Book Review: Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry

Book Title/Author: Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry
Publisher/Year: : Harlequin Teen July 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: It’s kind of a standalone but I guess there will be an upcoming novel that continues on with another character becoming the main character from what it seems.
Other Books From Author: None! It’s her debut!

Amazon| Goodreads | Katie McGarry’s Website

The Story

Two troubled teenagers, Echo & Noah, know what it’s like to be on the outside these days. Echo was a popular cheerleader with tons of friends until she came to school mysteriously bearing horrible scars that everybody wonders about but nobody knows what happened — even Echo who has repressed most of the horrible memories from that night that changed her life. Noah has been a ward of the state being bounced around from one bad foster home to the next; separated from his brothers after their parents died.  He’s known as the bad boy who uses girls and he loves to live up to the superlative flashing his bad attitude around school. When the two are forced into each other’s lives by a nosy school counselor, they realize how much they truly do have in common with their haunted pasts and their undeniable, fiery attraction to one another — despite how different they seem to everyone else.

The Review:

I have seen nothing but glowing and dazzling reviews of this book. No really, you’d have to search hard to find a less than stellar review of this heartpounding romance that has set the YA blogging community abuzz. So naturally I had to read it and experience this romance for myself!

This isn’t going to be a “bad” review by any means but I have to be brutally honest that I didn’t fall head-over-heels-doodling-hearts-in-my-notebook-while-daydreaming like everyone else seemed to. I really did enjoy this book — the suspense of finding out the secrets that Echo and Noah harbor, the initial tension and allure of their romantical/sexual tension, the intensity of  Echo’s piecing together of that night but my ONLY PROBLEM was that I was just really not into the romance aspect which is a very, very big part of this book obviously.

Noah made me swoon initially despite the inkling I was getting that this was going to be a “bad boy isn’t really such a bad boy and turns into the majestical Understanding & Sensitive Boyfriend That Was In Him All Along.” I was even down with that. I like a bad boy who just needs the layers peeled back a little bit to realize he’s mostly just misunderstood and broken down. My own REAL love story follows a little bit of that path (not NEARLY as dramatic). It wasn’t that. But here are the two things that made me really just NOT enjoy the romance:

  • Reason 1: GAG. Sorry, I still want to throw up in my mouth a little bit with some of the things that Noah said. I was all into him until he started calling Echo things like “his nymph” (a word I relate too much to Lolita) or “his siren”….I’m sorry, in real life I’d laugh in your face. Maybe Will and I just aren’t big on such mushy pet names for each other so it’s hard for me not to want to crawl out of my skin. I’m aware, it’s probably just a problem with ME. But then he started saying things like this:  “Say the word, baby, and I’ll rock your world.” and many other things that just made me fall out of love with him sadly. It was so corny to me. Too eyerolly for me.
  • Reason 2: Everything just seemed so over the top with them. I liked dramatic love stories but it was just too dramatic  for my liking. It also could go back to how I was already not so smitten anymore with Noah.

Now don’t get me wrong — there are some very good steamy moments and some really cute parts between the two of them but I honestly just wasn’t as invested into their romance as I was their own individual story. I wonder if I would have been had their not been a lot of the corniness and the overabundance of pet names that made me gag.

Aside from the romance, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a quick read with it’s crazy sexual tension and also the riveting unraveling of Echo and  Noah’s past. I LOVED Echo. I really did. And I did love Noah — his story was just so heartbreaking and for the “bad boy” fare in YA he seemed pretty authentic. He just didn’t go changing everything about himself for her — he kept some of those bad habits. And as much as I had issue with his romantical side, I thought he was SUCH a great character. So devoted to his brothers. And Echo’s story was just CRAZY. I was beyond invested in both of them and my heart sunk for both of them in so many places in this book (the mother scene and then again with some of the parts at the end with Noah and his brothers). They were two characters who you easily feel for and who just are more than characters in a story after your done — they really do jump off the pages.


