Monday, February 08, 2010

Leave Me Breathless by HelenKay Dimon


According to Judge Bennett Walker, trying to kill him is a dumb idea. They might make him wear a big black nightgown to work, but it covers a lot of muscles, and he’s definitely packing beneath it. He’s also an ex-prosecutor and an ex-GI Joe. So when his brother brings in Callie Robbins to protect him, Ben has a few issues. First, he doesn’t need a bodyguard. Second, she’s a 130-pound girl—more smoking hot than smoking gun. And third, what if his body wants her guarding the night shift?

Callie has no problem brushing aside Ben’s disbelief. She left the FBI to escape the boys’ club, but she can be deeper undercover and twice as lethal as any beefy John Doe. As for whether someone’s after Bennett or not, the death threats and car bombs look pretty convincing to Callie. Of course, she might get distracted, sitting inches from the sexiest judge in DC for ten hours a day. Keeping him safe is no picnic. Keeping it professional—that might be impossible.


Have you ever read a book where you could see a whole lot of holes, and certain things didn't make sense, and yet you closed the book saying, "Wow. I really liked that. I want more"? Weird, I know. But that was my reaction to HelenKay Dimon's new release, Leave Me Breathless. Dimon was so sweet to give me a copy of this at our SoCal Blogger get-together last weekend when I mentioned how much I enjoy her books.

What I liked:
Ben. A former military guy (and we actually see his motivation for having joined and having left!), he then went to law school, and is now a judge. And a hot damn judge at that. Holy smokes. He's unapologetic about his courthouse reputation, however deserved or undeserved. He is a loyal friend. He's got that dumbass alpha protective streak going that sometimes makes him do dumbass things. Like not accepting protection when his life is obviously in danger. But he does come around. Kind of *g*. Who doesn't love a dumbass alpha? Especially when he's so adorable and hot.

Callie. She's an interesting character. A former FBI agent, she left under dubious circumstances. She really needs this job protecting Ben, both for her own self-esteem and, frankly, for the money. She's not afraid to go after what she wants, whether it's doing a good job to save her reputation, or going after Ben.

Mark. Wow. Now there's a guy with issues. Ben's brother and a former FBI agent, he now works for Homeland Security. Moody, temperamental, and in some serious denial. Can you say hot? Many times in the book, the comparison is made of how Ben is so much lighter in nature than is Mark. And by that, I mean the broody thing. And the general outlook on life. Ben manages to hide his issues behind a happy persona, while Mark is pretty much the opposite.

Emma. She's obviously the most stable of the 4, but she still has her own issues. Ben's fellow judge and childhood friend, she's been in love with Mark for years, and because of his inability to commit to anything even remotely emotional, she allows him to come around for sex when he feels like it. She's always there waiting. Their emotional confrontation near the end was definitely one of the highlights of the book for me.

Dimon's trademark wise-ass banter between the H/H. Yup, I'm a humor/sarcasm ho. I know this shocks you. Callie has a serious mouth on her, and Ben acknowledges it's one of the things he most likes about her. Makes him realize how much he likes smart women. I liked this revelation, because he also is well aware and appreciative of how hot he thinks Callie is. Callie doesn't put up with any BS, and Ben gives as good as he gets.

The background story for Ben, Mark, and Emma. Pieces are slowly revealed as Ben opens up to Callie. But the kicker is when Ben acknowledges how guilty he feels because his mother went back for a shirt for him. Since it's his shirt, much of the blame must be on him. I did like that Dimon doesn't dwell on this. Ben gets it off his chest with Callie and moves on.

Both women managed to walk away from the men they love when it became clear that their guy wouldn't provide what they needed. Love, nourishment for the relationship, commitment. Here, again, I thought Dimon did the best job portraying Emma's issues. She's a strong woman, but still soft and vulnerable, and not afraid to show her vulnerability. It was interesting that Emma and Callie appeared to be such opposites, but found themselves faced with the same issue when it came to the two brothers. And it brought them closer. (Good considering that one assumes they will be sisters-in-law.)

The description of the courtroom scenes. Loved this. Loved how Dimon portrayed them as incredibly deadly dull. Dimon is a former attorney herself, and so I imagine that she knows whereof she speaks. While normally, authors attempt to put the most exciting courtroom drama scenes into their books, Dimon does just the opposite here. While Ben is such an exciting, vibrant man, it shows how committed he is to his profession. He sits and deals with it, while Callie's eyes want to roll back in her head from the boredom. I thought that was quite interesting for some reason.

