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.
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.
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?
Birth and death. That’s it. What you do in between the two? Well, that’s up to
you, isn’t it? —Wes M
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.
effortlessly placing them on each key.
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.
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.
piano and smashed them against the keys, causing a chaos of notes to burst
me, his chin resting on my head, and he whispered brokenly, “I can’t.”
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
folded my hands in my lap, but didn’t turn around.
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.”
don’t try then?”
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.”
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.
ruined the moment by talking in my serious voice and scaring the shit out of
you — why don’t we work on one of your performance pieces?”
my wrists at the perfect degree and keep my eyes on the music ahead. Sometimes
I wondered if my posture was better than my playing.
the right posture, it’s—”
felt exactly the same. The movement wasn’t as fast as some of the others, but
the timing for it had to be perfect.
I started slowly playing. “Not in this lifetime.”
it, which made me all the more irritated. Master? Um, no.
fingertips. All I had was the music — that and Gabe.
just tell me to close them again, so I kept playing.
slowly tilting it down toward the piano while his other hand went to my upper
back then slowly moved down until it was in the middle, with a gentle push, he
urged my body closer to the keys.
Everything felt wrong as I continued playing.
hips. And stayed there. Other than jumping a foot, I was still able to
around in my brain. I knew it, but I’d never experienced it. How was I supposed
to use something I didn’t know how to use? And how embarrassing was it that I
was stuck in that tiny room having never been… stuck in a tiny room with any
guy? Lover. I’d take him. If I got a choice. It would be him. But people like
Gabe, beautiful people who had music in their soul, who knew how to speak
without words… they weren’t for girls like me.
“You need to feel it not just on your fingertips — but everywhere.”
sides, then resting right underneath my breasts, he pressed again. “And here.”
“Where is this story taking me? Where are you taking your lover?”
the story forward, what happens next… Tell the story, Saylor. Make me feel it
without even touching you.”
piano this time.
so kiss me.”
trying to play a difficult piece as he was asking me this, which basically
meant I must have had talent, because my body was on fire.
the music, show me what the kiss would feel like. I want to taste it.”
type of pressure you’d use as you pressed your velvety smooth mouth against
mine. I imagine exploring your mouth not just because I want to — but because I
can’t help it. I’m lost. And your kiss is my salvation… so, Saylor, will you
mouth — the way he smiled, the way he took his lower lip hostage when he was
deep in thought. The dark look he got in his eyes when there was something he
wanted. Our kiss would be epic.
each note with the rhythm of my footsteps as I approached him.
hands hovered over the keys making my hesitation known.
if I was leaning into Gabe with my body pressed against his. My breasts brushed
the keys. I moved closer to the piano and then slowed the music.
thing. Both of us wanted to taste, to explore, to feel.
keys, to show the anticipation.
of the piece which wasn’t normally how it was done.
gently started the rhythmic cadence again.
marathon. With a smile he tucked my fallen hair behind my ear and tilted my
chin toward him.
both your first and last — like you’re saying both hello and goodbye — like
you’ve just been born… like you’ve just died.”
Have you read Ruin by Rachel yet? If not I suggest you do. Not only because this story will make more sense, although it can stand on it’s own, but because it is a really good book.
This is Gabe’s story. You know the very interesting bad boy from Ruin Gabe. Only Gabe is much more than just dark haired, tattooed, sex on two legs. He has a past, that is only slightly hinted at in the first book.
What I liked:
Saylor is a quiet geeky girl. She’s had a lot put on her shoulders at a young age. She just wants to pass her first year of college, and keep her scholarship.
Their first encounter is strange, and they continue to bump into each other in very frustrating ways.
Despite Saylor’s cluelessness I liked her. I remember being that girl in college who had to keep her grades up for scholarships. So I related to her focus, and determination.
Gabe. Awe, I love Gabe. A lot. And he doesn’t disappoint in this book. He’s complex and troubled, and has his douche moments. But he’s not a douche. Thank goodness. He’s genuinely a nice guy who is troubled. He needs saving, but he does it himself, with the help of his friends.
Rachel writes amazing romance. You can’t help but root for her characters, she really gets that beginning of a relationship butterfly feeling. Basically Rachel NAILS this novel. My friend Elyse is always going on and on about “the Feels” and I believe that this book has them in spades. I may have actually shed a tear or two. The chemistry and love scenes between the characters are hot. And I was very satisfied with the ending, which is not something that happens a lot in tragic love stories.
I really loved Toxic. I actually loved it a lot more than Ruin. The story is a bit less sweet than Ruin. It’s actually really bittersweet. I feel like this ending was perfect and more realistic.
What I didn’t like:
The whole secret identity thing was confusing at times. Not like derr I don’t get it confusing, but just a little over the top.
If you’re a contemp romance fan, or just a Rachel fan in general (like me) you’ll love this book.
I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Van Dyken’s Bio:
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!