Sunday, February 20, 2011

Whitewater Rendezvous by Kim Baldwin

Book:  Whitewater Rendezvous
Author:  Kim Baldwin
Publisher:  Bold Strokes Books

It's been a few days since I've posted a fresh review - I've been reading, but not sure what sort of book I wanted to put up next to bat. I've read some nice romances [thump, thump goes my squishy little heart] and some adventure tales [full of studly butches and femmes who actually kick off their shoes when they need to run from the bad guys], but nothing that really smacked me up side the head. So, I went back through my collection and pulled out my trusty Kim Baldwin Romances . . . what I love about Kim is that she always has a delectable, adventuresome, androgynously handsome butch with slick skills [thump, thump], and another chick that causes her to change her solitary ways.

And who doesn't like a little lovin' in the wilderness with a Grizzly Bear gnawing on your tube of toothpaste and swarms of mosquitos buzzing outside the tent?

Whitewater Rendezvous is the tale of Chaz Herrick, a veritable triple threat: She's a popular Biology professor, an experienced wilderness guide, and has lovely breasts. While leading a whitewater expedition for the Broads in Broadcasting, a cornucopia of network straight, bi- and lesbian executives, reporters, camerawomen, and writers from the Windy City, she comes face-to face [and a few other places] with a woman that rattles her sense of propriety and causes her to burn her hash browns. 

Megan Maxwell is a VP at World News Central, and is five-years into a denial-induced stressathon - her ex, the lovely Rita had an affair, took up with another woman, and left her with nothing but her own lovely breasts. Angst and frustration ensue when Megan finds out that Chaz looks oh so similar to Rita. Megan tries her darndest to freeze out Chaz, but her best efforts are for naught as she finds herself falling quickly for her guide. And Chaz, our concertina-playing adventurer is driven to such distraction, she totally misses the musk ox.

Have no fear, the musk ox was late for a date with a big ol' pile of native grasses, reeds, and sedges.

Kim Baldwin has admirable skills when it comes to capturing the great outdoors - she knows her rapids, respects the flora and fauna, and is able to plop down a little political shout out to maintaining conservation causes without sounding preachy and 'know it all'. Her main characters are people you want to know, and her secondary characters actually contribute to the story. All too often, writers bring in friends and colleagues only as a vehicle to get a certain point covered in the book, then the friends and colleagues disappear for the rest of the story. Ms. Baldwin gracefully sidesteps that gravity pit, and is heartily cheered, here in this study!

In my review of The Target by Gerri Hill, I dinged her a bit for having too many secondary characters in the group of women hiking through the mountains - occasionally one of them would say something, and I'd get lost as to which one she was supposed to be. In Whitewater Rendezvous, Kim Baldwin introduces her own gaggle of women, but each is fully described, different enough from her compatriots, and presents distinct personality facets and dialogue traits. 

Of course, Gerri Hill had ten women [most of them straight and dowdy] and Kim Baldwin only had six, so there was a bit of natural momentum on her side.

Here's a point I want to linger on for a bit:  Megan, our uber-VP has a photographic memory. 

I always wanted to have that, but instead got a jaunty cowlick and bad eyesight. 

The only problem I have with her memory is that she's a workaholic, but still found time to read every publication ever written about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge so that she could talk intelligently and in great detail with our biology professing whitewater wonder, Chaz. In my considerable estimate, that would be a wee bit of our famed 'literary license'. 

Not enough of a bother that it even remotely ruined the book for me, but just sayin'.

There was also a bit of a leap between Megan giving Chaz the cold shoulder, and Chaz being annoyed by this latest out-of-touch 'muffy', and them both suddenly catching elicit looks at each other's breasts, and developing their own secret crushes. Still, as a reader, I wanted it to work, took the leap, and didn't mind that much in the end.

So here's where we stand with Whitewater Rendezvous . . . 

The book had action: A grizzly bear deciding to share a tent with Megan.

The book had adventure: A hoard of fun broads amiably paddling down a wild river in the deepest heart of Alaska.

The book had suspense: Will Megan survive when her kayak flips?

The book had drama: Will Chaz fall prey to Elise's naked ambush in the hot springs?

The book had food: Pasta primavera, blueberry muffins, lasagna, Caesar salad, brownies, grilled fish.

The book had improbable sex:  Including a night of wild, lusty passion in a bear-ripped tent, in a snow storm, awaiting a rescue helicopter on the banks of a raging river, with a sprained shoulder and a nasty gash on the forehead.

In other words, this book has a little somethin' somethin' for everyone!!

Seriously, I love Kim Baldwin's books. They're fun, interesting, and have a nice balance of action, adventure, and romance. Her women, while messed up like the rest of us, are smart, sexy, and not afraid to wear flannel with lacy panties.

Oorah!! Keep 'em coming, Kim!

On the Rainbow Scale, I'll give it a fun and fabulous 5.4 out of 6.

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