By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general.
I think some authors, in their zeal to avoid the cardinal sin of telling too much and showing too little, err on the side of brevity so much that they leave the reader hanging. This fourth installment of Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits series, which I have totally devoured this week, is an example of such a book. This story has an interesting premise: both the hero and heroine are homeless, though by very different circumstances. Haley's family has been on a slow slide from lower middle class stability since her father lost his job, and they've been bouncing around from shelters and friends and finally settle in an overcrowded two bedroom house already occupied by Haley's mean-spirited and controlling uncle and his family. Meanwhile, West goes from being the pampered scion of Louisville's wealthiest family to living in the back of his car overnight when his rebellious behavior gets him kicked out of school, which is the last straw for his father, who kicks him out. There are so many issues this book could have explored about the similarities and differences between West and Haley's positions and their attitudes toward their shared circumstance, and it's not that the book didn't touch on these things... but it only touched on them, it didn't sink its teeth in.
That's true of so many of the subplots as well. There's a lot going on in this story: issues with Haley's family and West's family, Haley's history of domestic violence with an ex-boyfriend and the trauma associated with it, West's discovery of a deeply guarded secret regarding his past, West's sister's recovery from an almost fatal car accident, Haley's efforts to find a way to pay for college, Haley's history as a champion kickboxer (a sport she's walked away from) and West's introduction to that sport, a final confrontation between West and Haley's ex, and West's and Haley's developing feelings for each other. "Take Me On" deals with all of these things, but only glancingly. The plot skips right along, but all of these issues are too weighty to be addressed as summarily as they are. The whole book whet my appetite, but didn't satisfy.