My Booklandia

My Booklandia

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

RELEASE DAY REVIEW: Furious Rush by S.C. Stephens

Title: Furious Rush
Author: S.C. Stephens
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: August 23, 2016 

Too fast, too furious-and way too hot to handle . . .

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...

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It felt like forever, but finally it was time to race. With the sighting and warm-up lap completed, the group of us were all lined up in our grid boxes. This was it, my first official race as a professional. My heart started pumping hard, and my breath sped up. Dad was expecting a lot from me; I needed to be amazing today. Trying to control the adrenaline—control myself—I took a deep breath in, held it, then let it out in ten long counts. It helped. Somewhat.

I’d had a really good qualifying round, and I was sitting in the tenth position. Hayden was a few spots in front of me, one position below Myles. Focusing on him relieved some of the pressure I was feeling, but it irritated me that I hadn’t bested his time. I consoled myself by keeping in mind that it was the actual race that mattered, not the qualifier. As soon as possible, I was going to slip around Hayden and stay in front of him. My backside was all he was going to see all race long. I hoped.

No, I could do this. One of the greatest things about a new season was the fact that everyone started over, which meant a rookie like me had as much of a chance to win as a seasoned pro who’d won five times in a row. All I had to do was stay focused, stay calm… stay in control…Please let me get a win today.

Heat waves rose from the pavement, making the ground before me seem to shimmer, like I was hallucinating or something. This was real, though, and my lifelong dream of competing at Daytona was about to come true. Knowing I only had a second or two until the bank of red lights shifted to green, signaling the beginning of the race, I flashed a glance at Hayden. Surprisingly, his black-and-red helmet was focused back in my direction, not straight ahead like everyone else’s. Why was he staring at me like I was the starting line, like I was the prize? I was no prize for him to win.

I was just about to point a finger in the direction Hayden should be looking when he suddenly nodded his helmet and peeled out. As he streaked away from me, it took me a second to realize the race had begun, and everyone was moving… everyone but me. Spitting out a vile curse, I hurried after the pack. G**damn Hayden Hayes.

Thanks to my delayed reaction, I ended up leaving the grid closer to the back of the group than I’d wanted to be. I noticed a familiar bike streak past me—Jimmy the traitor—and wondered why he was so far back in the starting line. As I picked up speed and sailed past riders, I forced myself to remain calm, in control. This was an endurance race, the only endurance event in the series, and in preparation for this day, I had specifically trained for distance: countless times around the track, endless laps in the pool, hours of surfing wave after wave, and miles on the treadmill. I’d taken my father’s advice to heart, and I was in tip-top shape; I was ready for this.

Ignoring everything around me, I focused on the roar of the bike, the vibration of the engine connecting me to the rhythm of the road, and only let one thought permeate my brain—Find Hayden. Fear and worry melted away as every molecule in my body dialed in on absolute concentration. The sound of my breath echoed inside my helmet, mixing with the rush of air from the vents, while the near-nauseating blur of movement in my peripheral vision amplified as I accelerated to exhilarating speeds. God, I loved this.

My motorcycle was top-of-the-line and perfectly crafted for me. Almost as if it were alive and could sense my wishes, it responded to my every command. It took me mere seconds to find the sweet spot on the bike for straightaways—low and light, tucked in for optimum aerodynamics, the peak placement for efficiency and speed—and before I knew it, I was zooming past other racers like they were standing still.

Unlike in car racing, the track curved both left and right, adding to the difficulty. I had to concentrate on the now but maintain a keen awareness of the future. The turns were tight and deep, with my body hanging off the bike and my knee and elbow hovering just inches above the concrete that was ripping past me at breakneck speeds. One wrong move and I’d disrupt the bike’s balance, sending me and the motorcycle skidding across the track.

I kept the back of Hayden’s bike in my crosshairs as I blurred past other racers. There were more than forty of us in this fifty-seven-lap race today, but only one rider mattered to me right now. When I finally gained position so that I was right beside Hayden, my thighs were throbbing from keeping my muscles tense and tight for so long. I embraced the pain as I tossed a victorious glance his way. You tried to delay me, but I caught up to you, a**hole.

As if he felt my glare, he flashed a glance my way. Then he did a double take. I nodded my helmet up in the same arrogant way he had at the start of the race. Hayden hunched over his bike and, amazingly, found some acceleration. I frowned as he pulled directly in front of me. Oh no, not today, Hayes.

Shifting my weight, I pressed for speed. Some part of my consciousness was aware of the racers we were passing, of the laps that were accumulating, but the bulk of my concentration was purely on Hayden. For a moment, everything else slipped away, and following his path was my only focus. I hated to admit it, but chasing him gave me a rush. You’re going down. Whatever it takes, I’ve got you.

I could tell by the feel of my bike that I needed to head to the pit soon. I wasn’t about to go in before Hayden, though. I was physically incapable of leaving the course while he was still on it. Luckily for me, Hayden was due too, and after two more laps, he pulled into the pit lane.

As I rolled to a stop in my stall, my crew was already on their way to me with fresh tires and much-needed fuel. While they worked on my bike, my father approached me. “Keep it together, Mackenzie. This is where you tend to slack off.”

One of the crew gave me a thumbs-up that my bike was done, and I tossed out, “I know, Dad!” Not wasting any time, I started the bike and sped away. Jesus. That was really not the kind of encouragement I needed right now. How about “You’re doing great” or “You’ve got this”? That would have been much better than being reminded that even with all my training, the last part of the race was still a struggle for me.

