Wednesday, October 21, 2015

#TBRChallenge 2015: Everything and the Kitchen Sink
The Book: Impulse by JoAnn Ross

The Particulars: Romantic suspense, Pocket, 2006, In print

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: I honestly have no idea.  This isn't an autographed copy, so I don't think I picked it up at a conference, and the condition of the book is spectacular.  So I must have bought it new in a bookstore because the back cover blurb intrigued?  Your guess is as good as mine.

The Review: This book was a hot mess.  A readable hot mess, but a hot mess all the same.  As far as I can determine it's a stand-alone book, not connected in any way to any other books in the author's backlist.  And yet?  It's drowning in a sea of backstory and the author takes us out to dinner at The Trope Smorgasbord.

Once upon a time Will Bridger was working undercover vice in Savannah, Georgia.  Then he gets shot in a bust gone bad and loses his nerve.  It doesn't help that as he's lying in a hospital bed recovering from his gunshot wound he finds out his ex has died, leaving his teenage son motherless.  Oh, and he didn't know he had a teenage son.  Knowing he needs to make a change and knowing that he has an angry kid to now take care of, he moves back to his hometown of Hazard, Wyoming and is hired as the new Sheriff.

Faith Prescott has the late night radio show at the local station, and knew Will back in Savannah.  They had an affair while he was working a case that she was, unwittingly, wrapped up in.  Will makes his bust and their relationship hits the skids (because, like, duh).  She moves to Las Vegas, more stuff happens, she runs away to Hazard (Will said he was from there but he lied about everything else and it sounds like just the place to hide - so there you go) under an assumed identity.  Unfortunately her past seems to have found her in the form of a Las Vegas bounty hunter, and a pretty local teenager is found with her throat slashed out on a frozen lake.

So yeah, the backstory.  Good Lord there's a ton of it.  Faith's background alone is enough to make your head spin (sexually exploited child, teenage prostitute, unwittingly works for criminal, has affair with undercover cop, attracts stalker in Vegas, life falls apart in Vegas once stalker caught, goes to extreme lengths by running away, ends up in small town where serial killer sets up shop yada yada yada).  Then there's Will, the whole Savannah thing gone wrong, having his son dumped in his lap, his post-traumatic stress, his wild teenage years, his time in the military - and a partridge in a pear tree ::sing-song::.  Between all this baggage, none of which can possibly be explored with any depth in a 350 page novel, along with the suspense thread, and the fact that the author introduces us to several secondary characters - yeah, the "romance" here is totally Insta-Love.  Normally it would help that the characters have a shared history, but all of the backstory is "told" to the reader and I never got a good handle on who these characters were supposed to be.  They never felt real to me. 

Oh, and did I mention this entire story takes place in like 48 hours?  Yeah.

It's a lot of little things, like mini-bombs going off on the page.  Like the fact that Faith and Will's son Josh are supposedly "close."  But they spend zero time together on page until the end - so really, how "close" can they possibly be?  Also that Faith admits that while she knew the dead girl, and they talked, they never delved deeply into personal matters.  Then Faith sells Will on the fact that he needs her help looking for the killer because she knew things about the dead girl.  Really, like what?  You just said a few chapters ago that you didn't bear your souls to each other!

Then there's the writing.  It's lumpy.  There are moments when the author crams in current-at-the-time references that just felt jarring (the Torino Olympics, Janet Jackson's boob-snafu during the Super Bowl etc.) and asides that were just odd.  For instance, this is good:
Salvatore Sasone hated three things: Democrats, spaghetti sauce from a jar and cold weather.
 And this, is awful:
Given that his great-grandfather had immigrated to America from Sicily, obviously an appreciation of spaghetti (which had, by the way, been invented in his ancestral city of Catania) had been woven into his DNA with his black hair and dark eyes.

Oh for the love of Jeebus.  How was I expected to not laugh while reading that?

And there's things like that throughout the whole book, right down to an ending that puts the Capital R in Rushed.  Stuff starts flying out of left field in, what I'm guessing, was supposed to feel like a big, dramatic, and climactic ending.  Instead it was ::eyeroll:: seriously?

So why didn't I DNF this?  That's the million dollar question.  It was readable for me, despite it's numerous faults, it has short chapters, and having the print book meant it was super easy for me to skim (especially towards the end when any goodwill I had started to vanish).  Plus, I've pulled worse out of the depths of the TBR.  This isn't the worst thing I've ever read (not by a long shot), but there's also nothing here for me to recommend.  Although....I did keep reading it.  So I guess that's something.

Final Grade = D+


cleo reader said...

Wow, just reading this exhausted me. Good for you for finishing it.

Wendy said...

Cleo: It was exhausting - especially when you factor in that the author included a number of second characters. With all that backstory, plus the secondary characters, it made the book feel very over-stuffed. But - short chapters! I seriously think that's a big reason why I was able to finish it.

Jennifer said...

Goodness gracious! I'm with Cleo that I am tired just reading your review of this. The super convuluted backstory would have made me put it down so I give you tons of props for finishing it. And, if that didn't do it, the insta-love would have sealed the deal. I'm sorry this didn't work out for you and I hope next month's read is better.

Wendy said...

Jennifer: If I hadn't of procrastinated this month I probably would have DNF'ed it - but as it was the short chapters made for easy skimming. Oh well, better luck next month - and hey! One more book off the pile - so that's a good thing.

willaful said...

Now I'm dying to eat at the Trope Smorgasbord. I need some breakfast!