My Final Thought

If you like your drama DIZZYING like something off The CW, your boys a little bad and your romance a bit steamier than the usual YA romance…I think you’ll get along quite well with Pushing The Limits. I loved so much about this book (the characters, the INITIAL tension between the two, the way McGarry reveals their past, some REALLY well-done heartfelt moments not even related to their romance) but the romance, and I realize I’m WAY in the minority, was not at all my favorite due to the reasons I listed above and mostly just the first one. I couldn’t get over it. But MOST of the people in the world LOVED it so fear not!


You May Also Like: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, The Thing About Truth by Lauren Barnholdt AND if you like the “can’t remember what happened and have to try and remember storyline” — Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf (my review) and Forget You by Jennifer Echols


Let’s talky talk: Have you read this book? Is it on your radar? What other romances are a little more steamy in books you’ve read lately? I’m dying for some recommendations as most of the romance I read is more on the cutesy swoonworthy side.

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Even though I really loved this book I totally get where you are coming from Jamie. I would kind of eye-roll every time Noah called Echo his nymph and siren – it’s kinda weird, and was way too repetitive. & I get that the drama was a bit over the top. But I was just swept away by the mystery about what was going on in both of their lives and their chemistry. I usually don’t read contemporary romance books, but the mystery and realistic issues really kept me engaged.

    I’m really interested to see how the author handles Beth’s story. She wasn’t my favourite character, and I think it will be hard to achieve the same sort of things that made Pushing the Limits the success it was: the chemistry, the mystery, and two (mostly) loveable characters.

  2. Oh I loved this book, like so freaking much!!! BUT I see why it tje romance put you off. When something irks you and one point you just can’t ignore it anymore and then it’s driving you crazy! Maybe her next book will be better in this departement:)

  3. I was expecting A LOT. And whilst I did enjoy it, sadly, it didn’t meet my expectations.

    I didn’t fall head-over-heels-doodling-hearts-in-my-notebook-while-daydreaming with PTL either. I didn’t mind that Noah compared Echo to ‘his siren’ or any of that shiz (I can totes see the comparison – red, flowing hair, curvy, etc) but it kinda got annoying when he called her ‘baby’. I mean, she’s 18, a woman, a grown up. She is NOT a baby.

    Now that that’s out in the open… I loved the characters, the emotions (those parts at the end with Noah and his brothers? *cries*), Noah and Echo’s journey and the romance was sweet. So whilst I didn’t love it as much as I hoped I would, I still really enjoyed it.

    Amazing review, Jamie! <3

  4. Steph @ The Caffeinated Reader says:

    I’ve been meaning to read this one. I’ve read mixed reviews. I’m still curious, but I’d definitely laugh at my boyfriend if he called me a siren. That’s way too ridiculous for me.

    I 100% recommend Easy by Tammara Webber. Steamy issue book with college age characters. Also Jessica Darling, but I think you’ve already read those 🙂

  5. I loved this book, but I can recognize what you are saying when Noah made you gag. He says a lot of lame things that are very cringe worthy, but somehow I got past that and was totally absorbed by the mystery surrounding Echo’s past. Great review, Jamie! (I haven’t talked to you in awhile. I hope all is well! I’ve been meaning to tell you that your wedding pictures were gorgeous by the way! You looked stunning! Let me know if and when you are hitting up any signings around our area!)

  6. I liked the romance a lot more than you did but that’s a great review – really informative.

  7. Well, you know I 100% agree with you on this one.

  8. I really like the sound of this one (I’m all for some dizzying drama and romance) although I’m a little iffy when it comes to the idea of pet names. I guess I’ll just have to go into it with an open mind, and see what happens! 🙂

  9. Like you said, most of the reviews of this book have been outstanding, gushing, etc. I haven’t really felt the desire to read it. I’m thinking it’s the cover; it does look a little CW cheesy! You totally sealed the deal for me when you pointed out that he calls her his nymph and his siren; I don’t think I could handle that if a guy said it to me. There would be major laughing. Anyway… glad some parts of the book worked for you and you gave us your honest thoughts on everything!

  10. Ginger @ GReads! says:

    I agree with you SO MUCH. I was excited to read this book because of everyone raving about it & then shortly realized I was in the minority on this one. I just couldn’t get past Noah’s character, mainly his dialogue (both internal & external) which kept me from connecting with the story. Sorry, just wasn’t a fan.

