Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry
Series: Thunder Road #1
Published by Harlequin Teen
Published on May 26th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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An unforgettable new series from acclaimed author Katie McGarry about taking risks, opening your heart and ending up in a place you never imagined possible.
Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.
Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club's most respected member—is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dream. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.
No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.
I’m a massive fan of Katie McGarry. She writes wonderful YA romantic drama, and when I heard that she was starting a new series featuring the younger generation of a motorcycle club, I knew I had to read it. I was nervous, because [book:Pushing the Limits|10194514] is one of my all-time favourite reads, and I didn’t want to unfairly compare this book to my obsession with Noah and Echo, but Katie has given us something original, exciting and completely engaging. The story is profound, it’s fun, it’s heart-achingly emotional, and the romance is beautiful. I was hooked from the very first page and devoured it, loving every moment.
17 year old Emily is a good girl. Sweet and mostly innocent, she has a great life, she does well at school, and she has a loving family that she loves in return. The man she calls her Dad adopted her when she was 5, when he married her mother. Her real father, Eli, is part of an MC, and she was told that he left her mother when she was pregnant. She sees Eli once a year when he comes to visit her, and while she is curious about him and his lifestyle, she doesn’t want to upset her parents with questions, so she’s content to take it as it is.
But when an unexpected visit to see Eli in his home town puts Emily in danger from a rival MC, she needs to be protected, and the safest place for her is with her father’s club – Reign of Terror. And so, a quick visit turns into a summer to be spent with a family and a life that she has never known. Very quickly, Emily discovers that what she has been told about her past isn’t the whole truth. There’s a secret that everybody is keeping from her, and she is determined to figure out what really happened between her mother and Eli, and what that means for her.
The story is set at very tame end of the MC world. The club is legit, and do not engage in criminal activity. It’s a family, but a family with strict rules, and an MC ethos. They’re all about respect and integrity with a security business on the side. And being a part of the club is all 18 year old Oz has ever wanted.
“All that TV bull about how anyone who rides a bike is a felon – they don’t understand what the club stands for. The club is a brotherhood, a family. It means belonging to something bigger than yourself.”
Oz was raised within the club. His father is a member and Eli and his family were his mentors growing up, and remain the people that he is closest to. He wants nothing more than to join the MC, and when he is put on protection duty for Eli’s reluctantly returned daughter, he knows it’s his final challenge before membership – so that means he is by her side 24/7.
From the very beginning, I loved the dynamic between Emily and Oz. The story is written in dual POV, so we get to see everything that is going on with them, and I adored them both! Of course, they are both attracted to each other, but Emily initially wants nothing to do with the gorgeous bad boy from the MC, and Oz is mad at her for rejecting the family and the life that he loves. The fact that both of them are frustrated with the simmering chemistry between them just makes it so much better.
I will her to look away, but she doesn’t and I’m secretly proud the girl won’t back down. I hate this connection. I crave this connection. She’s continually messing with my head.
Their enforced time together leads to them getting to know each other and as Emily opens up to Oz, he helps her learn about his life, and by extension – her family. She begins to accept that everything she thought about these people may not be true. And as they begin to understand each other, their early antagonism slowly becomes a friendship. And as Emily tries to unravel her past, Oz is there with her. He’s working towards the only future he has ever thought about, so his loyalty is very much to the club, but the more he gets to know Emily, he begins to imagine other possibilities for the first time in his life, and his priorities begin to shift as they start to fall for each other.
“You’re beautiful,” I say, and the honesty of my words stings. “You’re beautiful inside and out. I like how you challenge me. I like how I can never figure out what you’re going to do or say. I like how we’ve thrown weird shit in your direction and you take it like a pro.”
I cup her face with one hand and caress her soft skin. “I like how you smile and how you laugh. I like how you love and defend your family and I like how you’re trying to love mine. I love how you trust. But mostly, Emily, I like how I feel when I’m around you.”
Shit. My heart bursts as the words tumble out. “I’m falling for you.”
