Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry Review: A typical bad boy romance

May 5, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 2 stars, Books, Reviews

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry Review: A typical bad boy romancePushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #1
Published by Harlequin Enterprises, Australia on July 25, 2012
Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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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. 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.

Back in the day, before I discovered amazing YA contemporaries, I always thought many of them would be typical everyday life to really enthrall me the way that fantasies and paranormal books do. That’s why it took me so long to read Pushing the Limits, a generic romance between a bad boy and an emotionally scarred girl. Unfortunately, the typical romance within the book was exactly what I got here – with the disappointment being self inflicted as it never really promised to be anything else.

Perhaps it’s because bad boys aren’t really my thing, with Noah as a pot smoker who has been in and out of foster homes. He’s rude, dangerous, and has a reputation for being a player, which doesn’t really interest me at all. He mostly notices Echo because she’s so attractive ‘with a rocking body’ and most of his thoughts about her turn to how much he wants to get into her pants.

As for the relationship itself, I didn’t really feel connected to it. Echo is so emotionally and physically scarred that when Noah didn’t judge her in the way most people would – she fell for him. She’s the typical damsel in distress and he’s someone who enjoys a challenge. It was great to see that these two respected each other though, unfortunately I found nothing much really happens within the book. There wasn’t really much complexity or depth to the relationship, other than the various problems the two are dealing with in their lives.

“Liar….Because the only way anyone will ever be okay with me is if they love me. Really love me enough to not care that I’m damaged. You don’t love people. You have sex with them. So how could you want to be with me?” – Echo

The guidance counsellor here was an interesting character who played a big part in shaping and supporting both Noah and Echo’s future direction, her methods were a bit intrusive at times, but ended up being effective. I was disappointed with the big mystery behind Echo’s repressed memories and it was an anticlimax pushing through the book’s more mundane moments just to reach that conclusion.

Pushing the Limits is your ‘bad boy falls in love and turns good’ story, which promotes the story that two damaged people being together makes them better because love conquers all. I probably didn’t enjoy it much because of my belief you should focus on looking after yourself before you look at being with someone else, especially one who is more damaged. If you like bad boys though, you’d probably love the story here. I’ve heard Dare You To is better though, so I’ll still give it a shot.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5


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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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68 responses to “Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry Review: A typical bad boy romance

  1. This book was probably my least favourite in the series. I had similar problems – Echo was too damaged to really have a convincing relationship with Noah, so I didn't believe it. However, I did like the climax and conclusion – I though it was very fitting. Dare You To was a little better, but Crash Into You is my favourite by FAR. In my opinion, Katie McGarry has improved her skills throughout the series. If so, Take Me On might blow me away. So excited for it's release!

    Be warned though – if you absolutely despise the theme that "love conquers/cures all" then you just might hate all of these books, because they all have that element to it.

    On that note, I still hope you enjoy them more!
    Brea @ Breezy Reads recently posted…If I Were a Fictional Character #3 – I would be Hazel Grace’s Dad!My Profile

    • Glad to hear it gets slightly better as it goes on, I think there was just something about how two damaged people that are together that didn't sit right with me. But love conquers all is a good theme, a bit different. Thank you Brea!

  2. I think this proves that not everyone will love/dislike a book as much as you do. I personally loved this book, but it's not everyone's cup of tea.

  3. Yes I'm glad someone else agrees with me! But lately, I've been really enjoying contemporaries after a massive dystopian/paranormal binge. They are great to interchange when you're looking for something a bit lighter I guess, and there are also some that are really heavy and emotional. Thank you lovely!

  4. Sorry to hear you didn't like this one, Jeann. I actually really loved it and gave it 5 stars. I love Katie's writing and I loved Echo and Noah and their story. I really love romance so that's probably why I loved it. Each to their own 🙂
    Rochelle Sharpe recently posted…YA Book Lover: A Short Story.My Profile

  5. Meh. I wasn't a huge fan of this one, either–it felt pretty standard contemporary YA to me with its bad boy turned good trope, and Noah just didn't do it for me. But so many people loooove this series! I'm curious to see what you think of the second one, though.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…TMG Updates + summer giveawayMy Profile

  6. I have this book too, but I still haven't read it. Most of my friends on GR liked it though. Sorry it didn't rock your world too, Jeann. I agree with you- two damaged people getting together sounds more like a recipe for a disaster, than a typical HEA. Thanks for sharing 🙂
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  7. Back in the day, before I discovered amazing YA contemporaries, I always thought many of them would be typical everyday life to really enthrall me the way that fantasies and paranormal books do. -You said

    And I kept laughing cuz that’s exactly how I feel! Contemporaries are a big no for me, but for the month of May i’m giving more chances to contemps, but I’ll stick with inspirational romance novels. I’ve never been much of a fan towards love triangles or easy going romance because it is so predictable. Come one. Can’t they get more creative than that? Anyways loved your review. hihi
    Chyna recently posted…Life of a Blogger: Pet PeeveMy Profile

  8. oh oh. I haven't read this one yet (Although I did read her Crash into You book and lOVED it) and now i'm not sure i want too, Originally the plan was to always make time at one point for this one but now i'm so skeptical. i agree with you, damaged characters need ot learn how to be okay indepedently before taking care of each other. Or else it doesn't work. Damn!

