Book Review: ‘Nowhere But Here’ by Katie McGarry

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Nowhere But Here | Katie McGarry | Thunder Road #1 | Pub Date: May 26, 2015

I should start off by saying that I love Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits series. The sizzling chemistry, dramatic situations, and interesting characters always manage to thoroughly entertain me. Now, she’s starting a new series, Thunder Road, revolving around a motorcycle club that’s more about family and protection than organized crime. I was really looking forward it because McGarry has proven time and time again that she can write a bad boy (or girl) very well. She definitely does that with the first Thunder Road novel, Nowhere But Here. We become as enthralled with soon-to-be Reign of Terror member, Oz, as does Emily. However, I found myself a bit put-off by this motorcycle club backdrop because I feel it shifts the power dynamics of the main couple more in favor of Oz than Emily.

After a traumatizing incident as a child, Emily always makes the safe choice. She likes to be sheltered, never thinking about taking a risk or doing anything new or different. She grew up in a safe neighborhood, went to a great school, and was raised by a loving mom and stepdad. She fits right into that kind of life, no question. Until a tragedy strikes her biological dad’s family, forcing her to confront a family and life she always disregarded. Soon she realizes that everything isn’t quite what it seems, as she begins to meet her dad’s family and friends, who all live in a small town and are part of the motorcycle club called the Reign of Terror. She learns that despite their appearances and crudeness, they’re good people, who care and protect each other.

Things get a complicated when a rival club hears of Emily’s existence, and Oz is assigned as her bodyguard. Oz can’t wait to formally join the club and definitely wants to make a good impression to club’s leaders by protecting Emily. When he starts forming feelings for her, he knows he has to hide them or face the wrath of Emily’s father.

Nowhere But Here is a lengthy read. We’re introduced to this new community of people, and it takes a while to fully understand how Reign of Terror functions because these people seriously like keeping secrets. I suppose that was my favorite part of the book, watching Emily discover every new secret and learning something new about her past, her family, and herself. Many of Katie McGarry’s books have a “coming-of-age” element to them, but this one felt the most like a coming of age story than just purely a romantic one. Yes, the romance plays a big part in the story, but it’s actually Emily’s transition from being scared to becoming brave that ultimately pulls you through the story.

Oz is a prime example of someone who has the potential for more, but his idealistic view on club life is making him blind to his other options. He’s a total opposite from Emily, who at first despises the club, while he worships it. The “opposites attract” thing usually works for me, but it took me awhile to cozy up to this couple. I was much more fascinated by them individually rather than as a couple. Since romance is like the root of these novels, that wasn’t a good sign.

What really held me back from loving this novel was the club culture. Granted, the motorcycle club portrayed in the novel was a crime-free one. Still, I didn’t like how the men and women of the club weren’t treated equally. Whether or not it’s a realistic portrayal, I can’t tell you, but the feminist in me couldn’t help but be a bit peeved by how some of the men talked or acted in regards to women. The overprotectiveness was just a bit too much, and keeping Emily in dark for so long got annoying after a while. Regardless of my personal feelings, I do have to credit McGarry for at least writing a couple strong female characters, like Emily’s grandmother and Oz’s mother.

While the club backdrop wasn’t quite my forte, this is a solid start of a new series for McGarry. I’m not sold on it yet, but I’m willing to give it another chance.

Rating: 6/10

Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry is on sale May 26, 2015.

Gabrielle is 27 years old and lives in Chicago. She enjoys writing about film, TV, and books, but occasionally writes about music as well. In addition to writing for TheYoungFolks.com, she also the editor-in-chief and a co-founder. In her spare time, she’s either watching more movies and shows or reading more books, while continuously checking Twitter, which she may or may not be addicted to… Feel free to email her your thoughts, ideas and questions.