Blog Tour, Excerpt, ARC Review & Giveaway: Toxic by Nicole Blanchard


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“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.




“It turns out when you fall in love with a villain, you also turn into one.”

3.5 stars!

This is my first read by this author, and the blurb of this book really grabbed me. I am a fan of dark romance, but this book completely took me by surprise with its intensity and twisty storyline. I was glued to my kindle from start to finish.

First of all, I need to warn that this is a dark book that is full of violence, brutality, torture and abuse (both physical and sexual). It’s full of triggers and definitely not a book for people who struggle with such subject matter. It’s actually quite disturbing to read in some places, but it sets the mood and certainly drags you into the dark and dangerous lives of these characters inhabit.

Tessa is a nurse in a high security prison. She is married to the warden, who is a cruel, sadistic and violent, but despite her attempts at escape, she remains trapped in her life with little hope of anything better. But an encounter with a new inmate changes everything. Gracin sees her – truly sees her, and his interest in her takes her completely by surprise.

“I’m not sure what makes you think you have the right to interfere, but I don’t need to be saved. I don’t need anything from you.”
“That’s where you’re wrong. I think I’m exactly what you need.”

Their encounters may be brief, but they are profound, and Tessa soon finds herself completely captivated with the enigmatic, dangerous criminal, powerless to stop her attraction to him. And when all of that sexual tension explodes, it’s hot, dirty and dangerous, and absolutely addictive.

“You think you don’t want this?” he asks, and I know he doesn’t mean what he’s doing to me, because I can’t deny that I do. Not when I’m screaming for him to do it harder, faster. “You shouldn’t.” His teeth bite into my shoulder. “You shouldn’t want me. I am not a nice man. I am not a good man. I do bad things for bad people.” He licks the bite, and his mouth skims up my throat. “I want to do bad things to you.”

Things becomes complicated when Tessa helps Gracin escape, but that is just the beginning of this dark and twisted story. I’m not going to ruin it for you because you just need to dive in and experience this book, but holy damn, it’s intense! It’s violent and brutal with lots of surprises, and you’re never really sure what’s going on or what’s going to happen, and I love the sense of mystery as it all unfolds.

This is a really fast-moving book. There’s so much happening, and with a lot of it unexpected, I struggled to put this book down. Tessa’s journey is exciting and liberating, and at times horrifying and tragic, and I loved the development of her character. Her strength and bravery really shine as she endures the unimaginable, and I was really impressed with her courage.

He’s all the things I know I should run from. All I care about is he makes me feel more alive than I’ve ever felt in my life. With him, I feel like I truly live, like I can breathe.

And Gracin… whoa. He’s a mysterious one, for sure. Like Tessa, I was never really sure what was going on with him, but I really like the way his character is written, and his complexities add to the mystery and intrigue of the story.

I enjoyed this book. Like I said, it’s not always a comfortable read, but it’s definitely a story that grips you, and I felt like I was a part of the wild adventure with these characters. The love story is there, but remember that this is a dark romance so there is that unexpected and slightly deviant edge to it, but it fits in with the story and I thought it was really well done.

What we have is dangerous and volatile, but it’s also inevitable.

3.5 stars.

An Advanced Review Copy was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.




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.






The Escapist Book Blog is not responsible for this giveaway


About the Author

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.


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