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Magan: Take Me On by Katie McGarry

book cover for Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Take Me On by Katie McGarry (twitter | website)
Previously ReviewedPushing the Limits // Dare You To // Crash Into You
Publication Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Pages: 544
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: mixed martial arts, job loss, family injuries, fighting and kickboxing
Format Read: ARC from Publisher via Netgalley. (Thank you!)

Summary: After swearing she’d never date a fighter again, Haley finds herself in a “relationship” with West, the new guy at school, as she teaches him to become a mix martial arts fighter. She must teach him how to fight or else she puts her cousin and brother’s lives at risk of ongoing, life-threatening fights with her ex-boyfriend.

Take Me On by Katie McGarry was full of all the elements I felt were strengths in Pushing the Limits — great witty banter between Haley and West, real life complications and issues, an interesting setting (a gym with a lot of emphasis on kickboxing and mixed martial arts), and fantastic burning chemistry.

But there were also some setbacks for me, too. It took quite a long time for me to feel like the story was progressing because the tension and constant back and forth dance between Haley and West’s emotions took quite a long time to level out. I desperately wanted them to make a decision. Could Haley accept that West was nothing like her ex-boyfriend and revoke her decision to never date another fighter? Could West settle down and stop feeling like the world was against him?

Haley’s ex brought out the absolute worst side of her and turned her kickboxing passion into something she wanted nothing to do with. Her deteriorating home life leaves Haley constantly feeling like a lesser version of herself. She walks on eggshells around her uncle who disrespects women (and people in general) in the most awful ways. She’s witnessing her father spiral out of control while desperately wanting him to get his act together and protect her. Even one of her closest friends, her grandfather, doesn’t know exactly what Haley’s gone through; she’s completely secluded herself and withdrawn.

West’s home life is the exact opposite of Haley’s by comparison — he has everything money can buy, lives in a sprawling mansion, and attends one of the best private schools. But when you look beyond all the shiny material things, you see that West’s mother is just as detached as Haley’s father, that his father’s expectations are unnecessarily high, and his sister is in the hospital for something he blames himself for.

Seeing these two broken individuals come together as they figure out how to heal and move past their struggles was probably my favorite part of Take Me On. I loved the symbolism behind the fighting that Haley was teaching West to do (and hoped that she would find worth in herself and start fighting for herself, too). Sometimes I felt like the story was dragging along more slowly than would have been ideal, making the whole book feel a little bit too lengthy. I can understand how in a real-world setting, people with West and Haley’s struggles wouldn’t immediately be able to bypass them and embrace the love being extended to them.

Haley and West’s story was an enjoyable experience that took me into another world and really made my day-to-day issues seem meager by comparison. Katie McGarry did a great job branching out to explore this new fighting dynamic and continues to impress with her ability to heal two broken characters.

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June 12, 2014 - 11:17 pm

Ellice Y - Great review, M! I just finished writing my review for Take Me On, and I really found it difficult to explain my thoughts on it! Like you, I felt that the book was a bit too long. Not only did it drag in places, I thought that the dialogue between West and Haley was VERY repetitive. I understand that it’s necessary to prevent an “instalove” situation, but at the same time, it slowed the pace of the story down a little too much.

Other than that, I loved Take Me On. It may beat Pushing the Limits as my favorite of McGarry’s books. I especially love the family dynamics in this book despite the few horrible and unlikeable family members that Haley and West have. The relationship between Haley, Kaden, Jax, and John was my absolute favorite– I love that they shared a special bond not only as family but because of MMA, and I really loved that the guys respected Haley’s talent as a fighter! I did get mad at them at first because, like West, I wanted them to beat the hell out of her uncle (he SO deserved it), but I also understood the bad situation that it would put Haley’s family in.

Anyway (I could go on and on about this book!), I really enjoyed your review. We share a lot of the same feelings about Take Me On! 🙂

June 10, 2014 - 6:47 pm

Danielle @ Love at First Page - I am a huge fan of this series, with Ryan’s book being my favorite, followed by Isaiah’s, but I liked this one a lot too. Katie McGarry is so good at writing complex family issues and swoony romance. Like you, I think this could have been cut shorter and I wish the second half didn’t have so many ups and downs in West and Hayley’s relationship. Otherwise, I thought the build up was perfectly done – the type of slow burn I love, filled with lots of tension – and I’m really hoping we’ll get stories for Abby and now Jax!
Great review, Magan!

June 6, 2014 - 3:21 pm

Alexa - I’m glad you ended up liking this one. This book is a chunky book and I’m sure there are a few parts that drag on in such a long story. I really can’t wait to read this one though because I do like this author and her books.

Thanks for the great review!

June 5, 2014 - 5:02 pm

Alexa S. - My favorite thing about Take Me On? Getting to know West Young. I already found him interesting in Crash Into You. But I totally fell for him because of this book! There’s just something about his personality (and his story) that really wormed its way into my heart. While he hasn’t quite eclipsed Ryan, he’s vying with Noah for second place. Other than that, I thought this was a solid McGarry book. A little long, a little too dramatic, but otherwise, a very good read!

June 5, 2014 - 4:01 am

Sue - I read Pushing the Limits recently and loved it. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

June 4, 2014 - 8:28 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I am a huge Katie McGarry fan. I’ve read everything she has written and enjoyed all of them. That said, Take Me On is my least favorite. I agree that things seemed slow at times. And I had a difficult time connecting to Haley and West, which is surprising because I’ve been able to connect to McGarry’s other leads so easily. I mean, I did care about Haley and West, but I just didn’t have that amazing connection to them that I usually do with McGarry’s characters.

I’m glad that you ultimately liked this one, though. Have you read McGarry’s other books besides Pushing the Limits?

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