Category Archives: Rachel Van Dyken

TOXIC (Ruin #2) by RACHEL VAN DYKEN

toxic

SYNOPSIS

Everyone has a secret…

Gabe Hyde is on borrowed time. He’s been hiding his identity for over four years-hidden from the world that used to adore him–obsess over him–driven to the edge of insanity by one poor choice.
But that one choice, altered the course of his life forever.
Pretending isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially when pretending means hiding your real self from the people that care about you the most. But if anyone ever discovered the truth it wouldn’t just be his life at risk–but hers.

Saylor doesn’t hate men.
Just Gabe.
Only Gabe.
He’s a reckless, happy-go-lucky, silver spoon fed pain in her ass. Everything about him makes her more and more confused. Unfortunately they both donate time at the same Group Home. If she wasn’t afraid of flunking, she’d be long gone. She hates that she’s attracted to him almost as much as he hates that he’s attracted to her–and she can tell, especially since their first encounter ended up making her knees so weak she couldn’t form coherent sentences for weeks afterwards. But the closer she gets to him, the more confused she becomes. He isn’t who he says he is, and he’s hiding something big.

What happen when two worlds collide? Two worlds that never should have met in the first place? Some secrets are too big to be hidden forever–the only question? Will his destroy everyone he loves? Or finally bring about the redemption he’s been craving for the past four years?

Everyone has a secret…What’s yours?

toxic

Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte

J&G: 4.5 Stars

“Don’t let pain keep you from moving forward.”

We first met Kiersten’s friend Gabe in Ruin and if we thought we loved the glimpses we saw of him then… well, we have to say, we are absolutely head over heels for this guy now after reading his story. Sharing his heartache and hearing his painful secrets and tragic past and his hopes and dreams for the future.

‘….but when a person’s so stuck in their own hole of darkness – it hurts like hell when someone shines a light on them. ‘

Gabe was the man about town, a fun loving man slut, for want of a better word, who didn’t do emotion, didn’t do relationships and seemed to have completely shut down his heart to love but we always knew he had a big heart through the love, protection, friendship and hope he shared with Wes and Kiersten.

In Toxic we learn so much about the man, his past, his despair, his guilt and the responsibility for one split decision that changed his life and the lives of those around him.  Here is a man carrying a heavy load who had tried to drown his pain in alcohol, drugs and meaningless sex.

“Hate’s a good emotion.”….”Fill your heart with hate, then maybe it won’t hurt as much. That’s what I always say.”

Gabe’s story was so incredibly moving and you can’t help but unashamedly shed tears over his predicament. Gabe’s loyalty was so admirable. He never shirked his responsibility and the lengths he went to ensuring his loved ones were protected was heartbreaking yet inspirational.

“Just because we aren’t crying on the outside doesn’t mean we aren’t completely wrecked on the inside.”

We have to say, we had NO idea what was hiding beneath Gabe’s exterior. Gabe’s world could be a downright depressing place at times but this guy was truly amazing and we loved him dearly. His story is told with a huge helping of sadness and deep emotion which is lightly peppered with humour, mostly between him and Wes which we loved. Getting a glimpse into this bro-mance was so much fun and at times deeply moving. You sensed that Wes really ‘got’ Gabe and this book certainly had moments of true beauty.

This was another winner from Rachel Van Dyken for us. The music theme she intrinsically wove through the story brought a depth to not only her characters, but the story as a whole. It was handled so beautifully and we were enthralled with the way the author threaded this all together.  As music lovers we got it, we felt it and we were completely moved by it.

‘Music wasn’t really music unless your soul was exposed, unless your heart was either bursting or breaking.’

Gabe’s epiphany in Ruin was just the tip of the iceberg in getting inside this tortured man’s soul, who possessed an overpowering instinct to protect the ones he loved. You feel his anguish, compassion, his hope, his joy and his sorrow. The foreboding you feel throughout the story is counteracted with some tender and heart-warming moments experienced between Gabe and Saylor, who was a beautiful character albeit slightly naïve and childish for her age at times, and also between Wes and Gabe.

