Blog Tour: Toxic: Kim Karr

Kim Karr
(A standalone novel)
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RELEASE DATE: July 7th, 2015

Sometimes you have to wonder if your life is just too good to be true.

Is it real or just an illusion?
Does the man lying beside you really love you like he says he does?
If the answer is yes, you’re meant to live happily ever after.
If the answer is no, you’re living my life…
and nothing will ever be the same.

I know I should walk away, but I can't.

I’ll take whatever I can get for as long as it lasts.
I know when it’s over…
I’ll never find another man like him. 

Phoebe St. Claire

Feeling a bit drunk and overwhelmed with so many and so few choices at the same time, I needed some time alone and snuck off toward the beach path.

I ran toward the ocean and twirled in the sand as the wind blew around me. Once I started to feel dizzy from twirling, I still wasn’t ready to head back to the party, so I took the path that would lead me to the large Olympic-sized pool. I tugged my sandals off with thoughts of putting my feet in the water to rinse the mud and sand away. As I approached the pool, I noticed how it glowed like it was lit by small pale fires. Lost in the enchantment of it, the sudden movement beneath the surface startled me.

A fair-haired boy emerged from the water. He pulled himself up and out so quickly that I was momentarily stunned. And then when he drank me in with his eyes, I shuddered.

I couldn’t help it, the way he looked at me just made me shiver. No one had ever looked at me like that before and I found myself gazing back into his intense eyes.

He was utterly beautiful. His bare chest was sculpted but not overly bulky like Danny or Jamie. They worked out every day pumping obnoxious amounts of iron to look the way they did. In contrast, the boy standing before me had a swimmer’s build.

He stood stoic and a cautious look crossed his face. He was long and lean in a pair of bright green neon swim trunks.

Right away I could tell he didn’t care what anyone thought about him.

I loved the idea of that.

So I smiled at him.

He shook his head and his hair fell into his eyes.

I wanted to reach out and push it away. It wasn’t long, but it wasn’t short. It was perfect.

“Hey,” he said, grabbing a towel off the ground.

It didn’t belong to the club. It was small, beige, and a bit worn—not the large hunter-green fluffy ones monogrammed in white I’d always gotten when I used to come here to swim as a kid.

“Hey,” I said back, swinging my sandals nervously.

He grabbed a pair of jeans that lay next to where the towel had been and walked right by me.

I turned to watch him as he strode into one of the cabanas and dropped his trunks. I froze and squeezed my eyes shut, thinking I shouldn’t be watching him but then opened them quickly when I couldn’t resist maybe catching a glimpse.

“Didn’t your parents ever tell you it isn’t polite to stare?” His voice was low and sexy, and it tugged me out of my own head.

I put my hands on my hips. “Didn’t your parents ever teach you not to undress in mixed company?”

He pulled his jeans on and laughed. “My mother might have mentioned that once or twice but I’ve never been good at following the rules.”

And it didn’t escape my notice that he didn’t put any underwear on first.

Hot. Totally and completely hot.

I didn’t see anything I shouldn’t have seen, it was too dark, but something inside me electrified at the thought of seeing him naked and I stepped closer. That’s when I noticed the scuffed-up black work boots on one of the lounges with a T-shirt thrown next to them.

I raised a brow. “Is this your changing room?”

He laughed again but this time added a smile and put his hands up. “Okay you caught me. I better get out of here before anyone else does.”

He was adorable and charming and my heart skipped a beat or two.

Then I stepped even closer and entered the cabana entrance, effectively blocking his way. “Why? You’re not doing anything wrong.”

He shrugged but he didn’t try to move around me. “I usually swim in the ocean but when the water is too rough, like tonight, I come here.”

I bit my lip in contemplation before speaking. “Does it really matter if you get caught?”

He crossed his arms over his bare chest. “Let’s just say it’s not just the swimming. It’s more that I’ve been caught doing a few too many things that I shouldn’t have been doing in the past.”

A bad boy.

The thought made my pulse thunder. “So you’re not a member at this club?”

He cleared his throat and shifted from foot to foot. “No,” he laughed but his laugh was anything but genuine. “Are you?”

I hesitated as I considered my answer. “No, I was just walking the beach and wanted to rinse my feet. I’m Phoebe,” I said extending my hand. Technically, I wasn’t lying. I wasn’t a member, my parents were. I hadn’t even been here in years. And I was out for a walk.

Amusement danced in his blue eyes. “Jeremy,” he said back.

When I chewed on my lower lip, I noticed how his eyes focused on it.

Mine focused on the entirety of his mouth—his strong, firm jaw, his sensuous lips, and his tongue that had snuck out to lick his lips.

That mouth.

