Taking Chances by Molly McAdams

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I went into this book fully unaware, with no expectations other than the idea there would be a love triangle, as tipped off by the cover. In the beginning, 18 year old Harper is as naïve as naïve can be. She was homeschooled, had always lived on base with her Marine father a (who she calls Sir and has no connections too) and her best friend John Carter, and dresses in only men’s cloths. In fact, she is the epitome of a virgin when she arrives in San Diego, to attend UCSD. With the help of her roommate and newfound best friend Breanna, she quickly revamps her wardrobe and begins to work on her image.

When Harper meets Chase, he is immediately drawn to her, but realizes he is, in his own head, not worthy of her due to his manwhoreing. Though there is an immediate and intense reaction between the two, but they do everything they can to avoid and pretend this draw does not exist.
Shortly after meeting Chase, Harper also meets Brandon, who quickly becomes her boyfriend. They fall in love fast and firm. Here is where I begin to have some issues. Brandon is a MMA fighter for the underground fight scene, but he seems to have little personality. He is whatever Harper needs him to be. He is weak in a way that he has no real backbone. He does have some anger issues with Chase, as he sees the intense connection both Harper and Chase himself are trying to deny. Everyone seems to fall in love with innocent little Harper.
Brandon and Harper date and live with each other nearly right away, yet Harper still is hesitant taking the relationship to the next level, physically. Also, Harper and Chase still cannot deny their feelings. They try not to speak but fail repeatedly. When Brandon and Harper return to his family for Christmas, and she comes home early to be with Chase and Breanna’s family (whom she calls mom and dad), things fall apart and Harper makes the a terrible decision which causes her to leave Brandon and be with Chase. She loves, according to her, both of them intensely.
The major problem I have comes from Harper’s ultimate decision followed by the reactions of both men’s families to the climactic event of the book. It seems that no matter how much Harper messes up, and how much everyone should be grieving, they give her the benefit of the doubt too much. I cannot believe that in the situation that occurs, any family would react as these two did. It really bothered me. I also have a problem with the way the threesome ending was handled. It felt like a copout. I really was bothered by the way the families reacted and how there never really seemed to be consequences for Harper. To Brandon, to the families, she could do no wrong. It rubbed me wrong. It also felt rushed towards the last 25% of the book.
Molly McAdam’s is a masterful writer. She breathes life into each moment and makes you feel the torment of the characters, specifically poor Chase and Brandon, being dragged back and forth by a flighty Harper. The problem is the solutions McAdam’s offers seem so far reached that I could not even begin to believe they would ever occur. I also felt that characters were built solely to please a naïve girl, someone that fit every dream this character would need or want in her situation at 18.
Overall, it was a hard read for me as I couldn’t get past my disbelief in the end. It was incredibly well written and creative; it just did not work for me. If you can suspend your reactions and have an affinity for a love triangle, I say you should still read this as it is beautiful, it just wasn’t something I could lose myself in.

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