Phoenix, AZ, USA
I am going to review Collide and Pulse together here since they are both available on Audible. I was glad for that because the cliffhanger in Collide was frustrating and sad.
As a love story, my heart resonated with this one because I, too, had a love at first sight experience that is now into its 40th year of marriage. That's about where the similarity between my life and Emily's life ends, but it was enough for me to know that while romance novels are generally escapism, sometimes there are some very real aspects to the stories they tell.
Overall, the story was satisfying because I like good to overcome evil and HEA's. Even though there were moments in this story that were frustrating or made me roll my eyes, there was enough realism to the story that made it a cut above the typical rich young billionaire hero falls in love with beautiful but broken heroine.
There were some details in the story that didn't make sense. Here a few examples. If Emily (who definitely did not come from money) lived in CO, why did she go to Ohio State for a teaching degree? Likewise, why did her wealthy roommate/friend Olivia from NYC go to Ohio State for a degree relating to art? Why did filthy rich Gavin live in a fabulous penthouse that didn't have security at the building entrance that would prevent people from just showing up at his front door? These are minor details (and there were more), but they bugged me nonetheless. Stuff like that detracts from my enjoyment of a story.
The story flowed fairly well, but when Emily had an awful nightmare, I thought the author dropped the ball by not transitioning into that scene. It was just dropped into the storyline in a way that felt very manipulative. I thought she could have handled it better. The story had enough emotional highs and lows without that particular flashback to the original TV series "Dallas" to be thrown in there.
As for character development, the hero (Gavin) was very well fleshed out. A reader would have to be brain dead not to fall in love with him. Likewise for the villain, which rhymes with his name, Dillon. Of course, there was nothing likable about him; it was very easy to hate him. Very black and white dynamic with the hero and villain. I have mixed feelings about Emily. I think her relationship with her mother needed more detail in order to make Emily more empathetic.
The narrator was pretty bad. She did a fairly good job when she was reading in the 3rd person or doing Emily's voice. But that's about the only praise I can give her. Almost all the other characters' voices were so annoying that it almost ruined the books for me. Her NY accent was absurd. I wanted to push pencils in my ears whenever Trevor or Fallon were speaking. There were also numerous mispronunciations of words and glitches in the sentence or dialogue flow that made her narration of the story less than enjoyable.
The sound quality was pretty bad, too. For example, I could hear the narrator inhaling deeply between sentences in many places. Somebody on the production team should have made sure that the sound was properly mixed.
Lastly, since these books are under $10 each, don't use credits to purchase them. Paying cash for them is more economical, and despite my criticisms, I think the books are worth the money.
For those of us who are enjoying this series, Beautiful Bombshell paves the way for Will's story, Beautiful Player. It's a fun little romp in Vegas for Bennett's bachelor party.
It is not a stand alone book. I don't think it would make sense to anyone who has not read the other two main books in this series. On the other hand, it's not an essential part of the series (just like Beautiful Bitch was not an essential part of the series). But since the price is so low, it's worth buying.
I enjoyed the camaraderie among the men, and it was fun to get a bit of Chloe and Sara in this novella as well.
Jonathan Cole's narration of Max is great (as it was in Beautiful Stranger), but Sebastian York sounded too old to be Bennett. I'm hoping he does a better job in Beautiful Player.
This book had really good character development and is an excellent example of how romance novels don't have to be explicit to be enjoyable. I am disappointed that the second book in the series is abridged, because I would much rather listen to the full story. I think I will check out the book from the library so that I don't miss anything. This is a very good series!