‘I could take away his pain. If there was a way to transfer it from his soul onto mine. I would take it.’

Toxic was moving, sad, stirring and inspirational.  Rachel Van Dyken has a supremely faultless way of telling a moving and sincere story that will give even the most unhopeful of us, hope.

Music is life – maybe that’s why I’d abandoned it for so long. I didn’t feel like I deserved life – not anymore.

Gabe, you left us breathless!

ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Check out and purchase the Ruin Series here:

Ruin

Toxic (The Ruin Series Book 2)

Fearless (Ruin Series 2.5)

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Filed under 4.5 Stars, Our Reviewers, Pick an Author, Rachel Van Dyken, Reviews by Gitte, Reviews by Jenny

RUIN by RACHEL VAN DYKEN

ruin

 

SYNOPSIS

I’m not your typical girl. I’ve been running away from the memories that haunt me for so long that depression has become my only comfort. I was content in the darkness…until Wes Michals offered to be my light.

I didn’t know that time wasn’t my ally — that every second that ticked past was one step closer to the end of something that was beginning to mean the end of myself. He tried to warn me. He promised me all he was able to offer–each moment as it came–but it would never be enough.

Sometimes when you think it’s the end, it’s only the beginning. Wes thought he could save me, but in giving me everything, he ruined me. Because after one kiss, one touch, I couldn’t–I wouldn’t ever be the same.

And from that moment on, his heartbeat became my own.

Ruin collage

Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte

Jenny:  First thought when I finished this book?  “That was absolutely beautiful”. In fact, I recall saying those words out loud.  I was in a daze. My second thought?  This needs to be made into a movie!  I was mesmerised with Ruin. What a truly heartfelt, moving, sweet, funny and truly beautiful story Ruin was. I read it in one sitting, loved it and alternated between swooning and snotty crying.

“I can tell you have a good heart…..”
“Because the minute I met you, I wanted to fight for it.”

Wes and Kiersten were delightful. That’s the first word that pops into my head because spending time with them was magical and these two beautiful souls nestled deep into my heart. Ruin is told in alternating POV’s between Kiersten and Wes, which really affords you the chance to feel every moment, to delve into each character and share every emotion with them. . Every character brought so much to Ruin and I adored them all.

“What you two have – it’s a once in a lifetime – you fight for him, sweetheart. Fight for him with every last breath.”

I adore this authors writing style. She always injects the right amount of humour and emotion into her stories, but this one knocked it out the park for me.  Yes it was funny, yes it was sweet but wow! Was it ever emotional!   I fell in love with this book. What about you Gitte?

Gitte: Umm how many pieces of tissues do you need when you read this story Jenny? Every bloody piece in your house, that’s how many! I mean, you know you’re in for an emotional beautiful ride when you read:

“How many times could people experience loss before they died too? Before they die of heartache?”

I loved Ruin, I love this Author…..her superb writing, her characters, and her stories always grab me. This time it completely grabbed my heart and just didn’t let go and one day later I am still thinking about this story unable to start another. I felt everything, yeah sure, at times the story was a tad cheesy but on the whole it was just beautiful in its simplicity and purity. Oh and it was quite funny too amidst the darkness of the sensitive subject matter. I think I cried through the last third of the book and didn’t stop for ages after. LOVED it!

I thought Kiersten and Wes were just gorgeous. Wes in particular, was such a well written male character and so unique in the current ‘over the top alpha’ regurgitated theme. Wes was all man but he was such a beautiful man too, he had sensitivity, compassion, respect and vulnerability. At no stage did these factors take anything away from his masculinity. What a man. I truly loved him. He’s seen and experienced such tragedy in his short life and now he’s battling himself as well as how he’s perceived by others. This doesn’t stop this amazing man from trying to help Kiersten overcome her demons though.