It was almost too much.

toxic teaser.jpg

I was intrigued by the prologue then the story gradually unravels in this book  in Phoebe's point of view in time jumps. We meet a woman lost and still longing for a past love, but who is trying to move on. We see her interactions with her close group of friends who are all a bit lost and not completely able to follow their dreams. It is obvious in her circle that money can't buy happiness, fulfillment,  or love. 

And then she comes face to face with her past...the elusive HIM ...Jeremy McQueen. And as her past collides with her present, her whole world is shifted on its axis. Many things have changed, but can they move on from their past and possibly start again?
I loved Jeremy. I appreciated his bad boy edge and dirty talking ways, but also his sweet, sensitive, vulnerable side. I enjoyed the dichotomy of the younger kid with attitude and a more mature successful man. But he was definitely not immune to making errors in judgment and sometimes he kept secrets that had the potential to be damaging.

I had a love/hate relationship with Phoebe. I liked her sass, spunk and determination. I liked her with Jeremy and felt their connection. I enjoyed the rapport with her and her friends especially Jamie and Lily, But sometimes I wanted to shake her. Some mistakes she seemed to repeat and often did not provide full disclosure. So sometimes she frustrated me. But overall, she was likable and a woman who was just trying to find her own way and be happy after not being fulfilled for so long.

These two people shared a connection that was hard to deny. But along with it came the past pain and trust issues that were hard to get over. Their lives were complicated with many factors causing stress, anxiety, tension, and drama.  And even in the present when they wanted a second chance, they couldn't always escape the same insecurities, jealousy, doubt, and fears. They were so consumed by each other that sometimes it took over their common sense and distracted them from other issues. They both made mistakes and could be impulsive. And they both didn't always trust fully. And there were just enough situations throwing doubt and twisting the truth. Due to this, sometimes they so seemed toxic for each other. But when it was just them and they were in synch, they could also be so very good. They were extremely passionate, loving, spontaneous, tender and understanding. But with all of their baggage at times it was hard to see if it was real or just an illusion of happiness.

There were little mysteries, secrets, half truths, and lies gradually revealed throughout the story making it fun to guess and theorize. It was difficult to determine who was being true and who could be manipulating.

She had a wonderful support system of long time friends that had their own drama going on that added depth and humor to the story. There were family dynamic issue and definitely some people who would like nothing more than to drive a wedge between them. The whole world they lived in thrived on perceptions, illusions, money, power, and popularity. And there were some situations that left an opening for doubt and mistrust between them.

Are they strong enough to truly trust and stand together or will they split apart and lose each other again?

It was told in Phoebe's point of view in present and flashbacks with an epilogue in male point of view. It took me a little bit to get drawn in and get the full picture of what was going on but I soon became engaged  and invested. This was Phoebe's journey towards finding herself and passion, and her rocky story towards finding love. It had twists and turns. It was a humorous, angsty, dramatic, steamy, emotional epic love story that spanned years. There were secrets, intrigue, and betrayal that showcased the true importance of honesty and trust in order to build and maintain healthy relationships even during challenging circumstances. But also demonstrated how hard it was to maintain continued happiness even once it was within their grasp.

I was gifted a beta copy in exchange for an honest review. 
 Toxic is full of drama -- jealousy, mistrust, and poor communication. Phoebe and Jeremy had a whirlwind summer that came crashing down on them. Both had been keeping secrets and telling half-truths that finally caught up with each and ruined them. Years later, they are each still trying to put that summer behind them and move on. Phoebe is engaged to marry a man her family approves of when her friends gather to send off one of their own. Too much alcohol and an overbearing acquaintance puts Phoebe face to face with Jeremy McQueen once again.

Beyond the drama, there was always something going on outside Jeremy and Phoebe's relationship that kept me turning the page even when I would start to feel like their drama was over the top. Phoebe’s business dealings running her family’s hotel chain, her friends’ own drama, and a few other side stories that were progressing at the same time kept my attention focused on the story as a whole.

I loved her group of friends. Long time friends, her girlfriends knew something had happened that last summer in the Hamptons, but only knew bits and pieces. But it was their constant support that I loved the most. They all had their own dramas, but were always willing to come running whenever Phoebe or any member of the group needed the support.

There were great twists that made Toxic into something so much more than it seemed on the surface. I was not expecting some of the twists that came out, especially towards the end and I loved those surprises.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Kim Karr

I live in Florida with my husband and four kids. I've always had a love for reading books and writing. Being an English major in college, I wanted to teach at the college level but that was not to be. I went on to receive an MBA and became a project manager until quitting to raise my family. I currently work part-time with my husband and full-time embracing one of my biggest passions—writing. 


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