Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Review: Furious Rush by S.C. Stephens

Title: Furious Rush
Author: S.C. Stephens
Release Date: August 23
Cliffhanger: No
Rating: 2.5 stars


Mackenzie Cox has a lot to prove. Daughter of a racing legend, she is eager to show the world that she has inherited her father's talent in the male-dominated sport of professional motorcycle racing. The last thing Kenzie needs is to be antagonized by her rival team's newest rider, Hayden Hayes. Plucked from the world of illegal street racing, Hayden immediately gets under Kenzie's skin. His insinuations that Kenzie is a spoiled princess who was handed her career fuels her desire to win, and much to her surprise, Kenzie soon learns she performs better when she's racing against Hayden.

As Kenzie and Hayden push each other on the track, the electric energy between them off the track shifts into an intense--and strictly forbidden--attraction. The only rule between their two ultra-competitive teams is zero contact. Kenzie always does her best to play by the rules, but when her team slips into a financial crisis, she has no choice but to turn to Hayden for help. The tension simmers during their secret, late-night rendezvous, but Kenzie has too much to lose to give in to her desires. Especially when she begins to doubt that Hayden has completely left his street life behind...

When I saw that there was a book coming out set in the racing world, I was immediately drawn in and excited to check it out. I feel like this is a setting with untapped potential, you just don't see that many quality books about racers. The synopsis intrigued me-daughter of a racing legend goes head to head with a street racer on the track. Rivalry and competitiveness flare, then to top it off we have a forbidden romance thrown in to boot? There's plenty of hope there for a riveting read.

Unfortunately for me, I didn't end up feeling as enthusiastic for the story when my expectations met with reality. I wanted to love this one and tried really hard to overlook things. But there were just too many issues that cropped up that detracted from my enjoyment. There were some pieces of the story that I really appreciated, mostly the racing scenes between Kenzie and Hayden. I actually really loved seeing them face off on the track and see their energy feed off of each other.

For some reason that I didn't fully understand, Hayden was my center. I needed him to maintain my balance, and without him, I was lost.

Our heroine Kenzie is one tough woman. On paper, she has all the characteristics in a heroine that I favor. She's strong, independent, works in a male-dominated field and isn't a pushover. I loved her strength of character and her strong loyalty to her family. However, from the very first interactions between her and Hayden, she rubbed me the wrong way. And honestly, I can't say I warmed up much to her throughout the book at all.

When she meets Hayden at an illegal street race, she immediately snubs him and sneers at his participation in such a dangerous sport. I can't argue that what he's doing is reckless, but her judgement and disrespect of him for trying to work his way to what she had handed to her put me off. She's the daughter of a racing legend and her father paved the way for her to follow her dreams. She had opportunities that he never had, and her continued attitude toward him was confrontational and bitchy even when he was trying to reach out and help her.

Lifting my jaw as I refocused my resolve, I told him, "I'm a grown woman, a daughter of a legend, and I don't need your help. Now give me back my phone."

It got to be too much how she constantly treated him, it came off as so bratty and immature. I did understand what she was up against, and it was considerable. Living in her father's shadow has her desperate to break the mold and prove to everyone she has what it takes. And it doesn't help that her father's lack of acceptance causes her confidence to take a major hit.

How the hell was I supposed to stand a chance at succeeding when the bar was already set on the top rung?

When Hayden suddenly enters the professional racing circuit, and more specifically their rival team, she grows an even deeper dislike of him. The Cox and Bennetti teams share the same practice track, but a long standing feud keeps the tension always on the verge of snapping. This hatred her father held for Hayden's team makes her resistance to him even stronger. Despite her immediate attraction, there were too many factors that made even a friendship with him impossible. Her career, her family's financial problems, and finally earning her father's respect all hinged on her keeping her focus on one thing: winning.

Hayden was the complete opposite of Kenzie. He was the rebel, the rule breaker, and I really loved that edge he had.

"I never said rules were stupid, sweetheart. If there were no rules...well, then, it would be impossible for me to break them, wouldn't it?"

He's willing to break any law or push through any obstacle to reach his end goal. He has hidden motivations throughout the book, always keeping you guessing whether or not he was completely trustworthy. The seeds of doubt are constantly being planted when accidents and bad luck plague the drivers. It adds a little layer of mystery to the story, which I liked.

There was a lot of push and pull between the h/H, that caused the tension and angst to build to soaring levels. They had some incredible chemistry arcing off of each other. With every step forward they took, Kenzie took two steps back. The fear of discovery and ruin kept her from admitting her true feelings, even to herself. Just when you think she's going to own up to what was between them, she was reminded of everything she had to lose. It was a dance that kept me spinning in circles with them. At some point, she needed to prove to him that he mattered to her, and I wanted it to happen earlier than it did.

Just a warning, the ending is very abrupt. There is no series listed for this book, but the way things are left off, it's pretty clear there's more of the story to be told. It's not what I'd call a cliffhanger, but there are things that need to be resolved. Overall, I enjoyed the idea of the story, it had great potential. I liked the forbidden element and the racing scenes, but I needed more from the heroine to feel fully connected to their romance. Her abrasive attitude put me off quite a bit. I still think fans of S.C. Stephens will enjoy Furious Rush, it was a unique story with two complex main characters. You may feel completely different than this as me and not be bothered at all by my own personal issues.


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