A hard-bitten street girl and a seemingly perfect baseball hero fall for each other.
Through alternating chapters, readers immerse themselves in the lives of Ryan and Beth. Ryan lives in a small town outside Louisville, Ky., where he’s an ace baseball pitcher with real prospects for a professional career. Beth, 17, has been taking care of her addled, drug-addicted mother ever since they moved to Louisville when she was a child. Beth has found solace with two friends, Isaiah and Noah, avoiding her mother’s squalid apartment and her mom’s violent boyfriend. When events lead to Beth’s arrest, her wealthy, retired baseball-pro uncle Scott takes custody of her, bringing her into Ryan’s orbit. Despite an inauspicious start, the two begin a secret romance in defiance of their families and friends, until circumstances lead to a crisis. McGarry incorporates the two main characters from her debut, Pushing the Limits (2012), Noah and Echo, and mirrors its approach. (The author plans a third book that will follow Isaiah.) At first, readers may find Beth’s story the more compelling, but as Ryan’s too-perfect-to-be-true, community-leader family and controlling father reveal themselves, both characters spring to life. As in the first book, these two protagonists differ on the surface but have many similarities under the skin.
Everything—setting, characters, romance—about this novel works and works well. (Fiction. 12 & up)