Thursday, May 4, 2017

Review Tour: Toxic by Avylinn Winter #Review #Giveaway

Buy Links: Pride | Amazon US | Amazon UK

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 Gabriel’s 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.


Avylinn Winter is a new to me author and her book, Toxic, is the second book in her Treacherous series. Avylinn states on Goodreads that the book can be read as a standalone, and upon finishing reading this, I can say I agree. I think I would have gotten MORE out of Toxic had I read the first book in the series, Volatile, but I was able to follow along and understand the characters just fine. I think it's fair to state upfront that this book is difficult to read and may have some triggers for anyone who has suffered from domestic violence. I'm always leery of trigger warnings, but in this case, I think they're warranted. 

Toxic is the story of Adam Webber. He's been in love with his best friend, Gabriel Connor, for years. When Adam finally admits his feelings for Gabriel, a switch is thrown and things take a drastic turn. Adam is convinced he loves Gabriel and because of this, he refused to give up on Gabriel. Once they begin a romantic relationship, things take a scary twist and Adam is sucked into a world of violence and abuse. Toxic is by no means an easy read. Winter's portrayal of the mental and physical abuse Adam endures at the hands of Gabriel is difficult to get through though she does handle it with care. From the helplessness and shame Adam feels to the desperate worry of his friends, its all a punch to the gut. 

I did have a few niggles with the story line though. Adam and Gabriel are YOUNG, like early twenties and yes I know abuse can happen at any age, this just hit me wrong. And Gabriel's complete personality change was hard to swallow. From protector when they were younger to cruel abuser in such a short amount of time felt ... off. Adam's friends give Adam hope he can get out of his situation, none more so than Cameron. There is a sense of light at the end of the tunnel once Adam's friends stage an intervention and we begin to see Adam struggle to free himself of Gabriel and the toxicity of their relationship. I'm not gonna lie people, this one will hurt. It's hard to stomach at times and I wouldn't categorize it as a romance per se. But it is a story about strength and survival and love. If this sounds like your thing, give Toxic a try. The writing is really good, the story line compelling, and that characters are guaranteed to stick with you long after you read the last page. Be warned though, have lots of tissue close at hand. You'll need it!

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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