Audiobook Review: BOMBSHELL (Helle’s Belles #1) by Sarah MacLean

Bombshell (Hell's Belles, #1)Bombshell by Sarah MacLean

Sorry to say this audiobook didn’t work for me. The narrator sounded manic and frequently high-pitched, and lacked subtlety, nuance, and emotional range. It was like she only had one perky speed.

As far as the story, the romance was fun at the start when Caleb and Sesily were bickering, but after they made love, their feelings were all over the place, but again narrated in an irritating perky tone. Their repetitive internal monologue began to irritate me as well because it didn’t tell me anything new about the characters’ feelings. I still didn’t know what Sesily saw in him. I didn’t know why she fell in love with him 2 years ago and was still in love with him now, because it seemed like all they had was a sexual attraction. When they first met, it seemed like they hardly even talked and got to know each other.

Caleb’s angst was also just too much. I trusted Sesily more than he did. I knew Sesily and friends would come up with a brilliant scheme and make things right. Because that’s what they do! They’re superheroes! I liked the story most when Sesily wasn’t with Caleb, when she was out having fun with her friends, making plans and being all subversive. I loved the fabulous women, a Fantastic Four, who put men in their place, rescue abused and mistreated women in bad marriages or engaged to bad men.

Caleb and Sesily experienced and viewed the world so differently. Caleb’s worldview lacked imagination, weighed down by his dark past and his overall pessimism. Sesily’s worldview was imbued with possibility and daring. It was ridiculous and frustrating that he refused to see or do things her way. He was so afraid and played it so safe. He wouldn’t even try. He should have been more supportive. A better man would work beside her, not doubt her, but risk it all with her.

Sesily deserved a man who would be at her side, who would be willing to be her sidekick, who wouldn’t see her work simply as mischief and chaos, who wouldn’t try to correct or manage her behavior. Instead, Caleb acted like a cis heteronormative male, overprotective, and aligned with society’s view of how women should properly behave.

The only progressive value they seemed to mutually agree on was not having children, because not every happy couple wants kids, after all. When they had sex, they said they both had a method to prevent pregnancy, though the book didn’t say what kind of birth control they were using. Caleb said he would take care of her, but I don’t know if that meant he would take care of her in case she got pregnant or he would take care not to get her pregnant? In any case, he definitely did not use any protection.

This series has potential. Sesily and her women friends are fun, independent, creative, progressive, and passionate. They can take care of themselves and don’t need men to protect them, because they have made their own support network that doesn’t solely rely on their power and privilege. I want to see what more they will do to subvert their culture that oppresses women, and I hope their love interests in future books will be true partners both in love and in crime.

*Audiobook review copy received from the publisher.

View all my reviews

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