Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review & Giveaway: TOXIC by Avylinn Winter (Treacherous Chemistry #2)

Buy Links: 

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Length: 79,690 words

Treacherous Chemistry Series

Volatile (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK


When true love is a lie and pleasure turns to pain.

Adam Webb spent most of his teenage years in love with his best friend, Gabriel Connor, only to be thrown out of their shared apartment when he finally found the courage to reveal his feelings.

Seven months later, Adam's effort to save their lost friendship finds him more than he ever asked for. After all, being thrown out has to be better than thrown into a wall. However, Adam isn't ready to give up. Trapped and isolated in a dangerous relationship, he falls deeper and deeper into Gabrielís world.

Despite Adam's attempts to push them away, his friends are determined to help, but the man who fights hardest is Cameron McCain, Adam's photography teacher-a man who treasures what Gabriel does not.

They say love should conquer all. But when passion breeds fear and love turns toxic, will Adam make the right choice?

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of domestic violence and dubious consent.

Carra's Review

There are stories that are lighthearted and sweet, low on the angst and high on the love.  If that’s what you’re looking for, then you’re in for a rude awakening with Toxic (the title should have clued you in, right?).  This story delves into topics that are upsetting and will be hard for some to read, so take the reader advisory seriously before you start the book.  I’m not trying to steer anyone away—on the contrary, this book drives home a message that deserves to be heard and taken to heart.  Just be ready to have your heart hurt before all is said and done, and know that Adam has plenty of support—if he can just realize it and take it.

Adam is such a kind, caring, sweet young man…and he so easily falls into the role of victim, becoming the classic, textbook case of one in this story.  It tore me apart over and over, and I was yelling at him in my head as I became frustrated with him—he was worth so much more than what he was getting.  I quickly came to despise the object of his affection…yes, despise.  Gabriel was written to evoke that kind of response, and the author did that job to perfection.  The way he seemed to abruptly change from his personality before Adam confessed his feelings to his abusive behavior afterward put questions in my mind, but not having personally experienced an abuse situation had me putting that aside for the purposes of this story.

Cameron, Adam’s teacher, is a wonderful man.  The romance side of things between him and Adam is not something you see right away, in fact it took quite a while before anything truly began to develop.  Much of the story is focused on Adam’s situation and how it develops, with the relationship between him and Adam being more secondary.  The angst factor tops out the charts, and there are multiple scenes that were disturbing—and heartbreaking—to read before things start to look up.  

Chris and Dante from Volatile (book 1 in the series) play excellent supporting roles, and it was nice to see them again here in Toxic.  Their presence, as well as Cameron’s, brought hope, friendship and support to Adam when he most needed it.  As painful as this story could be at times, these three are the bright spot for both the reader and Adam…even if Adam doesn’t want to give in to it at first.

If domestic violence and dubious consent are difficult topics for you, carefully consider before starting this book.  Those who choose to read will be rewarded with a drama-filled story with a positive ending…though for me, I would have liked to see more of Adam and Cameron together as a couple.  It didn’t feel like there was enough time to cement a relationship between them, so it almost felt like a happy-for-now ending and not a happily ever after, even with the epilogue.  

Overall Toxic was a 4-star read for me.  This story is definitely meant only for readers 18+ due to the difficult subject matter, adult language and M/M sexual content including rough handling and dubious consent.

A Note from Avy...

Toxic is the second novel in the Treacherous Chemistry series, following characters introduced in Volatile. However, it can be read as a stand-alone. It's a story about love, but also about the dangers of loving what you shouldn't.

I wrote this story as an attempt to understand why we sometimes fail to recognize what's bad for us, but most of all I wrote it for Adam, and all the Adams out there across the world. I wanted to give him strength, resilience and hope in a situation far too many has to navigate.

Toxic is by no means a light read, and it would be unfair of me to label it as such. I've been known to play with readers' emotions, and Toxic is no exception. And, although it is a story about love, some will likely say this novel contains elements of general fiction. However, as long as you know what you're up against, Toxic will hopefully give you something to remember and something to ponder.

You will get to meet Dante and Chris again, but also make a new acquaintance in Cameron. If nothing else, these three will undoubtedly make you smile when you most need it. I promise.

Toxic has been posted on Wattpad as a draft, which is the reason you see ratings before the release date. It collected over a million reads on the site before I took it down for publication, which gave me some confidence that Adam's story was worth telling despite the toll it took on me.

I hope you'll let sweet Adam tell you his story because it's an important one.

Author Bio

Raised in one of the cold corners of the world, Avylinn spends her days either wrapped up in a blanket or basking in the precious sunlight. When she can't choose herself, she's holed up in an office working with climate research that has little to do with the worlds and characters she creates in her vivid dreams.

Always the emotional one, she has found her outlet in writing, voicing thoughts, emotions and fears through her characters that feel very much alive to her. And, what began as a hobby soon took more and more time in her life until she realized that she had left her old life behind and entered a new one where her emotions turned into a super power-ready to launch at her poor readers.

She recharges with the help of coffee, cinnamon buns, popcorn and occasionally a healthier alternative. 

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