TOXIC by Rachel Van Dyken

Posted: March 22, 2014 by BA Dillon in BOYS are just BETTER in BOOKS (Romance and Indie Authors)



The title worried me, but the story sucked me in from the very first word. This is the companion book to Ruin, and they should be read in order. Readers get their first look at Gabe in Ruin, and we are treated to the development of a great friendship between him and Wes. Gabe is a bit of a mystery with very little back story delivered in Ruin. All we know is that he is a student and Lisa’s cousin. Early in Toxic we learn that Gabe is a gifted musician and hiding a deep, dark secret – his true identity. He’s covered his body in tattoos, and dyes his hair in order to hide. Literally running into Saylor rocks his world. The two are drawn together, but fight the connection from the start. Saylor is a music student at the same college. As a classical trained pianist, she’s overcome with emotion with she hears Gabe play. The closer she gets to him, the harder she fights the attraction. Each chapter opens with a diary entry from Gabe, Saylor, or Wes. The depth of emotion that builds from these short paragraphs is tremendous. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this start to every chapter. This dialogue driven story is supported by a tremendous cast of characters. Wes and Kiersten are back, but it’s Wes who we see the most. He and Gabe bonded in Ruin, and became best friends. Too many books only give readers friendships among women. This is a welcome change. We also learn more about Lisa, Gabe’s “cousin.” She will be front and center in the third installment, Shame. I have a few issues with some of the timing of major events in this story (no spoilers here!), but this is definitely more than just a romance novel. I wish more had been explored with Gabe and Saylor’s love of music – perhaps a collaborative song writing scene or even a joint performance. Their relationship did not feel as romantic and Wes and Kiersten’s love story, but that’s probably because most of the book is devoted to unveiling “Gabe’s big secret.” Overall, readers will get their HEA, and a story with a beautiful lesson about true love.

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