All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Going Too Far – Jennifer Echols

on October 30, 2010

Ok I think I might have a little bit of a writer/girl crush on Jennifer Echols. I’ve read four of her books in a very short period of time recently and although Forget You is my favourite, this one, Going Too Far comes pretty close.

Meg is 17 and a few months off graduating and getting the heck out of her small town and going to University. She’s reckless, indulging in enough outrageous behaviour that her father has washed his hands of her and has pretty much ordered her mother to do the same thing. One night before Spring Break, before Meg gets to go down to Florida and see the beach, her and her “boyfriend” Eric and two friends of theirs decide to go up to the railroad tracks where a young girl and her boyfriend were killed several years ago after they couldn’t outrun the train. They are arrested by the local conscientious police officer and taken to the station. Eric’s rich lawyer father bails him out and the parents of her friends, Brian and Tiffany, come to collect their respective children. But no one comes for Meg. Her parents are done bailing her out after her reckless behaviour and it’s up to the police despatcher to take her home after a night in the police station.

As punishment, the officer that arrested them recommends that the kids be forced to spend a week on the nightshift with the people that had to be called out to the railway bridge because of their reckless behaviour: the police themselves, the fire department and the paramedics. As predicted, Eric’s rich laywer father gets him out of this punishment and it’s up to Meg, Bryan and Tiffany to fill the three spots. To Meg’s dismay, she draws the police squad car for her punishment – and the humourless police officer who arrested her.

Eventually Meg comes to realise that this Officer isn’t quite what she imagined. He’s not as old as she thought she was, nor is he as humourless. Officer John After is only 19 and graduated one year ahead of Meg from her high school. He’s changed a little since then – about 20lbs of muscle mostly and a no-nonsense buzzcut. He’s dedicated to protecting the citizens of their small town from the dangers of the railroad bridge and he’s dedicated to making silly teenagers like Meg wake up a bit and realise that their lives are too good to waste drinking too much, taking drugs and sleeping with deadbeats like Eric. Although they have many differing opinions, and argue about pretty much everything, Meg and Officer After come to realise that there’s a little bit more to each other than meets the eye. As they spend that week together on graveyard shift in the squad car, they are both falling in love. But both of them want very, very different things out of life. Meg wants nothing but to get out of this town and never come back. John chose to come back and work as an Officer in this town and he doesn’t want to leave.

Firstly, Meg was quite an interesting character. Unashamedly breaking the law and happy to do it with underage drinking, drug taking, trespassing, etc she made no apologies for her behaviour. You got the idea early on that there was more to her attitude that simply a teenager just acting out of boredom but the reveal is still beautifully done and brings a clarity to her claustrophobia and her addiction to running. John too has his demons, also foreshadowed but still as shocking. They circle each other, getting to know each other, learning things about the other, hurting each other (mostly Meg looking to “stab John in soft spots”) and the attraction between them and the connection, is sizzling.

That is what I love about Jennifer Echols books. The attraction, the bond, she can create between her male and female leads. It was scintillating in Forget You and the chemistry in this one is just as strong. Her emphasis is on strong, mature, generous and multi-layered male love interests who balance out the often troubled and needy female protagonists. Both Zoey in Forget You and Meg in Going Too Far have secrets they are keeping, hidden issues that are affecting their judgement and colouring the choices they make, some of which are often bad for them. In contrast, both Doug and Officer After, although they have their own demons, are the more stable characters, more ‘grown up’ and more open. They provide support and stability. This could easily go over as ‘macho male characters making decisions for weaker female characters’ but it doesn’t. Echols has a good balance of just how much support and reasoning the male love interests can provide without crossing over into taking over territory. She also gets the balance right of giving them just enough vulnerability to make them human without making them laughable or too good to be true. Well okay, they might be too good to be true…but a reader can dream. And part of reading romantic fiction is the dreaming!

I might be in the minority here (and I probably am, as a lot of people love conflict in their romantic fiction) but I could read novels of couples that have the wonderful bond and chemistry, like the couples in Jennifer Echols novels, just… being themselves. Just being together and living their lives and expressing the way they feel about each other. I’m a sucker for a couple that speaks to me and Jennifer Echols creates couples that speak to me. I have two novels of hers left to read to tide me over until July of 2011. I’m not sure that’s going to work.


Book #85 of my 100 Book Challege

6 responses to “Going Too Far – Jennifer Echols

  1. Marg says:

    I have seen Jennifer Echols books around, but have never read one. Your review definitely did it’s job in bringing me to want to read her more!

  2. […] it a mission to acquire all the rest of Jennifer Echols’ novels. I’ve already read and reviewed Going Too Far and I’m about to start The Boys Next […]

  3. Autumn Rivers says:

    omg! i loved going too far sooo much! the first time i read it i finished it in about 5 hours. i was just reading and reading and i couldnt put the book down. thats quite unusual for me because I hate reading. This book was AMAZING! You’re an incredible writter Jennifer! I’ve already read it twice in the two weeks i’ve had the book from the library. I may even re-check it out after i finish it for my English project! 🙂 Most definitely recommended to read by me!

  4. raven says:

    i have never read this book before or even heard abou this writer before.
    my friends are the ones who got me thinking i should read some by her. this preview got me really wanting this book badly now. after i will have to check out Forget You.
    great preview by the way

  5. […] Going Too Far, by Jennifer Echols. Another contemporary romance favourite of mine. Echols effortlessly switches roles here, making the female protagonist a bit of a rebellious mess and the male love interest straight laced and steady (a cop no less, but still not without his own issues). Their journey from resentment to love is one that never fails to move me. I’ve re-read this one many times. […]

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