    I think i just won't read this authors prevouis books (but read her new one that comes out soon) just because the storyline was better in her last book and maybe her newest will just be more reasonable and understandable.!

    Greta review!

    Hope you enjoyed your next read more Jeann
    Lily recently posted…Best Friends MatterMy Profile

  9. I'm so sorry this wasn't up to your expectations and you didn't enjoy this as much as all the hype. I am a huge fan of this series, but some books are not meant for some people and I understand that completely. Do you think you would continue with the series, my favourite is Dare You To? 🙂 This one isn't your typical contemporary like the first one. I hope you get around to it. Lovely review, Jeann! 🙂
    Emma @ Never Judge a recently posted…REVIEW – NASH by Jay CrownoverMy Profile

  10. I saw this one a lot around a while ago but I confess I haven't tried the series. I'm sorry it wasn't as good as you though. It's difficult when you can really get into the characters and their relationship. Very tricky…

  11. Eek, putting it that way it does sound pretty sketchy huh, regarding love conquering all. I do agree with you that if you're emotionally scarred, there should be more emphasis on healing yourself first, and spending time with even more damaged people can be counterproductive. But then again, there have been exemptions to the rule! As for this book itself, at the time I read this it was hugely popular among other readers, but like you there was a feeling of… disillusionment. I didn't leave a proper review, but yours hit the nail on the head and echoed and said mine. I couldn't have said it better myself! Great review, love:)

    • Yeah, I was so surprised that they didn't get into actual therapy until later on! I know the school guidance counsellor was there but still. I'm glad to hear I Echoed your thoughts hehe (I see what you did there). Thanks Faye!

  12. It's weird, because I just finished the short 'Red at Night' novella that was released for the Goodie Two Shoes campaign, and while I liked it, the story and characters were very generic. The author seems to take two characters and give them different back-stories in each of her books. Tbh, it's not very unique.
    Joy @ Thoughts By J recently posted…‘The Fault in Our Stars’ Movie ReviewMy Profile

  13. Sunny recommended this to me and said I'd love it but I'm not sure. I like a bad boy from time to time but they have to be funny for me to like them. My friend also read this and she wasn't a huge fan so I have no idea what to expect because I have similar tastes to everyone. It sucks this didn't live up to your expectations!
    Francoise recently posted…{Review} Love Letters to the Dead by Ava DellairaMy Profile

  14. It is pretty general for a contemporary, especially if you have read a lot of them. This was probably one of my first contemporary reads so I liked it a lot but I think I would feel the same if I were in your shows! The second book in the series was probably my favorite. I agree about how there wasn't a lot involving their deeper issues.
    Alise recently posted…Help Us Choose A New FeatureMy Profile

  15. Oh that's a pity you didn't like this one. While I enjoyed it, I do get what you mean about the whole 'bad boy' aspect, and I totally agree. I much prefer me a sweet good guy that I would respect in real life. If think you'll like Ryan in Dare You To more, he's the typical 'good guy' and most certainly NOT a player! Although Beth may be a little abrasive at first, she does get better as the story continues. Hopefully you'll enjoy that one more when you get a chance to read it. 🙂
    Amy @ The Reading Re recently posted…{Release Day} Misunderstandings by Tiffany KingMy Profile

    • I love the sweet good guy too and I'm glad to see that fiction is starting to deliver more of these in this area (eg. TFIOS, Rainbow Rowell's books). Glad to hear Ryan is the complete opposite, that seems a lot more appealing to me. Thanks Amy!

  16. So, I've been meaning to read this book for ages, agesssss! And I still haven't got to it. Everyone's always raving about how awesome of a romance this is, it's actually kind of nice to see a different take on it. I think I have to agree with you on the "looking after yourself before you look at being with someone else", which is why I think I don't usually read too many of the bad boys/damaged couples kinda book.

    Thanks for the review! Hopefully the second book does it for you!
    Cyn @ Bookmunchies recently posted…Blog Tour Excerpt: Royally Lost by Angie StantonMy Profile

    • Same, it's been sitting on my shelf for a really long time but I'm glad I picked it up. I guess if you enjoyed the damaged couples thing then it might work for you. No problems Cyn, happy to provide a different perspective.

  17. I'm not a huge romance fan, so this didn't appeal to me in the first place, but I'm sorry you didn't like it as much as you hoped you would Jeann! I completely understand where you're coming from though – as a reader, we've all read too many bad boy romances, and it's a shame this one didn't have anything special going for it.

    Thanks for sharing though and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3
    Zoe @ The Infinite T recently posted…We Were LiarsMy Profile

  18. I think it's you, and not the book! 😛 I did enjoy this one more than I did Beth's story. But I can see why you didn't like it. A reader's experience does affect how you rate a book. If you can't really connect to the story or the main characters, then it's just another book you read. Thanks for the honest review, Jeann 🙂

  19. Pushing the Limits was one of the first contemporary romance books I read and I loved it. I do think part of the reason for that was that I never gave contemporary romance books a chance and when i did I found out I did enjoy them. I enjoyed the second book in this series less then the first book, although i really like Katie McGarry her writing style.

