Rachel Young has lead a lonely life. Though she is surrounded by family, no one really gets her and she has no friends outside to close circle of brothers. No one really wants to deal with the weird girl with panic attacks, though as far as anyone knows she hasn’t had one in several years. The only thing that sooths her is being behind the wheel of her mustang, letting the speed set her free. So when the opportunity to race comes along, she’s all for it. Unfortunately that sets up a chain of events ultimately leading to her needing to come up with $5000 or else be put in the hospital for fucking with the wrong guy. Isaiah Walker is the boy from the wrong side of the tracks, with nothing to his name but the car he drives and the clothes on his back. He shouldn’t be getting involved in this rich girl’s drama, but she helped him when everyone else ran and that kind of favor deserves his upmost attention. Now, he finds himself feeling much more than gratitude towards her and wonders how this could possibly end well.
I was over the moon when I was granted access to this E-ARC. I’ve been dying for Isaiah’s book since I finished Pushing The Limits. Actually right when I finished, I was dying for the book where we see Beth & Isaiah finally be together…yeah, that didn’t happen. It was clear from the moment he appeared in PTL that there was more to him than meets the eye and he doesn’t disappoint. At first, I had a bit of a hard time really loving him he because he’s outer appearance (and the fact that he drives a fourth generation Mustang) reminds me way too much of my best friend’s husband (whom I despise beyond reasonable logic). But the further into the story you get, the more you see that shell fall away, leaving a vulnerable guy who really just wants to be loved. Poor Isaiah has been abandoned by everyone (except Noah) and he doesn’t understand what he’s doing or what’s so wrong with him that no one will love him. He’s literally waiting for the day when Rachel realizes she deserves better, just like Beth did. And Beth is the thing that stings the most. He did everything for her, helped her when she was down, fought for her when she went away, and she still didn’t want him. Watching him become more and more protective of Rachel, even though he does it in a sometimes pig-headed manner, was all the reason I needed to start swooning. Don’t get me wrong, I think I still love Noah more, but Isaiah is a close second.
Rachel was even more of a surprise. The level of emotional abuse this girl is put through without a second thought from her family is astounding. She is boxed into this role of being like her dead older sister even though it’s apparent to anyone who pays even a little attention that the two are nothing alike. But she plays the role, even though it literally makes her sick, because her mother’s happiness is paramount. Her hidden panic attacks are a small price to pay to see her mother smile, instead of seeing her mother spiral back into depression. She’s lonelier than she’d care to admit, with no one outside her brothers daring to even breathe close to her. So when Isaiah saves her from the cops, she’s grateful enough to not leave him behind when he’s car fails him. There is something mesmerizing in his grey eyes and she can’t stop thinking about what it would be like to finally get her first him, from him. She’s this amazingly shy form of brave, doing things she desperately wishes to avoid just to please a mother who doesn’t even care enough to realize that it’s killing her.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Katie McGarry knows how to write tortured characters. The plotline of this, finally learning more about Isaiah’s past and seeing how blind Rachel’s family is to what’s happening with her, was just as heart-breaking as the previous novels. Isaiah’s past isn’t as bad as Beth’s, but he’s definitely been through some bad shit and you can’t help but sympathize with his dilemma of hating the system but being so dependent on it that the thought of finding means to support himself after is ages out is terrifying. Despite not wanting to be a criminal, sometimes the illegal options look infinitely more appealing than flipping burgers.
I’ve seen several reviews complaining that they couldn’t get into this because both characters are so obsessed with cars and that took them out of the story. I whole-heartedly disagree. Seeing them connect about their passion made it all the better for me. I’m not a fanatic like them, but I can appreciate a pretty car as much as the next girl. My issue was more that they both obviously loved the fourth generation Mustang, which is my least favorite incarnation of the classic car. Okay, I’ll go ahead and say that a rant awaits below, so if you want to skip the next few paragraphs, feel free. You won’t miss anything particularly important pertaining to the writing or the plot, just my personal opinion about the cars and a few inconsistencies with them. It’s nothing that will bother the average person, but it really irritated me. The first one being that Rachel prefers the 2004 Mustang Cobra over the 2005 Mustang GT. For those of you who don’t know, I’ll provide pictures (this is eerily similar to my review for Dare You To):
2004 Mustang Cobra:
2005 Mustang GT:
As you can see, the 2005 is a throwback to the original design and, in my opinion, so much prettier. But hey, I guess I can respect an opinion that differs from mine. Whatever floats you boat. But then, if you look at the cover of this novel, I really start getting annoyed. The car color is the first thing that pops out at you. It’s red. But Rachel’s is white and Isaiah’s is black so….where’s the red come from? Then, for those of us who look a bit more closely, you’ll notice that they seat they are in does not resemble the seat of a newer model Mustang. In fact, it looks a lot like the 60’s model Mustang’s…which is what lead me to believe there would be one within these pages. There isn’t. The oldest one that appears is 1989. Then, there is the same issue that bugged me in Dare You To. It’s made clear that Rachel’s car has a manual transmissions. There are multiple mentions of them shifting gears and only a moron would race an automatic. SO THAN WHY THE FUCK DOES IT MENTION RAHCEL PUTTING HER CAR IN “PARK”? Come on, really? Again? I know the average person wouldn’t even notice this, but it obvious bugs the shit out of me. It completely pulls me out of the story. Out of all the people who proof-read this, did no one notice this? Did not one of you drive a straight drive? Seriously people, it’s not complicated. When you “park” a straight drive, you just kill the engine. If you are on a upward incline you can leave it in first gear or pull up the emergency break to keep it from moving or if you are on a downwards incline, you leave it in reverse (or pull up the emergency break) to keep it still, but there is not “park.”
Beyond that little blimp, this novel is near perfect. It gets 4 stars simply because it doesn’t quite live up to Pushing The Limits amazing-ness. It’s great, but PTL is better. I’m still super excited to read the next book. I am excited to see West’s story, though I’d be more interested to read about Abby. It’s obvious she has a bad past and an…interesting life and I would adore seeing more of her.
****Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****