Hayden had a really quick pit stop, and ended up pulling out right in front of me. Much to my annoyance, his rear was, once again, the focal point of my view. Shifting to look back at me, he lifted off his seat for a second, showing off the backside women fawned over. Then he gave himself a quick smack in the ass. Cute. Jerk.

Right before we reentered the track, I looked over at the boards. In the thick of racing, the other riders on the course had almost slipped my mind—Hayden was the only one I cared about—but I was curious where everyone was currently sitting in the event. I nearly stalled the bike when I spotted my number. I was right below Hayden. We were duking it out for fourth and fifth place. If I could hold on, I could easily finish in the top ten, and that was a record on this track for a female rider.

Pushing aside the potential history I could be making today, I refocused my attention on Hayden. Triumphing over him was enough to think about right now.

Lap after lap, I did my best to skirt around him, but as if he had a sixth sense for my location, he maneuvered his bike in such a way that I couldn’t slip by him. It was as infuriating as it was invigorating, and I knew that my inevitable win would be that much sweeter because of the challenge. And then, finally, on the very last lap, he made a fatal mistake: he left me an opening.

He was taking the turns slightly tighter than before, and there was a decent amount of room between him and the outside of the corner. If I increased my speed instead of easing up on my acceleration, I could scoot around him. It was risky. I would be going way too fast for the curve, and then I would need to hit it even harder after the turn, or else Hayden would just accelerate from the inside and cut me off. Staying full throttle like that, I could easily lose control of the bike and slide out. It was my only chance, though. Victory wasn’t for the faint of heart.

Halfway through the lap, as we approached the last hairpin corner, Hayden slowed as he set his body up for the turn. My heart started to race as I went against my natural instinct and increased my speed. My head was screaming that I was being stupid, that I should be braking as I swung my knee into position, but it was too late for me to listen to reason. I could finish in fourth place if I moved around him. Fourth! It was a too great a temptation to resist.

Committing myself to the action, I edged past Hayden in the space he’d left open. Praying that my bike stayed on the track and that I stayed on my bike, I leaned into the corner, slightly increasing my speed. Everything was exactly how it should be: My body was perfectly balanced as I hung off the inside of the bike, my tires were holding in the sweet spot, and the road was rushing beneath me like an asphalt river; it was so close, I could reach down with my hand and stroke the smooth surface with my gloved fingers if I wanted to. But then…I passed the point of no return, slipped over the razor-thin line of control. Before I could make a correction, I felt the bike’s weight shift, felt the tires lose traction and position, and saw the raging river of concrete rushing up to greet me.

My bike fell onto its side, pinning my leg to the ground. My shoulder, arm, and hand quickly followed suit. The blow stunned me, but luckily my leathers absorbed a lot of the impact, and, even more important, they absorbed the friction from the road; without them, my skin would have been ripped to shreds. The momentum of the bike dragged me toward the outside wall. I had just enough time to see it coming before I smacked right into it. The breath left my body and my vision hazed to black. No…I could not afford to pass out right now.

When I stopped moving, I blinked rapidly, trying to reboot my body back to alertness; I didn’t have time to fall into the oblivion of unconsciousness. Even now, rider after rider was passing me, taking my hard-earned spot. Feeling nauseated, I gathered up every ounce of willpower I had and forced myself to stand, forced my shaky limbs to right the bike. I was dazed and a little delirious; it took an enormous amount of concentration just to point my bike in the right direction. My limbs felt on fire, I tasted the tang of blood in my mouth, and my entire leg was throbbing. Ignoring the physical pain and the pair of corner officials asking me if I needed help, I restarted the bike and made myself complete the damn race. Hayden was not crossing the finish line without me.

Lia's Review

S.C. Stephens has been on my must buy list ever since Kellan Kyle stole my angst-loving heart and ran away with it. While I was sad to say goodbye to the D-Bags and their world, I was equally excited to see what this new racing world would have in store. 

So Hayden Hayes, he's hot, he's sexy and he's dangerous. What's a good girl, people pleaser and daddy's little girl going to do when she gets mixed up in a world that's dangerous and could wipe out everything she's worked for in her racing career? Fall, and fall hard. 

While Furious Rush didn't have the level of angst and tummy flutters I experienced with Stephens' previous series, this one was a pretty good first out. I'm assuming there's more coming from Kenzie and Hayden only because it was left off on a teeny tiny cliffhanger. Really, it was minor. More like a Happily for Now ending. 

I liked Furious Rush but I didn't love it. I'm definitely going to be waiting to read the next book to see if S.C. can bring back some of the vibe the Thoughtless series had. Kellan Kyle is a hard act to follow and I'm hoping Hayden Hayes can compete. 

~ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Stars

About the Author:
S.C. Stephens is a bestselling author who enjoys spending every free moment she has creating stories that are packed with emotion and heavy on romance. 

Her debut novel, Thoughtless, an angst-filled love triangle charged with insurmountable passion and the unforgettable Kellan Kyle, took the literary world by storm. Amazed and surprised by the response to the release of Thoughtless in 2009, more stories were quick to follow. Stephens has been writing nonstop ever since.

In addition to writing, Stephens enjoys spending lazy afternoons in the sun reading fabulous novels, loading up her iPod with writer’s block reducing music, heading out to the movies, and spending quality time with her friends and family. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her two equally beautiful children.

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