    Just like you I am not a big fan of the bad boy, but I did like Noah and how there was more about him then you would think first, like how much he cared about his little brothers. I agree with you that the guidance counselor was an interesting character!
    Lola recently posted…Blog Tour: Synchrony (Destiny #2) by Cindy Ray HaleMy Profile

    • It sounds like a lot of people transitioned to contemporary romance with this series, which is fantastic! Katie McGarry can sure write, I really did enjoy it. There is a deeper side to Noah which is great.

  20. That password thing is weird. Is that to stop the excess spam?

    Anyhoo, I loved this one but it was one of the first few contemporary books I read with the typical broken characters, so I may be a little biased. Noah just didn't seem like the typical bad boy to me, between him, Issiah and Beth, they seemed more like losers that couldn't pull themselves out of the hole they clearly enjoyed lying in. It's one thing to live under the poverty line, but another entirely when you spend your days drinking and smoking pot. I did really enjoy it though. My favourite so far has still been book three, Issiah's story, book two features Beth. Can't stand her really. Awesome review Jeann.

    Will you continue on with the series?
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    • Ah yes sorry I'm testing out different plugins but don't want to affect the current commenting process too much. It's annoying clearing the spam out all the time.

      Glad to hear you loved it, I think because I've already read some great contemporaries this one seems to be standard in comparison. LOL that's hilarious about Issiah and Beth! I read about them in this one and I'm like well they don't sound too much better. Glad to hear you enjoyed it. Yeah, I have the first 3 books on my shelf so will probably continue.

  21. I'm sorry to hear you didn't love this one as much as everyone else did, Jeann. I liked this one but I reckon if I re-read it I probably wouldn't like it. I can definitely see why you didn't enjoy this book as much. Bad boys aren't really my thing either and I tend to hate them most of the time, but I liked Noah's sweet side and his love for his brothers.

    I'd be curious to see what you think of the next book if you do decide to read it. I think it was my least favorite because the main character was a bitch for almost 3/4s of the book.

    Great review, Jeann!
    Nick @ Nick's B recently posted…Review : After the End by Amy PlumMy Profile

    • I know what it's like to be the black sheep now lol! Yeah, for some reason there were just a lot of predictable tropes in this one. I will read the next book though, interesting comments I've heard about it. Thanks Nick!

  22. I actually enjoyed Dare You To a little less than this, but I liked both books. I remember when I first read this, I was not into romances like that AT ALL, but, surprisingly, it really worked for me. I'm sorry it was more of a disappointing read for you, Jeann! I completely understand though, and I hope your next read is more to your liking. 🙂 Lovely review as always.
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  23. I own this book and I'd heard very good things, but I think now that I can lower my expectations, I might enjoy it more. I'm a little okay with bad boys, I mean, as long as they're not abusive and such then I'm okay with it. I'm still definitely going to read this in the next few months for a read-a-long, but I shall not expect amazing, who knows I might be surprised.. Thank you for the review Jeann, I always appreciate your opinion 🙂
    Amanda @ Book Badger recently posted…Book Review – Deep BlueMy Profile

    • Thank you Amanda, I think you might enjoy it if you are okay with bad boys and it will be fun joining in a read-along. Think it just wasn't particularly my thing.

  24. This is one of those books that I've been putting off reading along with the fault in our stars. I think it's because of all the hype that the books received. I do want to check this one out because I do like a bad boy, but I'm still sort of skeptical. Great review!
    Janina @ Synchronize recently posted…After the End by Amy PlumMy Profile

  25. Drat. When I saw that you'd reviewed this, I got all excited b/c it's been on my bookshelf FOREVER, and I was hoping I get some motivation to finally read it . . . NOPE, lol. I think I'm too far-removed from this to like it much more than you did. I have vague recollections of wanting the proverbial pot-smoker to turn over a new leaf (HA!) for love of moi when I was in high school, but now . . . it just seems so . . . YA. Which is what it is, so I guess I can't fault it for that, but that doesn't mean I have to read it and like it either. Great review, Jeann! I appreciate the insight.
    Jessica @ Rabid Read recently posted…Review: Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert CargillMy Profile

    • Yeah, heaps of people LOVED this book really bad but I just didn't feel it. Maybe it was all the raves? It sort of brought back that feeling where contemporary isn't really my thing (but I know it is because I have read so many books in that genre that I loved). Perhaps I just couldn't relate because I'm not a teen, who knows. Thank you Jessica!

  26. I have been wanting to read this book for a while now. I downloaded the free novella from Amazon and I enjoyed the writing (haven't finished it yet), but after that I kind of wanted to get a copy of this book. Thanks for the honest review, I might decide to wait a little longer to buy this one.
    Sandra @ Sandra&#039 recently posted…April Wrap UpMy Profile

    • I can't wait to read the free novella, I've heard great things. No problems, I still encourage you to check out other reviews to this book, especially if you enjoyed the author's writing.