Toxic by Nicole Blanchard. Review by Tanya

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Title: Toxic
Author: Nicole Blanchard
Genre: Dark Romance
Release Date: August 21, 2017
Blurb
A new standalone
dark romance coming from New York Times and USA Today bestselling
author Nicole Blanchard.
“John Doe”
was just another patient. A criminal.
As a prison nurse, I
knew the rules: do my job, don’t get involved, and never let a prisoner get
under my skin.
I broke all three.
My passion, my
obsession, my addiction. I risked my entire life so we could be together.
I thought helping him
escape from prison would be the hard part.
It turns out when
you fall in love with a villain, you also turn into one.
My Review
Nicole Blanchard is a new author for me. I will be honest and say sometimes I am a bit hard on new authors and don’t give them a go. I had looked at this book a couple of times and eventually I decided to take the gamble and go with it.
It isn’t an easy read in places and I would say contains triggers that some people would need to be aware of. Domestic violence and sexual assault are things that are just too close to home for some people – understandably so. Still these are all too unfortunately the realities of life. The fact that this part of the story made me feel as uncomfortable and uneasy as it did really is a testament to the abilites of the author. At one stage I had to put it down and walk away.
The story itself is violent in most aspects. Its dark and it is gritty. The female character wrecked my head. That is the one downside to this book for me. She really didn’t seem to know if she was coming or going and it got annoying. The rest of the story is fast paced and well written. You certainly won’t be bored while reading it!
Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Excerpt
My hands
flex on his skin, but he’s so intent on my response he either doesn’t notice or
doesn’t care. Beneath my touch, he turns to granite and a part of me wants to
take back my question, but I can’t. 
“What’s
wrong?” I ask, and I hope it deflects from this line of conversation. “Did I
hurt you?”
He breaks
eye contact and looks down to where my hands are touching his skin. The moment
his eyes land on where our bodies connect, it makes me want to drop my hand.
How close he always manages to get to me whenever I let curiosity—or
stupidity—get the better of me is astounding. 
“Would
take more than that to hurt me, little mouse.”
I feel his
words like dark secrets. They unfurl inside me, a molten mixture of pleasure
and shame, a heady combination that invites me to ask for more. He’s a craving
I can’t quite shake. A disease slowly spreading through me. My head tells me I
should walk away, but my greedy heart begs for more of his illicit
attention. 
“Little
mouse?” I keep my focus on my fingers. Otherwise, they’ll betray my
nerves. I swipe antibacterial cream over his skin and realize resistance is
practically impossible. Not when I can feel his muscles flexing underneath my
hands, the heat coming off him in waves, and my body’s answering thrum. 
It has been
so long since I’ve felt anything other than violence and fear. The two have
become so tightly intertwined that I was certain until now I’d never feel this
again. Never feel warmth pooling low in my belly and radiating through my core
or the answering wetness slicking between my legs. 
Horror
accompanies the rush of pleasure, and I want to fling myself backward, but I
know I can’t let this dangerous man see my reaction. I can’t let him know the
effect he has on me. Can’t let him have that kind of power over me. 
“Yes,”
he finally says. “Because you always look like you want to scurry away into a
corner and hide.” 
His words
make me want to do exactly that. My eyes dance to the door and then back to my
hand as I swipe away another smear of blood from his skin. It would be so easy
to escape him and his all-too-knowing stare. The reaction I can’t deny. The
yearning. Ten steps would bring me right back to my dreary life where I can
drown in the day-to-day misery and the pain that blots out my unfortunate
reality. 
They are
ten steps I don’t take. I refuse to let King get the better of me again and
return to doctoring his wounds, trading the wipes for clean, white bandages.
Unlike Vic, when this man pressures me, tests my boundaries, I find myself
wanting to fight back, wanting to go at him with teeth bared and fists balled. 
He lays a
big, scratched-up hand over mine, pinning it to the heated flesh of his
well-muscled chest. I peer up through my lashes and find the corner of his
mouth tipped up in a half smile that would look pleasant on any other
man. 
On King,
it’s a warning. 
Or a
threat. 
My heart
thumps in my chest, a rabbit trying to escape the pursuit of a predator. I take
deep breaths to try to calm its frenetic pace, but it’s futile while in his
presence. I finish the bandage on his chest without taking the bait. Despite
how alive he makes me feel, or maybe because of it, I won’t encourage him. I
won’t go down that road. I did it once before, and it cost me everything. 
I’m waiting
for him to throw out another challenge as I finish with his chest and arms,
dump the trash into a bag, and set it by the door. 
“Can
you stand for me?” I gesture with a roll of gauze I grabbed from my bag of
supplies. “I need to wrap your ribs until they can get you in for an
X-ray.”
He obliges,
reminding me of a half-tame animal submitting to human attention only to turn
around and rip the person’s throat out seconds later. His abdomen ripples, and
the low hum of desire that I’ve steadily been trying to ignore roars back to
life made sharper by the edge of danger. 
Like
fucking in public. 
It’s wrong
and dirty and you sort of hate yourself for enjoying it so much, but you come
harder than you ever have in your life. It makes my breathing grow ragged, and
I’m afraid he can hear me but can’t find the willpower to back away. 
I have to
lean close to wrap the bandage around his chest, which doesn’t help. His scent
fills my nose like a drug. My fingers brush against his stomach, and I’d give
anything for five minutes to explore the line of muscles that disappears into
his waistband. 
The fact
that I manage to finish binding his ribs is a small miracle. He doesn’t make a
move to touch me the entire time, even though I spend it wishing he would. When
I’m done, I can feel his eyes on me, patient and predatory as I pack up the
rest of my supplies. 
“Stop
doing that!” I bite out, revealing just how badly he has my nerves
frayed. 
He gives me
that half-grin again. “Doing what?”
“Staring
at me like that. Are you trying to piss me off? Do you want me to have you
reassigned?”
As though
daring me, he takes a step forward. “You won’t do that,” he
challenges. 
“No?”
I retort though I can hear the flimsy note to my voice. 
His grin
widens. “No.”
I shake my
head and feel my body drift closer to his. “I don’t know what you want
from me, I don’t know what you think we’re doing here, but we shouldn’t. Let’s
just get that clear right now. Also, I appreciate your concern for my safety,
but there isn’t anything you can do to help me, and this sort of attention is
only going to make my situation worse.”
He shifts,
and my whole body stiffens as he brings his lips to my cheek where the memory
of the bruise throbs.
“Don’t,”
I protest, but it comes out sounding more breathy than firm. 
“I’ll
make you a deal,” he says as he closes a bit more of the distance between
us. I nearly whimper from frustration, fear, and need. “One kiss. One kiss
and I won’t bother you again. No one will have to know.” 
“You
can’t be serious,” I whisper, but I know from the determined look in his
eyes he’s serious. “Why?”
His lips
return to my cheek, surprising me with his gentleness, and I’m almost ashamed
that my initial instinct is to flinch away from him. He seems to recognize it,
and he sighs, pausing long enough to meet my eyes. We wait . . . watching each
other. But when he doesn’t follow through with a slap or a biting comment, my
traitorous body relaxes. 
My body is
clearly an idiot. 
“C’mon,”
he coaxes as his lips grow bolder. “Let me give you this. One kiss. I
promise you’ll enjoy it. Let me show you a little something sweet to take away
from the sour. One kiss, and if you want me to walk away after I will.”
He’s the
devil incarnate, the snake that tempted Eve. Though, I’m sure as hell not in
paradise. I hate myself for even considering it. Loathe the way my body shouts
at me to say yes. 
“You
won’t bother me again?” The responding triumphant gleam in his eyes
screams that I’ve taken a step off a precipice. There will be no going back
after this. 
“Scouts
honor.” I snort, causing him to grin. “So, is that a yes?”
“You
asked me earlier if I wanted to know your name.”
He nods,
but it’s a quick, jerky movement. For the first time, he’s the one caught off
guard. 
“I
think I’d like that.” It’ll be like saying goodbye, or at least that’s
what I tell myself. Goodbye to the rush of desire, the feeling of being alive.
It was fun while it lasted but this level of craziness leads nowhere
good. 
For a
moment, I think my ears are tricking me, but no. King makes a deep, satisfied
groan in the back of his throat. I’m so distracted I don’t notice he’s been
slowly moving closer until his body is pressed fully against mine. My hands go
to his shoulders, and I’m grateful for the bandages separating us. Too much
contact with his skin and my brain would surely short circuit. 
“Gracin,”
he says, his lips so close they graze the shell of my ear. “My name is
Gracin.”
Then his
mouth covers mine.
Author Bio
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Nicole
Blanchard lives in Mississippi with her family and their menagerie of animals.
She chooses each day to chase her own fairy tale even if they contain their
fair share of dragons. She is married to her best friend and owns her own
business.
Nicole survives on a diet of too many books and substantial
amounts of root beer and slim jims. When not reading, she’s lavishing attention
on her family or inhaling every episode of The Walking Dead and The Big Bang
Theory.
Author Links
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