“They loved you….They would want you to live.” – Wes

Kiersten, so sweet and innocent but marked by the heartbreak of her parents’ deaths. She’s scared of life and living, stuck in a vicious circle of grief and guilt preventing her from moving on in her life. She needs Wes and to watch him help her achieve and overcome her fear was just heart-warming and beautiful.

“You can let your fears control you or you can control your fears.” – Wes

At the same time Kiersten gave Wes a reason. A reason to live. I sighed, I swooned, I laughed and I cried.

“Things just feel better with you around.” – Kiersten

The addition of great secondary characters just made it even better. Gabe was a great support to Wes’ character as well as Kiersten. He was the voice of reason on both their shoulders. He was a contradiction to begin with but he came through for Wes when he was full of doubt and self-loathing.

“Because in the end, I won’t have anything to give her that’s worth having.” – Wes

Jenny:  Yep! A man size box of tissues is required for this one G!
After suffering a tragedy, every day for Kiersten Rowe is a struggle. She has inner demons, suffers from depression – even the thought of getting out of bed is a mountainous effort for her.

“Just because you need help to cope doesn’t make you any less strong.  The truly weak people in this life are the ones who can’t admit they need help.”

Wes Michaels, the enigmatic star quarterback, school hunk and not to mention he is the son of one of the richest men around, enters Kiersten’s life – well collides would be a better term – during the start of her Freshman year. Little did she know “Mr Abs” was to become her saviour, nor would she know the effect this man would have on her life.

“Time was the most precious thing in the world to me, and I’d just given her all of it.”

Wes sees the sadness in her eyes and makes it his life mission to get Kiersten to seize the day, live life and enjoy each minute.  Something in Kiersten resonates with him and he is as drawn to her as she is to him. To Kiersten, We is the light in her darkness.

“Thank you.”
“For last night”
“For chasing the monsters away.”
Kiersten

Kiersten captivated me. She was such an engaging character and as I watched her drop her walls, as I swooned over Wes pushing his way through them to show her that life was precious and not take it for granted I fell in love with her more and more and Wes completely had my heart.

“Every time you close your eyes, regardless of where I am or where you are, I want you to remember this.” Wes

Wes has his own tortured secrets and boy….did they kill me! This pragmatic, witty, beautiful soul would give over everything he had to make Kiersten happy. I loved this man with all my heart.

“The future didn’t look as bleak. Because when she pulled back…when her eyes met mine, I saw hope.”

I highlighted pretty much this whole book; such was the beauty of Rachel Van Dyken’s words.  Ruin had everything.  It made me swoon (Wes….wow, I LOVED this guy!).  it made me laugh, it made me cry and it touched me deep in my heart.

“Don’t give up yet. Sometimes when we think God has written The End, what he really means is The Beginning.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Seize the day. Live each moment and never miss that chance to tell those special people in your life how much you love them. Life is fleeting. It’s fickle. Every moment is a blessing. Kiersten and Wesley reiterated that and their love story made my heart swell.  Their story is one of hope, innocence, love and belief.  An absolute MUST READ!

Gitte: I actually think that in its purity this is one of the more beautifully written stories about this tough subject out there at the moment. The Author’s words just invoked such pure heart felt emotion, they set the mood, and consequently the atmosphere was palpable. Having both Kiersten and Wes’ pov’s worked so well! I felt like I got completely under the skin and into the hearts of both characters.

“That’s how you can tell when someone has a good heart….When you want to be the one to make it beat.” – Wes

 “Maybe I didn’t dream because for once in my life I was living it.” – Kiersten

I wish everyone would stick this book on their reading list. Be swept away and experience a wonderful story whilst being reminded of how beautiful life can truly be if we breathe and live each moment to its full potential. We could all learn something from Wes and Kiersten. Rachel Van Dyken I salute you for making me cry and feel with such intensity!

 Jenny: 4.5 Stars
Gitte: 5.0 Stars

ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review.

