3.5 stars I wondered what it would be like to see the dark blue sky above us not as heavy drapes of cloth, the top of a circus tent, but as an infinite expanse. As everybody else saw it. In Going Too Far, Jennifer Echols has crafted a compelling story about the connection between two characters who are, in some ways, the very antithesis of each other. Meg won’t be tied down, literally. Resistant to plans, authority, confined spaces – she combats restrictions and small-town claustrophobia with plans to go away to college and avoidance of emotional entanglements. John After lives within his carefully constructed defences, refusing to be left exposed and vulnerable. A law-enforcer, a rule-abider, Officer After is guarded and cautious. He is the practiced restraint to Meg’s reckless abandon. Going Too Far is an incredibly engaging read. The chemistry between Meg and John is intense and volatile, the story becoming increasingly charged with each page. The interactions between the characters spark with the friction of conflict and attraction. Add to this the enforced distance of the situation that throws them together, and the plot is heavy with anticipation. Sexual tension aside, it is also an honestly expressed portrayal of what it is to let go, to trust, to be hurt and to hurt someone else. In this respect, Echols has created realistic characters, with flaws and strengths, each contending with their own internal issues. Importantly, whether their actions are sympathetic or not, they act like teenagers: perhaps not always defensible, but mostly understandable. This was my first Echols novel, and I was impressed with the fluid writing and her deft hand with dialogue, particularly with Meg’s snarky, self-deprecating humour. What’s unimpressive about this book is the distinctly horrid cover. Please don’t let that fool you about what’s inside. While a major selling point is clearly the romance aspect, there was also greater substance here than I was expecting, in the exploration of Meg and John as nuanced individuals.Going Too Far ended up being not quite what I had expected, in a good way. Somewhat surprising, definitely engaging, and highly enjoyed.