Age Group: Young Adult
Release Date: September 25th, 2013
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They weigh you down. I’ve kept a secret all my life. It’s my mother’s secret, too. I inherited it from her along with a unique ability that only we possess. She’s gone now, another victim of addiction. If her death isn’t enough to bring me to my knees, her betrayal flays me to the bone.
Because the secret my mother and I have been keeping is just one of many she’d kept. She never told me I have an older brother. And now he’s here, eager to be my guardian.
There is no one else. So I move across the country to live with this stranger, my brother. But experience has taught me that most situations are temporary and forming attachments only leads to hurt in the end. That’s why I’m determined to keep to myself in this new place, struggling to seem aloof while I’m quietly breaking apart.
Then I meet Lucas…His magnetism is hard to resist, and most girls at school aren’t resisting. I don’t fall so easily though, especially not for guys who use their good looks as a weapon. From the start, our interactions are tense and volatile. I know it’s because I’m denying the unwelcome desire that grips me when he’s near. I think he feels it, too. He looks at me with an intensity that threatens to unhinge my resolve. Soon he’s trying to break through the walls that past hurts have built.
But I’m not what I appear to be, and it wouldn’t be fair to get involved with him. At least that’s what I tell myself. Until a terrible act of violence reveals that Lucas has a secret, too. It’s a secret that links us together and ties us to an evil history I could never have imagined.
When I first started reading "Keep You from Harm" by Debra Doxer, I didn't really know what to expect. The book's summary talks about our main protagonist, Raielle, having a secret that she and her mother have kept all their lives, but there aren’t many clues as to what that secret is.
It isn't until you reach about 40 pages into the book that the secret is revealed. While there was a bit of a hint to it at the beginning, I still wasn't expecting for it to be paranormal in nature. Up until that point the book had seemed just like another YA high school drama with a bit of an edge, and then the paranormal came in. I'm all for the supernatural (in fact Paranormal YA is probably the genre I read the most), but there wasn't much building up to the reveal and it seemed to come out of nowhere.
Raielle's secret "gift" (or "curse" as she thinks of it sometimes) is also the only paranormal feature in this book. I'm left wondering if there is more out there in this world that we haven't seen, and might possibly see in future books in this series. Surely this can't be the only supernatural element in this world, can it?
This book also had a definite turning point. Once Raielle's mother is found murdered, she moves from
to the east coast to live with her long lost brother and starts high school
there. The first half of the story is her adjusting to her new life while also
trying to figure out the motives of our story's main love interest, Lucas (more
on him later). But about halfway through, this book goes from a teenaged drama
to a mystery where the stakes are considerably raised.
While I didn't really have a problem with the high school aspect of the book (I am an avid YA reader after all, so I'm used to it), the second half of the book is what really did it for me. I found myself staying up until 2:00 in the morning because I couldn't put it down. Once Raielle and Lucas get over their awkward times, they focus more on Raielle's "gift/curse" thing and on the mystery of who murdered her mother. Who doesn't love a good mystery?
Now let's take a minute to talk about Lucas. I'm sorry, but during a good chunk of this book, I couldn't decide whether I loved or hated this guy. His mood swings were worse than mine when I'm suffering from my worst PMS and have no chocolate on hand, and that didn't sit well with me. Raielle didn't give him the answer he wants about something? He sulks, ignores her, and talks to other girls instead. Yeah, that's a healthy relationship in the making.
These two made me want to bang my head against a wall for a good number of chapters, but then I remembered that they're in high school, and high schoolers aren't exactly the prime example of having well-grounded relationships. But once these two actually talked about their feelings and Raielle called Lucas out on his moody BS (which I loved her for; I'm sick of YA protagonist girls letting the guy walk all over her. *coughBELLAcoughcough*), they started to make some progress and I didn't feel like choking the guy.
Seriously though, SO much happens in this book, it's crazy to think that it's less than 300 pages. We go from Raielle finding her mother murdered in the kitchen, to her moving across the country and meeting new people, to finding out she has this weird supernatural gift, to wondering what Lucas is hiding (and finding out what he's hiding), to prom, to dealing with sickness, to looking for clues about Raielle's mom's murder. Does that sound like a lot? Because it's a lot. However, even though all of this is crammed into a couple hundred pages, the pacing is still on point. At no part of this book did I feel that Doxer was rushing the story along to get to the next thing.
And how do you guys feel about cliffhangers? Because you can definitely say that "Keep You from Harm" ends with a doozy. That is, if you believe matters of life and death being in the balance qualifies as a "doozy".
Do I recommend this book? When I first started reading it, I was on the fence with that answer, but once it started to go in its new direction, I found myself really enjoying the story (and might have even cried a few times close to the end). This is a good book to read for anyone who likes more high school than paranormal with their YA Paranormal genre, though. So if you're looking for high school witches, warlocks, and vampires, this isn't for you. But if you like a good story with a bit of mystery thrown in, you should check this book out.
Debra Doxer has always loved to write. She also loves to read, often finishing several books a week. By day, she works as a writer in the network and software security field. By night, she writes fiction novels.
Debra lives with her family outside of Boston and is currently working on her next book.