  11. YES. This review is EXACTLY how I feel about the book. To be honest, I still haven’t finished it because I can only take so much of the romance at a time! (And I’m a romance girl times a million, so it’s disappointing.) It’s just that some of the dialogue (especially Noah’s) seems so forced. However, I really love the storyline about Noah and his brothers — very sweet — and the mystery about what happened to Echo. So, that’s been keeping me going and I’ll definitely pick it up again 🙂

  12. My favorite part was the story line about Noah and his brothers…that’s the part that had me sobbing. I did like the romance, though, too.

  13. Honestly, I’m not big into YA romances as I find they are too over the top. Unfortunately, this book sounds like just that type of reading and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not my style. I’m like you—the super cutesy stuff doesn’t get my gears going. I am, however, intrigued by why Echo has all those scars and what makes Noah such a self-pronounced bad boy. I think those parts of the story would keep me more than engaged. Great review, Jamie!

  14. Okay, thank you for reviewing this and for being honest. I think I will actually enjoy this book a lot more now when I read it because I am totally the same way about cutesy pet names and cheesy lines (ugh! shiver! recoil! eye roll!), so it’s really nice to know that beforehand. Everyone else has been giving this book nothing but glowing reviews, so I probably would have been a little disappointed, so thank you! Excited to read this! 🙂

  15. I am totally with you on the romance. I was gagging for sure at their interactions.

  16. Wonderful review, Jamie! I have to admit that Noah’s constant repetition of “siren” and “cinnamon scent” made me gag, but overall I did enjoy this book. Still, like you mentioned, I thought it would be a WHOLE lot more steamier than it was.

    I don’t know if you enjoy adult books, but if you do, I’d recommend The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning. It’s an Adult Urban Fantasy Series and while it takes awhile for the romance to become steamy with all the sexual tension running around, it becomes very good by the 4th and 5th Novels. Plus, the plot is amazing! On Dublin Street by Samantha Young is also a romance I really enjoyed.

    In terms of YA, I tend to prefer romances which are subtle, so I haven’t read a lot of steamy romances in this genre. Still, all of my favorite romances are YA romances, so I loved Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, Fire by Kristen Cashore, Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken, The Dark Light by Sara Walsh, and Angelfall by Susan Ee. I’m sure you must’ve read most of these as they are very popular, but if you haven’t, I’d encourage you to check them out. None of them are solely romance books, but they all have wonderful romances regardless! 🙂

  17. I have the feeling I’ll probably feel the same way as you about this one, but who knows? After all, I do harbor a not-so-secret love for the Perfect Chemistry series, and those are as over the top as you can get!

  18. Yeah, I didn’t really enjoy this book as much as everyone else and I am PRETTY SURE I blocked the nymphs and sirens from my memory because even though I know heaps of reviews that mention it, IT IS A BLANK SPACE TO ME cos you know, gross. Anyway, I thought it really is easy to feel for the characters and you are so right about the drama being DIZZYING. This book is definitely a page turner.

  19. So far this is my fave book I’ve read this year. I’ve actually seen some other bloggers comment on things Noah said, and they they didn’t like it. I can’t say I loved it, but it really didn’t bother me.

    I read Perfect Chemistry after reading Pushing the Limits because I heard that I would like it, but I had a harder time with Perfect Chemistry. I wasn’t as connected with the characters in PC as I was with PTL.

  20. I found your blog on Twitter. You’re so right that positive reviews abound for this book! I skimmed your review because I didn’t want to spoiler myself before I read this (I got a free copy at the Romantic Times convention and can’t wait to read it) but it’s good to hear a balanced view of the novel.

  21. Reading this review now brings back the memory of our extremely long-winded discussion on the Amtrak ride, which was totally awesome. I love how this book sparked such an interesting discussion for us both!

    As you already know, I agree with how you felt about the romance. It was a little cheesy (although I do like seeing how they cared a lot about each other) and the use of all those ToE was a little much (ESPECIALLY the “siren” bit). I really loved this book because of each individual’s story (Echo and her repressed memory, Noah and his brothers), and I can highly recommend it and commend it for that!


  1. […] felt little pricks of sadness and tragedy — mostly at the ending. Also, like my issues with Pushing The Limits, I found their love very eyerolly to me and, in this case, very […]