Title: Collide (release date June 21, 2011, 352 pgs)
Author: Megan Hart
Redonk Nutshell: Woman that suffers with rare brain disorder finds love in two different times with the same man
Official Synopsis: A childhood accident left Emmaline vulnerable to disturbing fugue states that last only minutes, but feel like an eternity. The blackouts are unsettling but manageable…until she meets Johnny Dellasandro. The reclusive painter gained notoriety in the ’70s for his debauched lifestyle and raunchy art films. His naked body has achieved cult status, especially in Emm’s mind– she’s obsessed with the man, who’s grown even sexier with age. Today Johnny shuns the spotlight and Emm in particular…until she falls into a fugue on his doorstep. In that moment she’s transported back thirty years, crashing a party at Johnny’s place in his wild-man heyday — the night is a blur of flesh and heat that lingers on her skin long after she’s woken to the present. It happens again and again, each time-slip another mind-blowing orgy, and soon Emm can’t stop, though every episode leaves her weaker and weaker. She’s frightened by what’s happening to her her, but she’s even more terrified of losing this portal to the Johnny she wants so badly. The one who wants her, too, and takes her — every chance he gets.
Collide is the story of Emmaline, a thirty-something woman who has lived with a brain disorder since a childhood accident. She just got a place of her own, and for the first time is finally living her dream of being independent. Life has been pretty good and simple until Johnny Dellasandro walks into her daily coffee place and she finds herself inexplicably pulled to him. Johnny fucking Dellasandro is a star of the 70’s, the muse and model for many raunchy art pieces in the familiar style of Warhol. He is distant and cool to those around him, and at her friend’s urging, Emmaline dives into Johnny’s life by perusing his past work.
Suddenly, her fugues, or blackouts, start to get worse and less predictable. Worse, she finds she has no desire for them to end – she finds herself thrown into the 70’s world of Johnny Dellasandro. Inexplicably, she begins experiencing things with him that she comes to find actually happened in real life, not just in her mind, and she begins to wonder if there is something…supernatural…going on. In the real world, Emmaline and Johnny manage to come together, and the two begin a difficult trek of a relationship while Emmaline battles her increasing blackouts.
I very much enjoyed Collide. There are several subjective aspects of it that hit close to home for me. One, it’s set in Central Pennsylvania, where I myself am from. Two, Emmaline has a serious Doctor Who crush, which I can sympathize with. Ha.
I’ve read a few previous novels by Hart and have enjoyed all of them, so I was excited when I got my hands on this one. Hart’s writing style is casual, the tone of her novels tending to be very conversational, but without dating themselves. Emmaline’s conversations with her best friend are hilarious, at times, and had me smiling. Emm herself is a fiercely strong and stubborn woman, especially having to compensate for having a very nontraditional upbringing because of her health. I enjoyed watching her fascination with Johnny grow from guarded interest to outright obsession, especially when her blackouts threw her into an entirely different time and environment. It’s a reeling experience, and we can sympathize with Emmaline as she struggles to figure out what’s going on.
Johnny is an enjoyable character as well. He’s mature and somewhat brooding, your typical artist that lived through a hellish time in the 70’s. What makes him especially appealing is that fact that he is, at heart, a genuinely good guy, and he really comes through for Emmaline in her time of need.
What I’ve always enjoyed about Hart’s books are her near perfect fusion eroticism and romance. You’re guaranteed a good dose of toe-curling steam as well as a satisfied and, in most cases, realistic plot. Collide is a very steamy book, and the ending was incredibly heartwarming and endearing. I imagine Collide will draw some comparisons to The Time Traveler’s Wife, but undoubtedly I found this book to be an original and wonderful read.
Romance: 4/5 Raunch: 5/5