This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Harlequin
Released on November 25, 2013
There was no not reading this book. It is Isaiah’s book and I wanted it so badly. I’m glad that the author did not make me wait. I went into this one so worried about who the heroine would be and I have to say that for at least the first oh say…okay most of the book I wasn’t really impressed. I had a certain image in my mind of the girl who would be worthy and would make him happy and the sweet, clueless, little broken doll who is Rachel was not it. At. All. Period.
I’m not heartless. I can truly appreciate the issues that Rachel had and just how messed up and broken her whole family was, but I was just done with all the ‘stuff’ that Isaiah had to shoulder. I wanted just once for him to have someone strong enough that it would just be about a relationship and not another someone in need of rescue. Unfortunately, Rachel was definitely someone in need of rescue- from herself mostly. I was angry for Isaiah’s sake, but somewhere in the middle of the story I started to be angry for Rachel’s sake too (it was never an issue of not liking her though I didn’t love her either). Sure, I saw from early on what the solution was for her and for the whole situation, but she’s a teen and vulnerable so it takes her the whole book to get a clue. It always angers me when teens have to be the protectors instead of the other way around. So anyway, somewhere past the middle I really got into Rachel’s story as much as Isaiah’s. I still don’t think they are a good fit, but I do adore them both and was really pleased with how things went down.
After this book though, I now have several people that I really want to pursue as characters of their own books. There is Abby- tots adorbs this girl who is a female taking care of her bad stuff as best she can. There is Logan- and won’t the girl he gets be something else to curb this adrenaline junkie’s needs. There are all Rachel’s loveable hunky older brothers and even another look in with Echo and Noah because what in the world has caused her to start hiding her arms again? Oh and then there are the peripheral people like Isaiah’s caseworker, Courtney and the poor lost one who sold his soul, Zach. I’ve just decided on the spot that I like Courtney for Rachel’s oldest brother Gavin. Ms. McGarry’s characters are just so much brighter even with the rawness and darkness in them than other book characters out there.
The summary looks something like this…Isaiah has been living in a rat-infested rundown apartment building with Noah while his foster parents collect the money and pretend. He has no desire to go back in the system and loves breathing the air of freedom even if it means living on the edge. He can’t afford to screw up though when he’s this close to finishing school, passing the certification for auto mechanics and getting that dream job working for the best so no illegal stuff and no getting caught for anything. Unfortunately, he needs to come up with some money fast because Noah’s drowning in all his responsibilities and can’t come up with anymore. Street racing it is.
Rachel Young, a girl who seemingly has it all- both parents, comfortable circumstances, great brothers and even a good school, but she’s drowning too. Rachel has the unlucky task of being the replacement child for her older ‘perfect’ sister who died of leukemia. Everyone in the family is busy making mom happy so she won’t grieve for the loss of her child even if it means pretending and ignoring things that shouldn’t be ignored. Rachel hides who she really is trying to please others. She’s a girl who suffers panic attacks, who would be happy with a simple friends and who loves cars both to drive and to work on them, but she covers all that up to be a girly girl who is just like what her dead sister once was for her mother’s sake. One night, she’s had enough and needs some air. Driving her baby- her Mustang- gives her that and she stumbles upon a street race. She’s hopped up and wants an adventure and blows through all the dangerous warning signs that she’s in way over her head. Well she gets one with far reaching consequences, but it also brings her Isaiah.
Rachel’s daring adventure through a set of circumstances gets her and Isaiah in trouble with a punk who rules the streets. They have six weeks to score five grand. Racing is their only option because Rachel won’t take the trouble to the law like Isaiah begged her to do- okay, and after he begged her not to get involved in the race too. Eric wants his five thousand, but he wants a talented and dangerous guy like Isaiah under his thumb more so he trips them up and sets them up to fail along the way.
Life couldn’t be more dangerous and complicated, but Isaiah can’t believe that it has brought his angel- Rachel into his life. She’s scared and she’s got issues, but she has staying power and most of all she wants Isaiah just the way he is. Meanwhile, his social worker wants him to connect with his long lost mother who now wants to see him and the school guidance counselor has figured out that he’s not living with his foster family. Rachel asks him for trust and to treat her as a partner in their venture, but he needs to protect and control because that’s who he is. Can he let go of what he holds to so tightly before it is too late? Can he get Rachel to admit that she needs to get help before her health fails her?
So, if you didn’t work it out from the tone of my summary, I was less than impressed with the not so stellar decisions and choices that led to the troubles in this book by one Rachel Young and to a lesser extent Isaiah and the rest of Rachel’s family. Her big thing about hiding who she really was and lying so much she was proficient enough to pass a poly test, but then turning around and whining about her family not seeing her and ‘killing’ her just made me want to smack her (lots of times). And her thing with her brothers? *rolls eyes at dimwitted girl child* Why should they trust and let up on the protect when lie, lie, lie, little girl and get self into big, big trouble? If there had been no Isaiah to catch her that first night, she would have caused a world of hurt to tons of people and would have been oblivious. She makes bad choice after bad choice needing Isaiah’s rescue each and every time, but then stomps her little kittenish foot and declares that he really needs to trust her to go up against a street gangster on the guys’ terms. She just never got it about how bad stuff really was. Isaiah tries to explain and all she can do is whine ‘you didn’t call’ even after he rescued her from Eric and he explained that any contact would have led the bad guys to her because Isaiah was being watched. He said it twice (apparently he needed to use Powerpoint and colorful illustrations on story boards). Oh yeah, and all those times she bought the crap people were peddling against Isaiah when he came through each time just really got old. And this would be why it took a very long time for me to want good things for her when most of the book I just wanted her gone.
During the majority of the book, Isaiah and many of the new and emerging side characters were what really made the book for me. Isaiah is not perfect and he is very flawed, but he had a goal and he could see light and hope at the end of his tunnel. This story is really all about him dealing with his past and present junk and showing that he has not just survived, but will make it when the system spits him out. This guy was forged of steel after all the fires he has been through. I ached for all that life has thrown at him, but he just keeps fighting to keep his head above water. Between Beth and his mother wanting a piece of him, I wasn’t sure if he could hold it all together. I couldn’t stand Rachel for much of the book, but she put a smile on his face and laughter on his lips so she served her purpose.
Now I got angry with Rachel, but her situation and family life shows what can happen when people don’t deal with grief properly- when it gets shunted aside to allow for other prop-ups to replace the pain and healing of the grief process. Truthfully, I got pretty angry at her parents who nearly destroyed their children especially Rachel. All the remaining kids are messed up in their own ways because mom and dad are lost in mourning for the child who is gone. Everything is about the child who isn’t there. I can get why Rachel hates a sister she never met and I totally understand her going to such extremes to gain the love of parents who never see her as anything, but Colleen’s replacement. And it is this empathy that finally allowed me to stop being so angry with Rachel and start rooting for her to deal with her issues and free herself and everyone else in that stagnant family.
So in the end, I would still consider this a must-read and I still could gush for long amounts of time over this series and this writer.
This book is older teen recommended due to the presence of strong language, mild sexual scenes and darker themes throughout. If it weren’t for the age of the characters, I’d put this in the New Adult category.
Young Adult Contemporary Romance lovers who enjoy some grit, flaws and darker elements to their stories along with heroes and heroines that make all that other stuff worth it should definitely give this series a test drive.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review this book.