RUIN by RACHEL VAN DYKEN
amazon us || amazon uk

ruin

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Filed under 5 Stars, Our Reviewers, Pick an Author, Rachel Van Dyken, Reviews by Gitte, Reviews by Jenny

ELITE (Eagle Elite #1) by RACHEL VAN DYKEN – Review

elite

 SYNOPSIS

When I won the annual Eagle Elite College Scholarship lottery, I was thrilled. After all, my grandma had just died and I wanted to take care of my aging grandpa — he couldn’t be a farmer in Wyoming forever. And graduating from Eagle Elite meant opportunity.
But I wasn’t counting on meeting Nixon.
Nor was I counting on the rules of the Elect.
1. Do not touch The Elect.
2. Do not look at The Elect.
3. Do not speak to The Elect.
And worst of all? Don’t discover the secret they hide, because in the end, you may just realize… it’s about you.

*This is a New Adult Book, blood, violence, cursing, sexual references, and drug use. Not recommended for those under 17.*

Elite collage

 

Review by Jenny & Gitte

Gitte: I have to say this book turned into something I was not expecting at all. There was violence, drama and highly emotional scenes with romance thrown in. Oh and there were cows, both the animal kind and the human variety hahaha.

I really enjoyed this story for what it was, but have to say the latter part was my favourite, we got all kinds of intrigue, drama and suspense.  In some ways this came across as two books in one if that makes sense with the first half being kind of slow and very YA.

This Author is brilliant and is definitely a one-click for me after having read a few of her books now. Her writing is flawless and she writes with emotions and humour. Her one-liners floor me and her characters are multi-layered.

I would say that this was in my opinion more YA than NA and should be marketed as such to make sure readers know what to expect romance wise. So my rating is based on a YA comparison.

The actual story once it got going was addictive and the characters were very well written. I may be in the minority though when I say that I completely fell for the guy who wasn’t the main character. Don’t get me wrong I loved Nixon but if I had the choice, Chase is my man! What did you think Jenny?

Jenny: What did I think Gitte? Well first off I have to say that Rachel Van Dyken saved the day again. After just finishing a pretty hard and emotional story we needed something fun, something that allowed us to just read and enjoy and take us away for a little while and Elite did just that and more.  This was definitely a surprise and I didn’t expect it to be so full of intrigue and drama and unexpected twists.

It was certainly more YA especially in the first half and my rating also reflects that feeling. I agree that the second half of this story really hit its straps and took us somewhere else entirely and I for one loved it.

This author will definitely be giving my 1Click trigger finger a work out because I too have fallen in love with her style of writing, her engaging characters and the humor she injects into a story. Her one liners certainly floor me and she makes reading her stories an absolute delight.

“Oh gosh, I have officially died and gong to magazine model hell” – Trace

Gitte: So we have Trace who became an orphan at age six and was consequently brought up by her grandparents in farm country leaving her quite naïve and innocent, which at times I have to say, I found slightly annoying but at other times sweet and adorable. I felt for her so bad when she was thrown into drama and crazy arse situations at her new school with a crowd of scary and bullish fellow students called the Elect. Her world literally turned upside down and this girl didn’t have a clue what hit her. The truth hurts as they say and literally comes when you least expect it to and bites you in the bum or pulls a gun at your face….

Nixon, Chase and Phoenix were awful and I thought uh oh…I am not going to like any of them. But…huge but, as the story developed I soon fell in fictional character love with all but Phoenix. You’ll find out why.

“Don’t touch the Elect. Don’t breathe the same air as the Elect, and don’t….Just don’t.”

Nixon was lush; a gorgeous tattooed and pierced bad arse who was at first really quite unpleasant and evil but behind this façade he was protective and loved with passion. His character and transformation when truths come out was really quite surprising and I LOVED it.

