Review: Toxic by Avylinn Winter

ToxicRating: 3.75 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel


When Adam was in junior high school, being bullied was a way of life until Gabriel stepped up for him. They were already friends, but they became inseparable through the years and then became roommates in college. When Adam finally has the courage to reveal his true feelings to Gabriel, Gabriel throws him out of their room and turns his back on Adam.

Months later, Adam cannot come to terms with the loss of the friendship and seeks Gabriel out once again. The guys begin a physical relationship that absolutely has to be kept secret and Gabriel won’t even talk to Adam around his football teammates. But Gabriel is possessive of Adam in private and their relationship has been dangerous and abusive right from the start.

Adam is so drawn into being with Gabriel and he rationalizes everything that is being done to him. When Adam’s friends notice something is going on with him, he tries to convince everyone that everything is really okay. Adam’s photography teacher, Cameron, also takes a professional as well as personal interest in Adam, but Adam has to figure out a way to break free from Gabriel.

Adam was introduced in the first book in this series, Volatile, when he was already kicked out of the room he shared with Gabriel. He was living with Chris, who was the MC in that book, and while Chris and Dante make an appearance here, it is not entirely imperative to have read that book first.

This is the story of Adam. While Gabriel and Cameron are both in his orbit, this is not their story. Although, I did feel that it should have been a little more of Gabriel’s story as well. Adam has been in love with Gabriel for some time and the loss of their friendship weighs heavily on him. He makes one more attempt to get Gabriel to forgive him, which sets off a scene that is not exactly the stuff of romance, even Adam agrees on that one. But Adam is so caught up in being with Gabriel, he suffers from a more than mild case of hero worship and even when Gabriel says they have to keep their relationship a secret, Adam is fine with that as well.

The book is entirely Adam trying to figure out how to please Gabriel. While the author was able to transport us inside Adam’s head, I had some issues with the way the entire story was laid out. We are never shown any of the scenes of Adam and Gabriel when they were the best of friends. All we are shown is Gabriel abusing Adam, so it was then more difficult to see what Adam saw in Gabriel. Also, the two of them don’t spend all that much time together and we are mostly with Adam in the aftermath after their encounters.

Gabriel was also a two-dimensional character who remained a bully and an abuser on page. We were never given anything on why all of a sudden he wants to have a sexual relationship with Adam or what the trigger was for the abuse. There were a few clues scattered about and while it then did not allow any empathy to be had for Gabriel, given the trauma that Adam was going through I needed more to pull this all together for me.

Cameron was Adam’s teacher and we weren’t given a whole lot on him either. He took a liking to Adam and as a teacher took him away for the weekend for Adam to assist him with a photo shoot. There were so many areas that I needed to better understand Cameron’s motivations and then more on their subsequent relationship overall.

The book takes on an important subject of domestic abuse and I liked Winter’s style of writing. I just needed more on what was going on around Adam for the entire story to work for me.

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