Series: Thunder Road #1
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Published by Harlequin Teen on May 26, 2015
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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.
To be honest, YA Contemporary is one of my least favorite genres. I’m more of a “slay a dragon” rather than “Slay inner demons” kind of girl. But I do know that when I am in that rare mood to read a Contemporary, I can always count on Katie McGarry to deliver. I love her Pushing the Limits series, and while I didn’t love Nowhere But Here as much as those, it was still a great read.
Nowhere But Here follows our main girl Emily as she visits family she’d prefer never to see again, and subsequently begins unraveling her mysterious past. Along for the ride is Oz, a biker vying for a spot in the brotherhood headed up by Emily’s father and grandfather. And you guessed it, the two follow in love as they trudge through shenanigans (both of the dangerous and the steamy variety) that will help Emily understand where she came from.
I related to Emily almost 100%. She’s pretty normal, a good student, from a nice home, who would rather not spend time visiting the more dangerous side of her family. She has some PTSD to deal with, though it’s thankfully not the main conflict. She wasn’t overly whiny (except for maybe at the very beginning) and I appreciated that she was willing to take risks. A lot of times in YA contemporaries, the female protagonist complains all the time, or is depressed, or is rude to everyone, or deals with issues I can’t relate to at all. This wasn’t the case in Nowhere But Here, and I enjoyed getting to know Emily as she navigated her new relationships.
The foremost of those new relationships was her budding romance with Oz. I loved that Oz wasn’t some wounded, tragically tortured guy. Sure, he’s a biker, which says ‘bad boy’, but he’s pretty well adjusted, and while he has trouble seeing anything outside of the club, he’s got friends, family who loves him, he loves taking care of disabled kids (doesn’t he sound adorable?). I loved watching their relationship develop (nice slow build), and sure, there was sort of lust at first sight, but I felt like McGarry really spent a decent amount of time building a solid relationship for them.
Another big part of this book is Emily and her relationship with her father Eli, and her grandmother Olivia. There was a lot of tension here, that made a lot more sense once we got to the end (really enjoyed a good twist near the end). Eli doesn’t want to tell Emily anything about her past, and Olivia only gives her vague puzzle pieces for Emily to try to understand.
On top of all that, there was some action with a rival biker gang who was less legitimate (meaning, they engage in illegal activity) than Eli’s gang. So that added another dimension of tension, especially since they were out to get Emily (and Oz is forced to babysit her as a delicious consequence).
Nowhere But Here looks deep into the ties that bind a family together, and how secrets can destroy those ties. There’s plenty of romance (NO LOVE TRIANGLE HALLELUJAH!) and many sweet moments of familial reconciliation. If you enjoy Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits series, you’ll love Nowhere But Here.
A decent amount of language (including the F-word).
Romance Level: Make-out scenes; no graphic sex.