All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far... and almost doesn't make it back.
John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won't soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won't be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge - and over...
Details: Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols, 256 pages, 4.20 stars on Goodreads
Why I Picked This Up: The cover was what initially attracted me. I wasn't too sure when I read the synopsis - I've never been too into books with romance as the main plot, but then I started reading so many fantastic reviews, and I finally gave up and stuck it on my to-read list. Just before I actually picked it up to read, I came across a less-than-glowing review that lamented how her high expectations made her enjoy this book even less than she would have. I was then wary of reading Going Too Far, but it was already in my hand so, I figured, I might as well see how it is.
Characters: Any thoughts I had about a cardboard romance with flat characters were dispelled after the first few pages, because Going Too Far had a wonderful cast of complex, realistic, believable characters. Meg sounds like a typical small-town female character who only "wants to get away", but she's really more complicated than that. She's cynical and rebellious, complete with the bright blue hair, and most of all, she's strong on the outside and insecure on the inside. This all sounds cliche, but Meg is different from characters I've read about before - she gets claustrophobic panic attacks even from using a seat belt, which gives a lot of insight into her character.
When Meg was younger, she had cancer, but unlike many stories of cancer patients, Meg didn't handle it well. She wasn't the brave martyr who took everything with a smile and still helped people worse off than herself. She was lonely and terrified instead, fighting and clawing to the point where the doctors had to strap her down to administer chemotherapy. It still haunts her to the present moment, and that's what caused her claustrophobia.
John was a fantastic character as well. He was the dark, handsome police officer, and yet he was more than that. He turned out to be just a little older than Meg, and even once was in one of her high school Spanish classes. A complex character as well, John had many layers to him and it was excellent reading to watch the layers strip off until we learn the very essence of him. There weree mysteries to him, as well. He had excellent grades and could have gone to many different, great universities, and yet he chose to stay in his tiny town and work as a police officer instead, not even going to college at all.
Plot: First, the actual set-up of the book felt a little too convenient to me. Instead of going to jail or getting fined or anything like that, Meg has to accompany John for seven nights in the police car during his shift. When would that kind of punishment be assigned by the police? Still, I was able to suspend my belief and really get into the story for one big reason:
The romance. It was hot (sorry, that's the only way I can think of to describe it) without being graphic in any way. It really shows Jennifer Echols' skill as a writer that she can make a book so sexy while still pretty modest. I loved the tension she created between John and Meg, and even though those two characters seemed so different, she managed to show how they were absolutely perfect together. Although their romance developed at a rather quick rate, I was able to believe it.
Both the characters had emotional baggage, especially Meg, and I love how that factored in. I'm pretty sure this was the best romance I've ever read - somehow managing to be smart, cute, insightful, and absolutely swoon-worthy all at once. I wouldn't call this a light book, but there are still funny moments that made me crack a smile. Definitely a pleasant surprise for me!
Cover: This is a gorgeous cover. It's pretty online but even better in real life. The soft colors and the tenderness of the pose were amazing, and as I was reading, I kept flipping back to the cover because it was just so beautiful and perfectly summed up the tone of the book.
Overall: A fantastic read! Even if you don't like romances that much, like me, you might still enjoy this because it was so well-crafted.
Plot - 3/5
Characters - 5/5
Writing - 5/5
Impact - 2/5
Inability to put it down - 3/5
Total - 72% = B