I know that I owe reviews to a few other people. Yes, I know. I’ve been remiss about getting those reviews written. But, it’s been a while since I’ve read those books, so I need/want to read them again before I feel comfortable writing about them. It would be really bad if I tried to write them now – months later – and ended up switching characters and plot lines. Yes, very bad indeed.
I really wanted to read something new the other night.
I looked through my ever-growing pile of “to read” novels and my eyes lingered on the spine of a book called “High Impact” – I got a little tingle and decided that’s what I would read.
After reading “High Impact,” it felt it rather appropriate that “a little tingle” was the impetus for choosing this novel.
I’ve always loved Baldwin’s writing. I was first introduced to her via Xena Fan Fiction. It was exciting to learn a bit later on that she’d gotten published. I began to devour her novels! In fact, “Force of Nature” is one of those books that I’ve read over and over and over. When I’d told Baldwin how many times I’d read it, I think she mentioned to me that I’d probably read it more times than she had. It’s definitely one of my “comfort” books. I can’t seem to get enough of it. Sometimes I’ll pick it up and just read sections from it. It’s not necessary for me to read it from cover to cover anymore – though I often do. Those snippets of reading will often satisfy my need for some good romance.
When I began reading “High Impact,” I knew within the first chapter that Baldwin would not let me down.
Emery Lawson is an admitted “adrenaline junkie.” A near-death experience causes Emery to re-evaluate her life and determine that she needs to stop saving for the day she’d start living her life…and actually start living it.
Pasha Dunn is a guide with an adventure outfitter in Alaska. An innate “calling” has led her to this remote landscape. She just knows that it’s here, in the Alaskan wilderness, that important, life-changing things will happen for her.
When Emery and Pasha meet, the attraction is undeniable. Pasha knows that Emery is “the one” for her. Emery, believing herself incapable of love, doesn’t understand the depth of the attraction. Soon, however, Emery and Pasha will be tested when they are thrust into a fight to survive.
Here is what I appreciate most about all of Baldwin’s writing: she doesn’t get to the point.
That’s a compliment! Really!
Let me explain.
I think we all know just how easy it would be to just cut to the chase – introduce the main characters, demonstrate that they have the hots for each other, put them in a life-threatening situation, and watch the romance blossom!
Yeah, not so much with Baldwin’s writing.
Instead, Baldwin gives us the time to get to know these characters – and to let the characters get to know each other. A good 2/3 of the book lets us into their lives. As Emery spends more time in Bettles and becomes familiar with the town and its citizens, we’re allowed to experience the wonder she has for her surroundings and the pleasure she finds in making new friends. We get insights into the hopes and fears that Pasha and Emery experience as they get to know each other and learn about their “connection” to each other.
Baldwin introduces us to a bevy of secondary characters who, rather than being superfluous page fillers, bring depth to the story. They don’t have their own stories here – there are no real “sub-plots” – but they definitely contribute to the main plot line. They allow us additional insight into how the relationship between Pasha and Emery develops; they provide needed and interesting exposition that bridges any gaps the readers may have about Alaska, about camping, about living in this remote land. They serve as narrators, without actually narrating. I like that!
As with just about everything I’ve read of Baldwin’s, the setting is always cast as the third main character. Again, she takes the time to allow Alaska to become a major player in the novel. This is not a story that can be told in any setting. The setting is what makes the story work. This would have been a completely different novel had it taken place in the Badlands or the Appalachians.
I think “Force of Nature” will always be my favorite Baldwin novel. But that has everything to do with it being my first Baldwin novel. I always hold a special place for “firsts” in my life. But, I gotta say, “High Impact” is right up there.
Yes, I’ll be reading it again.