Book Review

Impulsive by HelenKay Dimon

B-

Title: Impulsive
Author: HelenKay Dimon
Publication Info: Kensington 2010
ISBN: 9780758229090
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Cover In case you missed my post last week, HelenKay Dimon writes wonderful dialogue. When her characters talk, I don’t doubt for a minute that they’re real. They’re funny and witty and sharp and real, and when I read her writing, that’s my favorite part.

This book has some wonderful dialogue (you can read an example in that entry) and reading the exchanges between Katie and Eric was easily the best part of the book.

Unfortunately, having a best part of the book also comes with a least favorite part: there’s a distinct lack of emotional conflict in this story. They meet under difficult circumstances: Eric is attending the wedding of his former long-time girlfriend Deanna, and Katie has been hired by a friend to spy on Eric, who is something of a public figure, while she works as a waitress at the wedding. She expects to watch him, then report to her friend, get paid and move on. When she sees Eric for the first time, she can’t stop looking at him – and when he notices her, well, they start noticing each other up close and personal in a quiet location at the wedding location in a big hurry. The wedding guests might have heard bells or the sound of rice hitting the pavement, but Eric and Katie heard some boom boom friction from where they were instead. 

There are other issues between them as well: Katie is much younger than Eric. He’s a very politically powerful attorney in Hawaii, and she’s just figuring out who she is after years of drifting along and getting into some serious trouble. Katie’s family doesn’t necessarily trust that she’s grown up and changed for the better.  Eric is up for election and is campaigning while trying to do his job.

One notable part I want to examine up front is the fact that Eric is Japanese-American, and deals with misconceptions about his culture and heritage, even from Katie.

The scenes between Katie and Eric that dealt with his cultural background were some of the more difficult and revealing scenes in the book, and made Eric a more multi-dimensional character from my perspective. He wasn’t Japanese-American because Dimon said so. There are multiple scenes that reveal his layered and sometimes conflicting cultural background, from his parents’ family and religious practices to his own career, and I had a very real sense of how being Japanese-American (his term) shaped his current perspective-  and how it did not. The scenes that deal with the cultural conflicts between Katie and Eric are the most powerful emotionally, and I wish there had been more of them.

In contrast, Eric is supposed to be all twisted up about the wedding, about his feelings for Katie, about his changing goals and the troubles of having political ambitions, but while the dialogue is all tell (and very little show) and all awesome, the emotional depth of the characters is almost always told and not shown. There’s a distance to the writing that keeps me from really empathizing with the characters, especially Katie. Mostly I’m entertained by them – and that’s not a bad thing, except when unpleasant things are happening.

The biggest conflict I felt in the book was how difficult it was for Eric and Katie to keep their hands off one another, even when bigger issues were being addressed elsewhere. They are supremely attracted to each other. Like, downed wires in a puddle slicked with gasoline-style attracted. That plus the dialogue makes for a readerly good time.

But where there ought to have been tangible pain or personal conflict, there was a lot of rumination, narration, or just plain descriptive distance, and that’s where the book fell short for me. Horny pants do not a book-length conflict make, and the other issues dealt with were written in such a way (can you tell I’m trying to avoid spoilers here?) that they weren’t as real and present for me.

That said, I didn’t want to stop reading. I kept looking for the next scene with Katie and Eric, knowing it would be crackling sexy. I loved Eric’s changing understanding of himself and his goals, and the ways in which Katie changed his viewpoint in such a short (but very hot) time. I wish Katie had grown the same amount as well, but the dynamics of Eric’s character kept me hooked into this novel for a long streak of reading.


Impulsive is available from Amazon, for the Kindle, Book Depository, Powells, and BN.com.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    I enjoyed this book.  I applaud HelenKay for giving us a complex male hero outside of the white Anglo Saxon mold. 

    And a book set in Hawaii!

