Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Amber reviews Toxic by Rachel Van Dyken.



Everyone has a secret...

Gabe Hyde is on borrowed time. He's been hiding his identity for over four years-hidden from the world that used to adore him--obsess over him--driven to the edge of insanity by one poor choice.
But that one choice, altered the course of his life forever.
Pretending isn't all it's cracked up to be, especially when pretending means hiding your real self from the people that care about you the most. But if anyone ever discovered the truth it wouldn't just be his life at risk--but hers.

Saylor doesn't hate men.
Just Gabe.
Only Gabe.
He's a reckless, happy-go-lucky, silver spoon fed pain in her ass. Everything about him makes her more and more confused. Unfortunately they both donate time at the same Group Home. If she wasn't afraid of flunking, she'd be long gone. She hates that she's attracted to him almost as much as he hates that he's attracted to her--and she can tell, especially since their first encounter ended up making her knees so weak she couldn't form coherent sentences for weeks afterwards. But the closer she gets to him, the more confused she becomes. He isn't who he says he is, and he's hiding something big.

What happen when two worlds collide? Two worlds that never should have met in the first place? Some secrets are too big to be hidden forever--the only question? Will his destroy everyone he loves? Or finally bring about the redemption he's been craving for the past four years?

Everyone has a secret...What's yours?


5+++ Star Review by Amber Presley Boyd

Let me start by saying if you haven’t read any of Rachel’s works before, run get your ereader right now and start downloading because you really need to experience her awesomeness. Then start with RUIN. While Toxic is a standalone book, RUIN is where we first meet Gabe Hyde  and trust me when I say that you need to experience how he became friends with Kiersten and Wes because it’s just that good! I mean really that, blow-me-away good just like Toxic.

Gabe has this really sardonic sense of humor when we first meet him and you think he’s just this guy who cares about himself and getting laid. But Gabe is so much more and I got to glimpse this in Ruin but got hit with it full-force here. It’s apparent from the first page that Gabe is tortured and sad and just wants to find a way to feel normal again, to find a normal that isn’t him hiding from the world or from himself.  This is Gabe’s story completely and what a story it is. I am not going to spoil things in any way, but I will say that I never saw any of this coming. The way Rachel has told this story is heartbreakingly beautiful and powerful to me. Gabe so desperately wants to break free, to find himself and maybe even find love, but he doesn’t really believe that he deserves it. Fortunately he has amazing friends that support him, even when he doesn’t want it.

Wes is such a friend. Wes is such a badass of a friend, but then Gabe is somewhat of a badass too. Then again sometimes he’s just an ass. His being an ass is how his first encounter of meeting Saylor begins. Saylor is a music student that plays perfectly but without passion, she hears Gabe playing one day and is drawn to his ability to draw so much emotion but despite the draw she is both attracted and appalled by the way he engages her. Let me just say the music is as much a player in their attraction as any and man what a steamy player the music is at times. Oh my!

Who knew Gabe was a musical genius?! It was a great way to use music in a story. Gabe calls it his therapy, but even when he resists letting himself let go through his music and becomes frustrated he can’t seem to stop needing the release he gets. He is drawn to Saylor, as much as he wants to fight it because he feels that part of him that can love is dead and feels that he can’t take a chance and hurt anyone else. But there is something about Saylor that heals him much like his music. In many ways I think it was not only Saylor but his friendships with Wes and Kiersten and Lisa that help Gabe find the strength and courage to find himself. To help him find the ability to not only love others but love himself, to let go of the ties that bind him to the past and make peace.  

This story was full of pain, full of hope and full of love. Now it wasn’t all sad and heartbreaking, there are plenty of laughable moments but once again Rachel made me ugly cry. There are so so many beautiful lines and passages in this book. I feel like I highlighted a ton of things and the playlist, oh my dear Lord it was just amazing. I love Rachel. I love her spirit. I love her humor. I love how she sucks me into every story of hers that I read and leaves me wanting and needing more.


Some of my favorite lines or quotes from Toxic. . .

+ “Falling in love, jumping out, even knowing full well that she’d catch me. It wasn’t an option. Because everyone knows, when it comes to love, it’s not the fall that hurts…it’s the landing. And I knew it was only matter of time before she gave up on me too and allowed me to break…”

+ “Music is life – maybe that’s why I’d abandoned it for so long. I didn’t feel like I deserved life - not anymore. – Gabe

+ “Music wasn’t really music unless your soul was exposed, unless your heart was either bursting or breaking…”

+ “The most erotic touch a man can experience is that of a woman diffing her nails into his skull and giving a little tug.” – Gabe, Wes and all men…everywhere

+ “Just because we aren’t crying on the outside doesn’t mean we aren’t completely wrecked on the inside…”

+ “Baring your soul to someone is like purposefully stabbing yourself in the heart and waiting for the person you love to stop the bleeding” – Wes

+ “The truth really does set you free – but what they don’t tell you is the process hurts like hell.” –Wes

+ “Your identity is found in your heart. Not your job, not your status, your name, what your major is, how much money you have. Your heart has been the same the entire time. So, be who you’ve always been.”

+ “Love has no time table, no rules. It is what it is…”

+ “Don’t let pain keep you from moving forward. It shouldn’t stop your progress – it should drive it…”

+ “I want you to be on fire. Not just warm, but blazing. Not intrigued, but impressed. Not just excited. I want you enthralled. And at the end of the night, what I really want…is for those tear to be washed away from your memory for good.”

+ “You know you’re in love with someone when the idea of them being in love with someone else doesn’t just wreck you, it invades every part of your being. Yet, how could I be upset that Gabe loved her? When his love for her was one of the very reasons I loved him?” – Saylor

+ “If there was anything I learned in this situation it was that we weren’t promised anything. All we had was moments strung together; each one is over in a blink of an eye…”

 *ARC received in exchange for an honest review*
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About the author:
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.
She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers!