When I read Wounded Air by Rick R. Reed, I was blown away by the harshness of the story as well as with its humanity. I was happy to get a copy of his newest novel, Toxic, and hoped to find that I would find a story just as powerful within its pages.
To the world at large, Connor Ryman was a success. He was a successful writer of mystery novels that regularly made their way on to the NY Times bestseller list, had an expensive and luxurious condo, and was in a happy longtime relationship with the love of his life. Then everything changed the day that his partner, Steve, left and never came back. His world seemed to come crashing down around him and he felt alone even though his daughter, Miranda, did his best to raise his spirits. Not knowing how to rekindle the spark of his life, Connor turns to the internet in an attempt to once more find love. That is how he met Trey Goodall, and his life changed forever.
Trey seemed to be exactly what Connor was looking for. He was a successful lawyer and the sexiest man that Connor had ever met. He was so blown away that this man could be attracted to him that he did not notice the early warning signs that Miranda picked up on. Beauty is only skin deep and sometimes what lies below the surface is a monster. Trey was not what he seemed. He was a liar and a predator looking for nothing more than to drain Connor’s bank account. What started so good soon turns to a nightmare, but can Connor get out of the relationship in time to not only save his fortune but his life as well?
Toxic is the story of a relationship gone bad, or rather a relationship that was bad from the start, and the setup is one that is easy to relate with. Everyone has been through a rough ending to a relationship that leaves a hole in the heart desperate to be filled. It is easy to fall into the trap of rushing into a new relationship without thinking of the ramifications and to overlook warning signs in hopes of replacing what had come before. Reed does a good job of setting the stage and leading up to what could be a compelling read. Unfortunately, the setup for the story is better than the execution. Things begin to unravel some with the introduction of Trey, who comes across as one-dimensional and somewhat unbelievable. He comes across as more of a plot device than a real character, and as he begins to weave his web through the story, the other characters begin to unravel. Connor and Miranda start the story as a strong duo, but the strength of their characters comes apart as they grow apart in the story and Connor turns hopelessly (maybe impossibly) naïve and Miranda becomes a petulant child obsessed with her father’s love life. The novel opens with a strong sense of character for the father and daughter duo and quickly loses this aspect. By about a third of the way into the story, I found it hard to care about their fate as they became the worst aspects of their personalities rather than fully formed characters.
The biggest problem with the novel is the pacing. While it seems as if the story is building at a slow burn, it felt as if it was just turning in circles. Trey is set up as this pure evil being and yet very little happens until the very end of the novel. There are things that happen that are not good, but there is little that is truly evil or dangerous until the very end of the novel. Yes, Trey is acting out of malice which makes some of his actions worse than they could be, but much of the novel reads like more of a description of a troubled relationship more than a toxic one. The story meanders along for too long so that when it finally reaches its climax, it feels more like a rushed ending rather than a satisfactory ending for the story. Maybe I was let down a bit by expecting the same compelling story from Toxic as I found in Wounded Air, which often left me shaken, but this book just did not deliver for me. I would definitely give Reed another chance, but Toxic just did not deliver the punch that I was expecting from the story.
I would like to thank NineStar Press and NetGalley for this review copy. Toxic is available now.
Rick Reed’s newest book is a well written book about a toxic person entering a person’s life when they are at their weakest and the problems that occur as things slowly turn in on itself.
Toxic is a great read that keeps the reader fully immersed within the pages. Connor is a man whose life is turned upside down when his long-time companion leaves and takes on with a younger guy. He tries a dating app and meets the man from hell who will turn his life far beyond anything he has ever written from his cosy little mystery novels.
The characters are well drawn, and he has given them a three-dimensional feel keeping them firmly planted in reality. Connor and his daughter Melissa are very well drawn out though Steve, the ex probably could have made more of an impact though his part does make a splash. Trey is a noteworthy villain who seems that his dark side is just a bit darker than one would suppose from the beginning.
The plot is fast moving, and it moves at a good page turning pace. Never really lulling and keeping the reader at the end of their seat as it progresses to its head turning finale that lingers in the subconscious long after the final sentence.
I have read Reed’s books in the past and here he has really outdone himself. His characters are fresh and don’t fall within the woke category but are more real and tangible. You feel like you know these people as they are fully realised. This is an excellent page turner and great to see Reed’s writing and plotting at his most excellence. Worth the read.
This is the first Rick R Reed book I just couldn't get into. It just wasn't for me. It was well written and I know others will like this book.
Rick R. Reed’s Toxic is a domestic thriller that, for me anyway, failed to thrill.
The book follows Connor Ryman, a successful mystery novelist who is abandoned by his long-term partner and who winds up romantically involved with a psychopath. It has many of the tropes common in domestic thrillers, and readers who prefer that genre may find that this hits the spot for them.
For me, the self-indulgent prose and navel-gazing characters made this a difficult book to enjoy. I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters (common for me in domestic thrillers), and I thought the decision to open in the aftermath of the disaster diminished the overall suspense.
Recommended for devoted readers of LGBTQ domestic thrillers.
Trigger warnings for suicidal thoughts, infidelity, child abuse
Thank you, NineStar Press, for the advance reading copy.
One of the books which lived up to its blurb. And I am happy!
This book gripped me from the very first page! Because things kept happening and I was just not ready for them! And I will never be.
Please make sure you are aware of all the trigger warnings given at the beginning of the book and make sure you're mature enough and ready to read a story like this one.
The triggering scenes were a bit too much for me at times so I had to keep the book away for hours before picking it up.
The writing is really good. The character development is surprising. We get to read the story from different perspectives.
I don't think anyone would be ready anytime to read this book but I am sure once you start reading this book you won't be able to put it down.
I loved the father daughter bond. It's beautiful. I wish they ended up with someone better. Damn.
Can we stop crying now?