The blurb on the back cover of Lori Foster’s Impetuous did not do it justice. Advertised as the story of a shy woman with an inner femme fatale who has lady-killer Tyler Ramsay breaking a sweat, it reflects none of the complexity of this compact yet well-fleshed story.
Carlie McDaniels, a shy but stern schoolteacher very set in her ways, allows her best friend Brenda to dress her as a harem girl for a Halloween party. Initially, I found this segue off-putting. If Carlie was so shy and determined to dress as she pleases even if her normal clothing is ugly, why on earth would she have allowed Brenda to dress her in an outfit she found so uncomfortably revealing? Nevertheless my hesitations were swept away as the fascinating chemistry between Carlie and Tyler took center stage.
Spotting Tyler across the room, Carlie makes a dash for the pool house, determined to get away from the party. Though she’s admire Tyler from afar for some time, she’s always assumed he’s out of her league and would never be attracted to a frumpy schoolteacher. Tyler follows her out, and drawn by mutual chemistry, they spend a few torrid, passionate hours together. Carlie keeps her wig, colored contacts, and mask on throughout the interlude in an effort to enjoy the moment and doesn’t reveal her name. When Tyler awakens his grin quickly fades; he’s just had the best sex of his life with a woman who remains a mystery. Uncomfortable with the idea that he might pass somebody in the street who knows him so intimately, without even recognizing her, he pesters Brenda for details, but under strict instructions from Carlie will not do so.
In the meantime Tyler begins to help the poorer kids at Carlie’s school with a basketball program, and as he gets to know her he is more and more amused by her spiky personality. She doesn’t hesitate to tell it like it is, and despite her best efforts, they become close. Tyler is drawn to her honest, forthright personality, unused to a woman that doesn’t want him only for his status or wealth. Having suffered the mother from hell, he is not prepared when he falls in love with a woman who has no concern for material things, and who makes no effort to dress up or otherwise change herself to please him. Yet he can’t stop thinking about his night of glorious passion with the harem girl and remains cluelesss that the bespectacled Carlie, who hides underneath great swathes of clothing and dresses the dowd could be one and the same.
Carlie worries that Tyler will discover their secret and that it will ruin their close friendship. Much as she is drawn to Tyler she is determined to resist a fling with him, knowing and openly admitting that her heart would not survive such an encounter. As such, she backs off from him as much as possible, unaware that her playing hard to get makes him all the more determined to get the girl. Carlie is torn apart. Her cheating and abusive ex-husband proclaimed her frigid when she didn’t respond to his two-second, “wham, bam, thank you, ma’am” style of lovemaking, yet, to her amazement, her responsiveness to Tyler amazes her and causes her to realize what she’s been missing in her life.
If ever you find yourself stuck in a romance novel yelling at the heroine to say something clever to knock the snotty hero on his ass, look no further – Carlie comes out with all the right lines to keep the plot amusing and realistic. There are no other subplots in the book to distract from the hero and heroine’s central conflict, no baddies from the past, no far-fetched kidnapping plots, no evil mother in laws,- just great chemistry between an adorable heroine and an even more charming hero.
The love scenes sizzle, and Tyler’s dogged pursuit of Carlie, initiating a sexual relationship with her despite her appearance – because he’s simply bowled over by her personality – provides believable heat. For the first time ever, Tyler feels comfortable enough to be himself around a woman, enjoying doing simple things with her and not concerned that she has an ulterior motive for their relationship.
If perhaps at times you find yourself wondering whether Carlie will ever get a new wardrobe or wear contacts, and how long a relationship between two people with so much baggage can endure, it is not enough to knock the book from solid B status. A compact 253 pages, Impetuous is a little story that packs a big punch.