This is an absolutely beautiful love story! Slow moving and natural, innocent yet passionate, I loved watching Emily and Oz open up to each other as their mad attraction become something incredibly deep.
Katie McGarry is a master at YA romantic drama, and she’s done a wonderful job with this story. I laughed, I cried, and I got completely swept up in this book. It’s almost 500 pages, but it certainly didn’t feel long or dragged out. There’s a lot going on, and the story is paced perfectly. The multiple storylines fit together brilliantly with family drama, mystery and romance all tied in with a sort of coming-of-age story as both Emily and Oz learn from all that they go through and find their way forward. And it all builds up to an intense climax that shocked me, and had me in tears
There’s a huge focus on family, and I love the way that the different aspects that were explored. It forms an incredibly important part of the story, and it adds a lot of depth and emotion. I also loved getting to know the characters that I am assuming will make up the rest of this series. The younger generation is a core group, and with at least three more books easily lined up already, I’m so excited to read more.
“Run as fast as you can, Emily.” Violet eyes me in a way that suggests she knows more than she should. “From what I’ve heard, some members of Oz’s club are okay with homicide.”
Emily stiffens beside me and my fingers flex on the steering wheel. I should have let Violet rot in the summer sun. She’s lying, but Emily isn’t aware of that. “You know that’s not true.”
Violet’s been hanging with those full-of-themselves snob kids at school who think the Terror is the devil’s playground. Can’t stop haters from hating, but it hurts like hell when one of our own begins to spew the lies.
–From NOWHERE BUT HERE
Oz, an eighteen-year-old main character from my newest young adult novel, NOWHERE BUT HERE, is definitely a bad boy.
He’s a child of the Reign of Terror Motorcycle Club. He rides a motorcycle, wears a black leather riding jacket and combat boots, carries a knife on his hip, doesn’t mind getting into a fight when the moment calls for someone to step in and he has a tendency to be a jerk when provoked, but he’s so much more than that.
But Oz has a hard time convincing people outside the club of this. Even though he’s a lifeguard during the summer, a referee for a little kids’ flag football team, and sits night after night at the bedside of the woman who is stricken with cancer, Oz is seen as a menace.
Oz fights the same perception that other members of the Reign of Terror Motorcycle Club face. The assumption that being a member of an MC makes one a thug, a gangster, a criminal.
What the world doesn’t understand? The majority of motorcycle clubs are legit clubs—meaning they don’t participate in illegal activities. They may play by their own rules, but they do their best to be law- abiding citizens.
How do I know this? I hung out with a motorcycle club to gain inspiration for my new Thunder Road series. I knew I couldn’t write books about teens being raised in this world unless I had firsthand understanding of what their lives might be like. And I learned that, yes, MCs are definitely rough and tumble and not for the faint of heart. With the club I hung out with, the parties are wild, their jokes and language often crude, but they are not the criminals that most people believe them to be.
One of the first things I was told by the president of the club’s chapter was that they don’t run guns, drugs or woman (translation: they don’t illegally sell guns, don’t deal drugs and aren’t involved in prostitution)— the three big illegal activities people assume MCs take part in.
During the course of my research, I met many of the club’s members. They were great guys who work normal jobs like the rest of us. I met mechanics and people in finance and factory workers and yes, I met people who were high up in the food chain in corporations. And a lot of the guys I met? They were veterans. They fought on foreign soil for the United States of America.
These men were fascinating and fun and had great, kind souls. They were rough and strong and loyal. They were a brotherhood and I respected them for that.
I also respected them when they asked for anonymity. They asked me not to name their club or use their real names. Because of the perception outsiders have of MCs, some members knew their jobs could be at risk if their membership became public knowledge. They knew that people would treat them differently. I heard stories of how someone’s decision to be in a legit MC had torn families apart and this made me terribly sad.
Oz, like the men I met over the course of my research, is so much more than the sum of people’s assumptions. Like the men I met, he is strong, loyal and loving.
But don’t take my word for it. Read NOWHERE BUT HERE and meet Oz for yourself. I hope you’ll fall for him every bit as much as I did.
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