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REVIEW - Toxic

Toxic (The Ruin Series Book 2) - Rachel Van Dyken

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5 "Emotionally Intense" Stars

“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 M.


Toxic by Rachel Van Dyken is book two in her Ruin series. After reading Ruin, I admit that I was very excited to discover that Gabe would be getting his own book. I fell head over heels for the cocky, flirty and sarcastic playboy who didn’t seem to have a care in the world. I wanted to see what type of girl it would take to tame the reckless bad boy. Holy hell, I was not expecting what this book actually ended up delivering. Gabe has demons that he has been running from. He is about to discover what happens when the deep and dark secrets he has been trying to escape finally catch up to him.


Gabe has been living behind a carefully designed façade for over four years now. The sexy and easy going lothario who loves them and leaves them is who he wants the world to see when in actuality he is hiding secrets so deep and painful that they threaten to bury him alive on a daily basis. Pretending to be someone he’s not is Gabe’s way of hiding, escaping the loss and pain caused by one poor choice. He reinvented himself only to immerge more broken and in need of saving. Gabe is unable to share his true self with those he has grown close to. It eats at him, consumes him. Now Gabe’s past is in danger of being thrust right into the open for all to see. The collision of his past and present can ultimately lead to his complete destruction.


Saylor is a beautiful and smart music student trying to get through college in order to help provide a better life for her family. She is dedicated and utterly focused on getting good grades to eventually secure a great and stable job. Her life may be boring and predictable but she has responsibilities and can’t allow herself to simply be carefree. The last thing she needs is a distraction; however, the said distraction comes her way anyways. And, it comes in the form of a gorgeous and tattooed ass-hat who unhinges her with his douche ways, makes her heart flutter and whose music haunts her with its passion and beauty.

“And you, little girl, better be careful. You’re dangerously close to getting me to fall for you, and I don’t do relationships, I do girls.”


“With you,” I said, sighing, “I can just be me.”

“A non-smooth talking jack-ass with shifty eyes?” she asked dryly.

Gabe and Saylor do not start off on the right foot. I did not even recognize Gabe as his behavior towards Saylor was absolutely deplorable. Seriously, where did the carefree guy who cracked jokes go? But then I began to understand that he was struggling to keep up his façade, becoming more vulnerable by the minute. Underneath the sarcasm, verbal lashes and the secrecy was this scared individual who was grieving deeply and afraid to open up his soul. Gone was the young man he once was, replaced by someone he did not even recognize. Right from the start Saylor is someone who threatens Gabe’s necessary defenses. They both share a profound love of music. But where Gabe is all intensity and passion, Saylor is all about control and perfectionism. Two extremes that on the surface would appear to never work. Saylor and Gabe may have been like oil and water but there was no denying their connection.


Gabe’s existence was complicated, complex, intense and so unbearably sad. My heart literally ached with all that he had gone through. As the story unfolds and Gabe’s life comes crashing down at his feet, you see him being pulled into the darkness that is threatening to swallow him whole. Wes, Kiersten and Lisa all played a big role in helping Gabe find his way once again. I particularly loved all the scenes between Gabe and Wes. They were both sweet and laugh-out-loud funny. Like Gabe’s friends, Saylor becomes someone who he can lean on. Her feelings for Gabe ran deep and she shows maturity and wisdom well beyond her years in how she dealt with it all. I loved the fact that she understood where Gabe was coming from and simply gave him what he needed in order to heal and move on. The two of them together were all sorts of messy beautiful as they maneuvered their way into a profoundly touching relationship.

All in all, Toxic was a wonderfully written piece of work that had me clutching my heart as much as it had me smiling through my tears. This author has a way with words that I find compelling. She easily draws me into her stories and I quickly become engrossed in the pain, desolation, uncertainty, happiness, passion and love all experienced by her life-sized characters. Next up is a novella called Fearless about Wes and Kiersten due out on March 9th, 2014. I am so excited for that. I frankly need a little more Wes Michaels in my life.


***An advanced reading copy of Toxic by Rachel Van Dyken was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.