“I’ll protect you until the day I die, even if it means I have to protect you from myself. Because in protecting you from me, I was protecting you from them.” – Nixon

Now as for Chase, I can’t say exactly why, but I fell in complete love and preferred him to Nixon. He was not only fierce; he was also so protective, passionate and loving and had this powerful way about him that had me swooning. He was brutally vicious one minute, then the powerful protector the next.  Actually, can I have a Nixon/Chase sarnie Jenny?

Jenny:  Yes you can have that sarnie but only if I’m invited!!! Nixon and Chase….yummmy!

“I couldn’t stop staring.  I mean, the guys were attractive, but Nixon was a step above the rest. He was chaotic perfection” Trace

Trace’s world certainly got tipped upside down and every day for her was a challenge.  What should have been a wonderful experience for her soon changed into something very challenging and she was tested to the max.  At times she appeared so strong but she also frustrated me a little though I sympathised with her because she was out of her depth so many times.

There was such a great cast of characters and nothing was as it seemed.  Nixon caused her whiplash with the way he blew hot and cold and only added to the confusion she felt and reminded her how out of her depth was in her surrounding.

Geez, that boy had more mood swings than grandma when she went through menopause” – Trace

Nixon and Chase….where do we start?  Nixon was bossy, antagonising, gorgeous and protective and could be such an arrogant dick but oh I did love him from the start. What is it about these guys? LOl Once you learn his reasons you fall in love with him even more. He’s quick witted though intense and I can see why Trace was drawn to him.

“Oh do continue, I love getting reprimanded. You gonna spank me later too? – Nixon

I enjoyed this book for what it was. A good fun read that was exactly what I needed at the time.  I escaped into the world of the Elite. The secretive world which I can’t wait to go back to. Please oh please let us have Chace’s story because like you Gitte, he definitely stole my heart. What a gorgeous, fiercely protective friend he was. I want to know more about him.  He was divine!Yep, this one ticked the boxes for the escape I needed.

Gitte: So yeah I enjoyed it, but preferred the second half of the book for sure. I hope Chase gets his own story and I cannot wait for the next book in the series as this one leaves you hanging a bit with all the drama. I do hope that there will be less emphasis on the YA element though in the next one.

“The last name Abandonato either covers the sin or gets you killed. Either way the outcome is the same, I guess.”

“And what’s that?”

“You’re never free.”

Gitte: 4 stars
Jenny:4 stars

Arc supplied for an honest review

heart cross

 

Check out and purchase Elite here

Elite (Eagle Elite)

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Filed under 4 Stars, Our Reviewers, Pick an Author, Rachel Van Dyken, Reviews by Gitte, Reviews by Jenny

The Bet by Rachel Van Dyken

the bet pic

Synopsis:

“I have a proposition for you…”

Kacey should have run the minute those words left Seattle millionaire Jake Titus’s mouth. Instead, she made a deal with the devil in hopes of putting her past behind her once and for all.

Four days.

She could do four days!

But she wasn’t counting on Jake’s older brother Travis being there to witness their farce of an engagement.

One thing is for certain.

One brother is right for her.

One wants a lifetime.

And one is in league with the devil.

She should have gotten Jake’s signature in blood.

THE BET is available to purchase below
Amazon US | Amazon UK

The bet Collage

Review by Jenny & Gitte

Gitte: I have to say I really enjoyed The Bet. It was a really sweet, funny and light read. One of those that you can read in one sitting with a smile on your face and one that slots perfectly in between darker more emotional reads. There were so many reasons why I loved it. Firstly I am a sucker for friends to lovers’ stories and secondly, it had one of the most wickedly funny Grandma’s in it ever!

Jenny: Absolutely Gitte. This was just the right read at just the right time. It was fun, sexy, sweet and indeed a nice light read that I became completely lost in.  The Grandma was hilarious! She practically stole every scene in the book.  This was a three way friends to lovers triangle with a twist so it was double the fun.

