to impossible to forget this story.

Rating: Perfect Bed Partner
Wrapping my arms around her, I walked her backward into the brick. "Tell me you chose me, Echo."
She licked her lips. Those green eyes smoldered, calling me to her. "I chose you."
For the first time in three years, the coil forever tightened in my gut relaxed. "You will never regret it. I promise."
Letting my hands skim the curve of her waist, I leaned into her soft body.
I wanted her. All of her, but Echo deserved more than a quick thrill and better than guy like me. Everything neeeded to be slow and deliberate. I wanted to blow her mind with every touch and every kiss so her every thought always came back to me. I would never touch anyone else again without thinking about her.
I'd promised she would be more and I needed to keep that promise. (49%)

Looking for books with a similar feel, try checking out

Got something specific in mind? Dare I believe I might NOT have covered something you wish to know? If so, let me know down in the comments section. Don't be shy!


Ashley @ booknook said...

I was also super tempted to post my review early!  This book is just THAT amazing!  I feel like I have to scream it to the world and share it with everyone and make everyone read it!  I can't even tell you how many times I burst into giggles reading it, just because it was so amazing and I was so excited!

Great review!  I'm so glad you loved the book.  I'm already wanting to read it again!

Jenny said...

Wow, this sounds amazing Asher! I'm in love with Noah and Echo already just from reading your review, and I completely understand about feeling protective of them - I love when I feel that way about characters. I both want to keep reading to see what happens to them, but also don't want to as though my not knowing the rest of their story will protect them from what's going to happen:) Adding this one to the list immediately!

Liz. R said...

I am in awe of your ability to make me love a book before I've even read it. I feel like I'll be missing out on so much if I don't read this book now. Noah and Echo sounds so fascinating - and I am intrigued by both their mysterious pasts! Great review :).

Mimi Valentine said...

I WANT TO READ THIS BOOK SO BADLY NOW, IT ISN'T EVEN FUNNY. And I don't care that you posted your review extra early -- it's just making me extra-early-excited for this book all over again! :') Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE that I know seems to be faling head over heels in love with Echo and Noah and I think you nailed what everyone else was trying to say PERFECTLY. This book = must have on Mimi's shelf! You'd say this is a buy-worthy book, right? *hopeful face*

Thanks so much for the amazing review, Asher!!! :) <3

Caitlin said...

I wasn't that sure about this one, initially I was intrigued but thought it might be a little stereotypical but now, now I NEED it. I actually went to request it on NG half way through your review, then came back to read the other half. Seriously, I can't imagine NOT loving this now. I love you, for pushing me to request this, but I kinda hate you for adding to my TBR...

The Cait Files

Candace said...

Wow, what a great review!  It seems like I've read some other reviews that were good but not nearly as thorough and I think you've convinced me I MUST read this one! 
You are an awesome reviewer, I really loved how you pointed things out. 
Love your blog!  I can't believe I wasn't following before now!  In my reader you go!

Asher Knight said...

I couldn't resist! But I admire your self-control. I saw your little comment on your IMM about it, and I was like, SO TRUE. Everyone should read this book. it's so wonderful and I've already gone back to reread my favorite parts TWICE. XD

I'm so happy to see another fan in love!! Can't wait to read YOUR review ;D

Asher Knight said...

Oh, I'M SO HAPPY you're going to be reading this book. I want everyone on the planet to read it. I had a very VERY minimal amount of complaints (which all had to do with things outside of Noah and Echo). The romance, the two main characters, I JUST LOVED THEM BOTH SO MUCH.  Yeah, I feel like that too. But I couldn't stop reading it!

HOPE YOU LOVE IT. I think it's still up on Netgalley, so go, go, go :DD

Asher Knight said...

yaaaaaaay. That just made me so smiley. YOU WILL BE MISSING OUT. Please, please read it. I'm so in love I'm blinded to any other alternative other than you loving it. I LOVE NOAH AND ECHO. Hope you do too ;-)

Asher Knight said...

MIIIIMI. I want you especially to read this book! I KNOW you'll love this one, like with every fiber of my body. I was so excited I didn't care about posting early. I NEED EVERYBODY TO KNOW ABOUT IT, and want it. It's totally buy-worthy. Like, I will pre-order it as soon as I can get my hands on some cash money ;D


Asher Knight said...

 Stereotypical or not, Noah and Echo color outside the lines too, if you know what I mean. And together? They blow the charts with their sweetness and steaminess. THAT NEWS? Made me SOOOO HAPPY. I'm glad I could convince you EVEN IF, gosh forbid, you hate the book. At least you're willing to give it a shot. :DDD And you love me more than you hate me, and THAT'S ALL THAT REALLY MATTERS ;D

Asher Knight said...

 THANK YOU SO MUCH <3 I didn't even know there were other reviews. I feel so much better now for posting about it so early. I JUST COULDN'T CONTAIN MYSELF.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can't tell you what that means to me. I'm hope you continue to LOVE MY POSTS HERE ON OUT. :-DDD

@BookwormAsheley said...

DUDE, I super skimmed this review because I haven't read this yet. I read only a few words, meaning the ones in the green block at the bottom (HELLO!! Have mercy!) and at the top: "...the romance is extra delicious, intoxicating, and thorough." 

So, um, yeah, this'll be moved up in my TBR. hehe

Asher Knight said...

 IT'S TOTALLY SPOILER-FREE. You know, in case you get tempted. But I HOPE YOU LOVE THIS ONE. That quote is one of my favorite scenes, and that's the romance exactly.

READ IT. ASAP. I totally read this two months early and I'm so happy I did because now I can tell mad people to read this book, yo ;D

Rebecca (Kindle Fever) said...

Oh my gosh, I love your review! You totally made ME fall for it and I haven't even read it yet! I do admit I went to request it after seeing this review though and will be picking it up VERY soon. I need to read this awesome-looking story :o

Asher Knight said...

 YAY! I hope you love it! Request it on NG asap, Rebecca because I seriously doubt you'll regret it. It's one of those near-perfect contemporary reads and I fell so in love with it. IT IS AWESOME.

Sam @ Realm of Fiction said...

You know, I'm not a huge contemporary fan but I have wanted to read this book FOR SO LONG... Ever since I read the description, something about it just clicked and it's killing me not to be able to start it now. Then you had to go and post this AWESOME review. Evil, that is. EVIL. I have a NetGalley copy but my e-reader is playing dead... I think you may have even convinced me to computer screen read which makes my vision go blurry for about a week afterwards. Still, this book sounds like it is worth it. ;)

Vivianamott said...

My teen daughter just finished reading (and really enjoyed!) an eBook called Hear by Jacqueline Abelson. Great plot, interesting characters and a real message of self– empowerment. Here’s the link:


Lauren Phillips said...

This review was fantastic, you've made the book sound so awesome, I'm really looking forward to reading it. :)

Lynn K said...

Spoiler free reviews ftw! :D
I need a copy of PTL so bad!!! With all these reviews for PTL popping up lately, I've been trying not to read too closely in case I spoil myself. >.>

You're review only convinced me I need this book even more!