Rated 5 stars ***** Pushing the limits, book #2. Harlequin Teen. 2013. ebook.
Beth has been taking care of her alcoholic mom in Louisville since she was 8 years old. Her father left them, her mother lives with a drug seller and user boyfriend who beats them, but Beth won’t abandon her. Now that she’s 17, she lives in a nearby foster home with her two best friends Isaiah and Noah, but is always ready to get her drunken mom out of the bar when called by the bartender, to buy her food, and to pay the bills as best as she can because her mother needs her.
When Beth is arrested for something her mother did, her Uncle Scott gets guardianship and moves her to the country town of Grafton. Beth is determined to hate Scott, to hate life in the sticks and to hate everyone there. She carries her hate, and fear, like a shield and everyone stays away from her – except for Ryan.
Ryan is the school’s sweetheart. He’s handsome, tall, strong, and a baseball champion. He and his friends are always daring each other to do things, so when he’s dared to ask her out he takes the challenge. Beth leads him on a merry chase, but he’s determined because he never loses at anything. In time, he finds himself falling for her but Beth is as slippery as an eel. Not ever knowing love or peace, she can’t believe someone like Ryan could ever love someone like her and is not about to fall for his “lies.” She thinks he’s perfect, but Ryan is hiding some secrets of his own. Could two teenagers who are both in pain and lost in their own sorrows find happiness with each other?
I loved the way relationships formed in this book, and know teen readers 14 years and older will too. Though it’s labeled as book 2 in a series, I did not find any references to past events leading me to be happy that I hadn’t read book one beforehand.