“Nothing makes a guy run faster than knowing he could have it all and lose it all, with one woman”

Gitte:  Kacey has grown up with Jake and Travis and there is so much history between the three of them and neither one can hide from the other, they share a past. Not all so good though. There are a lot of secrets and emotions in the bonds that ties them as well as tragedy.  The humour was excellent; I fell in love with Travis and Kacey who never really grew out of their banter and shenanigans.  

“Oh gosh it’s moving! It’s so gross! Can’t you just like, flex your butt or something?” – Kacey

“Why, yes….Why don’t I just clench my butt muscles in hopes that it will shock the spider enough to crawl back into the hell hole it came out of.” – Travis

Travis was lush. He was a romantic and gave his heart away a long time ago. He made me laugh and he made my heart ache with the unrequited love. Despite being a gorgeous and passionate man, he had this child-like humour which I love and for a man of few words, used to being in the shade of his brother, the words he did say melted my heart!

“Do you really think I’m beautiful?” – Kacey

“No. I think you’re breathtaking….I think you’re life altering….I think you’re uniquely, wonderfully …you.” – Travis

Travis and Kacey are both on a path of self-discovery in this story, but it is a path neither would have taken unless for the meddling hand of the coolest Grandma ever!

“Where have you been all my life?” – Kacey

“Home,” “I’ve been home, waiting for you” – Travis

I have to say that Jake mostly irritated me but at least he knew his short comings and I understood that this guy is completely lost trying to either find himself-which is the hard way or living up to his persona-which is the easy way.

This guy has a lot of pressure passed on to him and he sees no way out except for the short gratuitous thrills landing at his feet everywhere he goes handed to him on a platter.

Grandma absolutely stole every scene she was in and I wanted to pick her out the kindle and become mine.

“Are you sure he’d be okay with this?” – Kacey

“Oh honey, why else would he give me a key?” – Grandma

“He didn’t give you a key. You lifted ten rocks to find the hide-a-key.” – Kacey

“Same thing” – Grandma

Jenny:  I loved the banter and fun between Travis and Kacey.  The fight on the kitchen floor was priceless and really endeared me to these two.  Really? Did these three really grow up and out of their childhood rivalries? No, and that’s what was so much fun.

“I don’t live in the city” He smoldered. Wait, did guys smolder? She looked again. Apparently they did.  Kacey

 Kacey had a lot of past baggage to deal with and coming back to her hometown, albeit under abnormal circumstances was just what she needed.  The old saying about “being right under your nose” was spot on here and Travis was my guy from the get go. This beautiful man who held his feelings in check won me over immediately, and when he did give his heart…well, I was a gonner!

“Don’t do that, don’t look down when I give you compliments” –  Travis

Jake was way too intense and well….he was a bit of a dog to be honest, though he certainly gave me a few giggles.

Kacey was torn between the two and watching her decipher her feelings was told through humor and love and it really was endearing and funny.

Gitte:  So yeah I really enjoyed this story for what it was. It had great characters, fab humour and sweet romance. I would have liked to have more “afters” perhaps in an epilogue also I have to say that the cover does this book a great dis-service. The couple on the cover looks nothing like how the characters are described in the story which is a pet peeve of mine. It takes some of the shine off I have to say. It does however have a great message:

“It’s important to live and not get so hung up on the past. The past is called the past for a reason. If you are constantly looking behind you, your eyes aren’t on the road ahead. You don’t drive a car that way, so why would you live your life that way? – Kacey’s Mum

Jenny: This really was a lovely, light read and whilst I did get frustrated a couple of times with the characters actions, overall I did really enjoy it.  Friends to lovers stories…..is there anything better, and when told in a fun light manner, with a potential love triangle with lovable characters, well..how can you not enjoy it.

 

Gitte: 4 Stars
Jenny: 4 Stars

THE BET by RACHEL VAN DYKEN
amazon us || amazon uk

the bet pic

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Filed under 4 Stars, Our Reviewers, Pick an Author, Rachel Van Dyken, Reviews by Gitte, Reviews by Jenny