Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl and vice-versa. But the girl has a secret, and it’s a doozy.
Our girl, Sky is “not a normal teenager,” but really what’s normal nowadays? In Harmful Rush by Debra Doxer, Sky is busy finding her way as a new college student far from home, crushing on the hot guy on campus, catching the eye of the requisite bad boy, and trying to keep her hands to herself. The latter is easier said than done as the urge for human touch (get your head out of the gutter, as it’s not the carnal kind — that comes later, sort of) provides the rush she so needs, but can’t shouldn’t have.
I’m a fan of Doxer’s brand of new found love (check out Like Candy), and she doesn’t disappoint this time around. Sky and Dylan are the perfect couple. Their romance is sweet, and their connection is captivating. Imagine the perfect girl and the perfect guy making cute at the frat party and being the “It” couple on campus. It could be sickeningly sweet, but in Doxer’s hands it is not. I would have enjoyed being the third wheel in their relationship just to bask in their puppy love. But Doxer ups the ante and throws in a curveball conflict that serves to drive a wedge between the couple. It’s also Sky’s big, bad secret, one that drove her from her friends and her hometown. I don’t want to give away too much, but let’s say Sky should invest in some top quality gloves or at least be more careful.
Sky and Dylan appear to be on easy street when the always delightful bad boy, aka Shane, stirs things up. Shane has his agenda that throws Sky for a loop, making her question herself. She makes some decisions that in hindsight made too hastily. She does a favor for Dylan’s family which has unintended results and is also where Sky’s shine dimmed slightly. I’m all for personal growth, but please heroines, own your decisions, don’t blame your actions and their fallout on others. (Rant alert: shit happens, mistakes made, learn from them and move on). Sky’s mistakes are not that major, she is a do-gooder after all, but her dwelling on them in a total Debbie Downer way took the wind out her good girl sails. And as it was not the first time she made a judgment call that affected her friends you would think she would have learned from her first go-round.
Harmful Rush is part of a series but can be read as a standalone, which is how I came to read it. Doxer does a good job in providing enough backstory that continues the narrative without rehashing the entire series, which I appreciated. However, I found that when existing characters, Lucas and Raielle, show up deep in the third act it felt inorganic and forced. They serve as cleanup crew to the anticlimactic and anticipated ending and put everything in order for a tidy ending. The paranormal nature, so germane to this story, had so many possibilities that would have given it more grit and tension. Instead, there are no big surprises, and the events unfold in a predictable manner. Nevertheless, there is still much to like as the writing is strong, the characters likable, and the emotion believable. Still I wanted Harmful Rush to hit it out the park. Instead, it settles for a high popup that crashes back to earth too quickly.
About the Author
Debra Doxer was born in Boston, and other than a few lost years in the California sunshine, she has always resided in the Boston area. She writes fiction, technical software documents, illegible scribbles on sticky notes, and texts that get mangled by AutoCorrect. She writes for a living, and she writes for fun. When her daughter asks when she’ll run out of words, her response always is, “When I run out of time.”