I have to admit, small-town romances are a not-so-secret indulgence of mine. One would think that living in a small town, I would be immune to their charms. And yet, whenever a new story falls into my hands, I tear through its pages voraciously, devouring every word until my heart is full and I’m swooning.
That’s an accurate description of how eagerly I tore through Collide by Dallas Ryan, the first installment of the Gladewater Series.
Before I start singing this book’s praises, let me tell you about the story. Dani Davis is an ICU nurse, based in Dallas, Texas. A medical emergency summons her home to Gladewater, Texas. Unbeknownst to her, Levi Cooper, her first love, has also answered the call home when his aging mother can no longer support running the family ranch. Their end had been sudden and largely unexplained, which left Dani treading in uncertain waters when Levi came back into her life. As her aunt recovers from her stroke, Levi and Dani grow closer, and the questions she’s been asking for years are answered. Some, more startling and earth-shattering than she could have ever imagined.
I want to start off this review with a few disclaimers. For starters, this book does include a few trigger warnings: child/spousal abuse and substance abuse (alcoholism). To the best of my knowledge, these triggers are not listed in the book or on any promotional sites/materials. However, if you are sensitive to these subjects (particularly child/spousal abuse), please proceed with caution.
Secondly, Collide is written from multiple character perspectives, and head-hopping (jumping from one character’s perspective to another) does happen. As a reader, I was able to keep up with the transitions between characters, however, if you are sensitive to head-hopping/have a personal dislike, it is rather prominent in the text.
Now that the disclaimers are out of the way let’s get to the good part! Collide was a stellar opening to the Gladewater Series. As soon as I finished, I actually glared at my physical TBR shelf. I was upset at the number of books I have to get through before I can “justify” moving on to the second book, Unbroken. Rest assured, the book is already living on my Kindle, just waiting for me to dive in.
Ryan’s writing style is the perfect balance of straightforward and poetic, creating a beautifully immersive reading experience. I, personally, am someone who does not enjoy head-hopping, but after a few chapters, I stopped noticing altogether and found myself sucked deeper into the story. I was caught in the riptide of falling in love with the town and the characters who inhabit it. I rooted for Dani’s Aunt, my heart hurt for Levi’s mom, and don’t even get me started on the other romances that started to bloom before our eyes.
Collide will be the perfect indulgence for any small-town romance lover. It has everything you could ask for. Second chances, just a little bit of steam, and a swoon-worthy book boyfriend who only wants to do the right thing, even if it shoots him in the foot in the end.
Have you read the Gladewater Series? If not, do you love small-town romances/stories? Tell me about them!
You can find Dallas Ryan on: Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.
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