  2. 2
    Vixenbib says:

    Thanks Sarah. Firstly, I enjoyed your review – I wouldn’t buy this but I would be happy to read it if I found a copy in a library or charity shop. Secondly, what in-the-name-of-very-cute-rodents is the Katie-cover-model thinking of, wearing those spiky metallic heels ON THE BEACH?  Insanity.

    friend64
    “…will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m 64?” (Still 49.)

  3. 3
    Alpha Lyra says:

    but while the dialogue is all tell (and very little show) and all awesome, the emotional depth of the characters is almost always told and not shown.

    Did you mean the reverse about the dialogue (all show, very little tell)?

  4. 4
    HelenMac says:

    Japanese American Hero done fairly well, eh? May just have to hunt down this book, afterall. hmmmm HMMMMM

  5. 5
    Alina says:

    I read this last night after reading the entry about he dialogue and quite enjoyed it. I think my biggest problem wih it was the cloying epilogue. Mu favourite part was probably the realistic emotions from Katie regarding jealousy: when she knew she was just looking for excuses to be angry, but just wanted to be angry, dammit! Some of Eric’s jealousy wasn’t as easy to relate to, the earliest instances of t felt manufactured for the reader.

  6. 6
    SB Sarah says:

    @alphalyra – yes, I did mean the reverse. *headdesk*

    @Alina: I am with you – I liked that Katie wanted to be mad, even though she knew she was creating excuses in order to pull it off. I found it easier to relate to Katie more than to Eric, mostly because he’s a very controlled and wants to present an invulnerable personality. He did it too well for me as a reader.

    @HelenMac: Yes, the Japanese-American elements of Eric’s character, both in how he related to characters who weren’t of Japanese descent, and in how he related to his own family and their longstanding traditions, is supremely well done in the book.

  7. 7
    orangehands says:

    I’m with HelenMac – a well done J-A hero sounds great, and I always like to read well-done dialogue (easy way to pick up tips on how to do it well).

    I’m a little iffy on how Katie meets him (the spying thing), but if the writing is done well enough…

  8. 8
    Lisa K says:

    I’m a fan of HelenKay’s snappy dialog and her choice of interesting male leads…

    Impulsive is definitely on my TBR list! :)

    Thanks for the review!

    Lisa

  9. 9
    Leilani says:

    I enjoy Dimon’s books but as part Hawaiian I find she is hit or miss with her cultural knowledge. She writes a great tale most times, but I wish she would do a little bit more in depth research into Hawaii as a cultural and a people.

  10. 10

    This fantastic romance author is back, and back with a vengeance.From the first paragraph, Katie Long’s life made me want to toss this whole daily grind thing away, and head to Hawaii where her day was being spent in brilliant sunshine surrounded by the fresh scents of saltwater, pikake, and the aftershave lotion of the most amazingly handsome man she’d ever met.

  11. 11

    It took me a while to warm up to the romance – mostly because Eric and Katie are so different. And yeah, the age difference needed to be sold to me. But I liked this one. Not as much as I loved Holding Out For A Hero (the darker elements knocked my socks off) – but still, pretty much trademark HKD. Good stuff.

  12. 12

    Sarah – Thanks for the review and very kind comments about my dialogue abilities.  I’m thinking it’s probably proof I talk too much. :)

    Thanks to all for the lovely comments about my books.  They are very much appreciated.

    Leilani – I’m really sorry if I got any of the cultural references wrong.  My inlaws live in Hawaii and my hubby grew up there, so I depend on them (and my experiences in Hawaii) for info.  I’m not sure what you’re referring to, but I probably misunderstood/misinterpreted something.  All mistakes are mine…though I do plan on telling my husband it’s his fault.  He’ll love that!

  13. 13
    Jordan says:

    I am much of a reader and I smell good content from a mile away. Well, this is ,quite interesting book but I do not feel it has the potential to sell big, and about the cover do you really think wearing heels on the beach is the norm? I find it confusing and misplaced!

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