Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Book review - She's Got A Way by Maggie McGinnis

Just another brilliant story by Maggie McGinnis. If you’ve yet to discover the author or the Echo Lake series, She’s Got A Way is a perfect pick. Although this is book three in said series, the story totally works as a standalone, and no previous knowledge of setting or characters is required. 

I truly adored this book, and it caught me by surprise because I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was so much more than I would’ve thought, even though the author is one of my favorites so I had little doubt about whether or not I’d like it. But well, great job, Mrs. McGinnis! You left me slightly speechless this time. The settings alone made me want to pack up my bags and go camping myself. It was hard to put down the book and return to reality!

When Gabriela O’Brien is forced to spend the summer in a rundown camping resort in the middle of the woods, as a punishment for her four students’ latest stunt, little does she know that the camp is not exactly up to the standards her Briarwood boarding school students are used to. Coming from a rich family herself and having spent most of her life in the same boarding school, having to sleep in a tent in woods, with wildlife sneaking inside it at night, isn’t exactly how she’d envisioned her summer. Not to mention, the four teenagers’ attitude that’s driving her crazy.

Luke Magellan was a troubled kid, going from foster home to foster home until he was rescued by Oliver, the director of Camp Echo. Thanks to his trust, Luke made a life for himself and he’s been helping troubled kids ever since. But now that Camp Echo has been acquired by Briarwood boarding school, he’s afraid his mission will soon go to waste, as soon as it becomes clear that the wealthy school is planning to turn the rundown camp into some sort of high-profile summer resort for their students. So when the good-looking housemother shows up in the Briarwood van with four grumpy teenagers in tow, he braces himself for four weeks in hell.

When he caught sight of the woman stepping out, though, he stopped short. This was no steely-haired old bird in a flowered dress. No. She had sleek, dark hair, a wrist full of gold bangles, and curves in all the right places. He blinked, then peered into the backseat, searching for the housemother. Had Briarwood sent them with a hottie driver?

And then there are four rebellious teenagers who are used to a cushy life and end up having to set up a tent, use the freezing cold lake water as their personal shower and have no access to any of the amenities they’re used to. Well, Luke and Gabriela have their work cut out for them as they’ll have to figure out how to keep the girls in the camp for four, excruciatingly long weeks…

This turned out to be one of the funniest, most entertaining, and most romantic stories I’ve read in months—if not ever. If I could give it ten stars, I would! I can’t quite pinpoint what exactly made me love this book so much because, truth be told, there isn’t a single chapter, scene or even paragraph I didn’t like. You know when you just “feel” a book? When it hooks you from the very beginning and the more you read, the more involved you become with the story and the characters? This was it for me. This book pulled me in from the first page and held me captive in Camp Echo until the last page—and even then, I didn’t really feel like leaving at all.

Luke is a dreamy hero, the tall, dark and terribly handsome man every woman in her right state of mind would want to call her own—I most definitely would. In spite of his troubled past, he managed to pull himself together and do something useful with his life, and when he tried to act all humble around Gabriela, to give her time to adjust and decide how to manage the girls in such a new environment, he was simply adorable!

Gabriela is very easy to like; she’s down-to-earth, despite her wealthy childhood, and her determination to help her students succeed is admirable. I even liked her stubbornness when she tried to do everything without needing Luke’s help. She’s a heroine you can’t help but like and root for. 

Yes, she watched rom-coms every weekend. Yes, she loved the whole knight-in-shining-armor shtick, just like the rest of Hollywood's target audience. But she didn't need one. She'd figure this out. 

The four girls are hilarious, and probably the thread that keeps the whole story together and keeps it moving at an entertaining pace. At first, they come off as your usual spoiled brats who can’t even contemplate living in a place where there’s not even a toilet. The fact they can’t stand one another and keep bickering gives the reader a clue about what to expect—I mean, come on, you put four rich girls together and leave them to build a tent and learn how to build an actual bathroom: wouldn’t it spell disaster? Yeah, just a little—but it’s the hilarious kind. As much as I rooted for Luke and Gabi to get their happy ever after, I couldn’t help rooting just as much for the girls. 

Waverly wagged a finger. "What happens at camp stays at camp. No one will know we got excited about toilets, understand?" She turned a slow circle, pointing at each of the other girls, and Gabi and Luke laughed. 

You could say there’s an enormous amount of character growth in this book, for all the characters involved. And it’s something that left me with a broad grin at the end of the book and, as usual with the books by this author, wanting a few more chapters just so I didn’t have to leave Camp Echo and these new, fictional friends whose stories and adventures made me laugh, swoon, hold my breath and truly warmed my heart.

Once again Maggie McGinnis has crafted a beautiful, awfully romantic and funny story that will keep you turning page after page, with a smile on your face and fuzzy feelings.

If you’ve yet to discover the Echo Lake series, please do yourself a favor and pick up this book. If you like heart-warming romance, this is it—at its best.

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