TOXIC by Rachel Van Dyken
Series: Ruin #2
Genres: New Adult
Everyone has a secret...Buy the Book •
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.
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?
It took me a week to really work through the feelings I have about this book. It was beautiful. It was heartbreaking. I will say that I may actually like Gabe, and Saylor's story better than Weston/Kiersten. Don't tell Wes though! He may get a bit jealous. The character quotes before each chapter set the tone of what I was about to read. The glimpse into the emotion of the chapter prepped me for where their head was going to be. The hardest part about this book was the character "Kimmy." Gabe's unwavering loyalty to her was a quality I admired. During his POV's you could feel the struggle it was for him to protect what was most important to him. This character trait added to my initial reaction if Gabe in the first book Ruin. I LOVED Gabe in Ruin, and couldn't wait for toxic to be released. He has so much depth, and pain. I knew it was going to take a special companion to bring out the best of him. Which brings me to Saylor. Can she be any more awesome? Saylor wears her heart on her sleeve. She tries to hide behind a little snark at times, but that was when she was her most transparent. She was able to care for Gabe unguardedly. I think we take that for granted at times. Being able to care for someone without worrying over obligations. Gabe couldn't do that. For me it made their story more endearing. The ending was super swoony! Without giving away anything, I will say that Happy Endings are bittersweet. I came into this story with one idea, and was not prepared for it to go into a totally different direction. Gabe is not at all what you thought he was, and Saylor will stick with you long after the book ends.
Life has two stages.
Birth and death. That’s it. What you do in between the two? Well, that’s up to
you, isn’t it? —Wes M
Behind me, Gabe ceased all motion. The only way I knew he was
still there was from the heat that seeped into my back from where his body
touched me. More warmth rolled off his hands where they seemed fused to mine.
Any minute now, I expected him to pull away, to slip into mask number one or
mask number two. Instead, he flipped my hands over, gripping them with his
fingers and exhaled, long and slow. Seconds went by, but they may as well have
been years. Each time he let out a breath, my heart skipped a beat of longing,
needing more of his touch — more of something. My back tingled as the hard
planes of his stomach pressed against me. I was in a Gabe cocoon.
And I loved it.
Until the music started.
With slight pressure, Gabe moved my hands to the piano, slowly,
effortlessly placing them on each key.
He was playing through me, using my body as an
instrument to convey the story of his life. Each time he pressed down on one of
my fingertips or guided me to another area of the piano, I felt the sadness of
the song clench deeper. The notes became floating tendrils of pain, each one of
them slowly invading my body and taking hold until it hurt to breathe.
He moved faster and faster, my hands couldn’t keep up. I pulled
back as he continued the song, in such a rush it was like he was yelling but
doing it with music. Unable to convey it in any other way.
With a final burst of movement, he lifted his hands off the
piano and smashed them against the keys, causing a chaos of notes to burst
Gabe’s breathing was uneven, ragged as he leaned heavily against
me, his chin resting on my head, and he whispered brokenly, “I can’t.”
“You were doing so good.”
“It’s like getting into a car with suicidal tendencies. You keep
going faster and faster, needing the adrenaline to keep you alive until
suddenly you turn the wheel and everything goes black. The notes, they go
higher and higher, and right when I feel like I can change the outcome — I
panic. Some things…” He sighed and pulled away. “Some things are better left in
“Are you sure about that? Are you sure about perfection?” I
folded my hands in my lap, but didn’t turn around.
“Sure.” He moved from behind me and sat on the bench. “If life
was perfect, how in the hell would we ever learn to depend on someone other
than ourselves? If anything, that’s what life’s taught me. The need to be
perfect is stemmed in the very belief that it’s actually something we can
achieve. Self-actualization — doesn’t exist.”
I licked my lips and looked down at the keys. “Does that mean we
don’t try then?”
“No.” Gabe tickled a few of the ivory keys in front of him, the
music note tattoos on his fingertips looking darker against the white of the
piano. “It just means when you reach the end of your rope, you shouldn’t regret
a damn thing, but applaud yourself for trying to do the impossible.”
I felt like he was using double meanings. The philosophical Gabe
was a bit terrifying because he made me feel more insecure than the jackass
Gabe. But the guy sitting next to me right now? I was beginning to understand,
he wasn’t just one person. He was every person, everything, whatever he needed
to be, he was.
Like a chameleon.
And suddenly the ending to the story made sense.
Ten different notes all clamoring at once.
Gabe was Chaos.
Rachel Van Dyken’s Bio:
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!
Rachel Van Dyken Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4882127.Rachel_Van_Dyken