Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

5/5 Stars
Published by Harlequin Teen
Published July 31st, 2012

Synopsis: "I won't tell anyone, Echo. I promise." Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. "You didn't do that-did you? It was done to you?" No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.
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..

This book was electrifyingPushing the Limits is one of those stories that you cannot put down. From the very first page, you'll want to invest the rest of your day to reading this heart-wrenching story. This is the first time I've read a book by Katie McGarry and I'm so happy to say that I enjoyed every single moment of this book. Katie McGarry has a way of hooking you with fiery relationships, heavy baggage, and intimacy - both physical and emotional. I was in dire need of a contemporary novel with a classic heavy romance and this fulfilled just that. After finishing Crooked Kingdom, I needed something that was light and steamy, and while this was far from a happy-go-lucky story, it had me hooked from the beginning.
While Pushing the Limits could definitely be seen as a story with a cliche-ish plot, Katie McGarry writes it amazingly well. The mystery behind the night of Echo's incidence will intrigue readers and keep them going. You become incredibly invested in discovering the truth behind those scars on Echo Emerson's arms and Noah's background and relationship with his brothers, which is means for developing a true connection with these characters. For the duration of the book, you're rooting for these characters. You want them to end up safe and joyful in the end, and also happily together, but the conflict present during the story resembles that of a tightly, tangled rope - its frustrating and incredibly difficult to unravel. However, these two characters worked so damn hard to figure themselves and each other out, while dealing with the pressure of school, friends, and their families. It's inspiring. This book is a perfect example of the good results that come with persistency, patience, and the right person by your side. 

Echo and Noah on their own are both two characters I could read from and about forever. They are both so uniquely distinct in their personalties that I was never bored with their separate chapters. Put them together and it becomes a fire storm of emotions, physical tension, and so much steaminess. Not only do they bring the best out in each other, they continually grow individually, which is a huge plus for me. Echo, burdened by an immense loss, experiences PTSD and its symptoms. She starts off the story exactly how you may suspect, - generally shy, hiding behind her hair from the stares of her classmates - but she is so much more. Echo is quick witted and blunt, she's strong, smart, and holds herself in a manner that is inspiring and beautiful, especially after all she has endured. You're immersed in her mind and her soul, immediately developing a connection that tugs at your heart the entire story. Noah, who is just as troubled, is a foster child seeking the custody of his two younger brothers Tyler and Jacob. Noah is everything. He's compassionate, loyal, protective, sensible, a huge force to be reckoned with, and just literally everything. You want the absolute best for this boy who steals your heart from the moment his first chapter arrives. As readers, you get to literally watch these two characters save each other from themselves and the demons that attempt to haunt them. 

Pushing the Limits is romantic, passionate, and everything you could ever want from a contemporary novel. There's substance to the story - it's not just two characters who can't stop sucking at each other's faces. While you fall in love with the story and its characters, its characters are falling in love with each other, and the whole world begins to revolve around this safe place that is Noah and Echo. The heavy themes explored in this book are handled excellently with careful awareness. I thought the writing was executed in a simple yet effective way that keeps you hooked on each and every word these characters say. There is so much fire involved in the development of this relationship, yet also so much heartbreak involved in cracking the plot. Katie McGarry knows how to catch her readers in a pickle. I really really enjoyed this book and cannot wait to move forward in the series. If you're in the mood for the a quick read or a book that'll get you out of a slump, this is perfect for you.