What didn't I like?
Callie's inconsistency. At first, she comes off as a kickass heroine (rock on!), who knows what she's doing when it comes to personal protection and keeping the mark covered. I loved this portrayal, and was looking forward to seeing how she'd soften up as the book progressed. But as she and Ben become more involved, she talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk. She answers her door without her sidearm on her. She makes no attempt whatsoever to blend in at the courthouse, which if she was posing as Ben's assistant, she should have. Of course, her own brash personality wouldn't allow her to sit down, shut up, and let those things pass her by. She definitely had a couple TSTL moments, but managed to redeem herself on her own.

OK, pointing out the obvious fact that a HSA agent would not be assigned to his own brother's case, but as I always say in romanceland – Sometimes you have to be willing to suspend your sense of realism. It is fiction, after all. Luckily, I'm easy like that.

What else didn't I like? Well, maybe it's a product of my age, but I never see how a 37(8?) year old man can have that much sex at one time. No matter how virile he is, he should be sending himself some of the ED spam I seem to send my own self daily. This is not only Dimon's fault, but I see this constantly in all books where the hero is in his late 30s, early 40s. They have sex like the energizer bunny. Not to rain on my hubby's parade or anything, but guys that age need some recovery time. However, I can also appreciate that recovery time isn't very romantic... especially in a book as hot and heavy on the sex as Leave Me Breathless is. Even though I see the potential for awesome pillow talk there, not everyone will likely agree with me. The only exception to this author faux pas that jumps right into my head was Mark in Hearts Awakened by Linda Winfree. (Damn, such a good book!).

Oh, and one last thing. In this story, Callie is a blond. Clearly. Heroine on cover? Yeah, not so much with the blond. It's one thing to take creative license with covers, but another to so completely go against who the characters are. Not Dimon's fault, obviously, and it is a pretty cover... plus, I think it accurately sets the mood for the book.

So... although there were some holes, I really enjoyed Leave Me Breathless. This one seemed to be a little darker with the characters' backgrounds (or maybe it's been a while since I read my last Dimon, but dark isn't what I generally think of when I think of Dimon). However, I like the mix of darker and humor. It works for me. Don't get me wrong; you won't walk away from this book thinking, "Wow, that was dark." Dimon is one of those authors that I'll forgive close to anything just because I like her wise-ass dialogue, strong heroines, and hot heroes so much. Call me shallow. What. Ever.

Pre-order Leave Me Breathless. It releases in trade from Brava soon. At the time of this posting, Amazon has it 33% off at $9.45 and on Kindle for $8.96.


  1. I thought HelenKay was so funny at the socal blogger meet up. I'm curious how much of her humor is in her books.

    Great review!!! J.R. Ward could write a coupon book and I'd still buy it, yeah I'm that loyal.

  2. Great review!

    I tried one HKD and it kind of left me with a bit of disappointment. So I'm definitely going to try this one out b/c I gotta read about a hot judge and a kick ass heroine. Even if she isn't that kick ass. :P

  3. Ames, Wendy just reviewed a different HKD book today. You could check that one out, too, and see if it helps.

  4. You know it's funny you mention the "dark." Yeah, I wouldn't really consider HKD a "dark" writer, but in the book I just finished (Holding Out For A Hero) there were definitely some dark edges. Namely the crime the heroine's nephew is accused of and how the author wraps up that particular plot thread. But as a whole? Yeah, I wouldn't say the whole book is dark and broody. Just certain elements.

    This review got me thinking - I don't think I've ever seen a book where one of the characters is a judge. Isn't that odd? Maybe because people think judge = older than dirt? But wouldn't you think I would have run across it in a western by now? Hmmmmmm.

  5. Yes! Judge = old and ugly. I remember thinking the same thing re: senator in one of Kathryn Shay's books. But this judge? Hot.

  6. Thank you for the lovely review! Thanks to you adn Wendy, this is the best review day ever.

    The cover...[sigh]. I go out of my way not to look at it. I've gotten some beautiful covers from Brava (have you seen the guy on the cover of HOT AS HELL - wowza!), and this one is pretty, but does the dude look like a 39 year old judge? Um, no. He's 20-something and wearing a thick chain. I look at him and see a gang banger. And her...[second sigh]. I envisioned a woman who looked like Olivia from Fringe. The chick on the cover is a dark-haired flamenco dancer. Honestly, the cover is just so off. Gives me a headache.

  7. I think those are the best books, Lori. The ones where there are obvious holes, but you end up loving it so much that you can disregard them :D

    Sounds like a great book :) The fact that Ben is a judge who's been in the military... that sounds really good :D I'll be looking for it, I think :D


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