Devourer of books with a preference for fiction. Quite good at competitive reading. Happily hoards books of all kinds. Gets stabby going too long without reading.
I got this review copy from NetGalley in return for a fair and unbiased review. The book is available now.
Emily lives a nice, safe, uneventful life with her mother and adopted father Once a year she meets up with her biological dad for an awkward day, usually spent shopping, but she tries not to think too much about him or his side of the family. After all, he willingly signed away his parental rights and wanted nothing to do with her as a baby, right? However, when her mother receives word that Eli (her bio dad)'s mother has died, she insists they have to return to Kentucky for the funeral. What they discover there turns Emily's life on its head and challenges everything she ever believed about herself, her mother, Eli and his family.
Oz has wanted to be a member of the Reign of Terror, motorcycle club that Eli is a leading member of, for as long as he can remember. He's finally turned 18 and is eligible as a prospect for the club, when Emily bursts into his life and complicates it massively. For reasons no one wants to explain, a rival MC gang are trying to get to Eli through Emily, and Oz is tasked with keeping her safe. While he finds her easy on the eyes, she's also a total pain in his butt, and no matter how pretty she is, hooking up with the boss' daughter is a terrible idea. Emily also turns her nose up at everything Oz loves and admires, so just as he's determined to prove his worth to Eli and the other heads of the Reign of Terror by making sure not a hair is harmed on her head, Oz is determined to prove to her that she is wrong about the bikers and their community.
I really like the YA books I've read in Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits series, so when I heard that she had a new series out, and was able to request the book on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance. As with her other books, the chapters alternate between the heroine and hero, who usually start out from very different places, and gradually gain knowledge and understanding of the other. The setup for the book takes place over more or less twenty-four dramatic hours, when Emily and her parents go back to her mother's hometown in Kentucky to attend a funeral. Emily is persuaded to stay on with Eli and get to know more of his family, both biological and chosen. Due to her mother's stories about her time there, Emily is anxious and reluctant to stay, but also curious about Eli. When her beloved adopted father assures her that he doesn't feel threatened by her curiosity about her biological father's extended family, she's reluctantly convinced that staying in Kentucky is ok.
Oz lives and breathes for the biker club all the men of his acquaintance are a member of. Despite his parents' wishes that he go to college and use his brains to get a good degree, all he wants is to become a full member of the club, working for the security firm they own. He likes coaching little league teams and working with kids, but it's the club that is his only focus. He's asked to help guard Emily during her first twenty-four hours, and when he briefly nods off on duty, she and her parents are nearly attacked by their rivals, and Oz' chance at making prospect suddenly look very weak. So when Emily is persuaded to stay, and Eli gives Oz a second chance to prove his worth, Oz swears he'll never leave her side.
There are clearly secrets about Eli and Emily's mother's shared past that neither Oz and Emily know enough about, but members of Eli's family really want Emily to dig into her roots. While their relationship begins as deeply antagonistic, the more time they spend together, the closer they grow. In the series description for Thunder Road, of which this book is the first, it claims it was pitched as West Side Story meets Sons of Anarchy, which seems pretty apt. Emily and Oz come from different worlds, but the more time Emily spends in Kentucky, the more she discovers that their heritage is very much the same, she's just been denied hers.
I liked the book, but it didn't captivate me like the best of McGarry's earlier books. I will be looking out for the next book in the series, and there are a number of troubled teens introduced over the course of the story that the reader will no doubt see find their own happy endings in future books.