The Book Gourmet

Book reviews à la bookworm...The good, the bad, and everything in between.



Professional Reader Reviews Published

Stone Cold by Andrea Kane

Stone Cold - Andrea Kane

Lindsey Hall has known who her father is for a long time, while her father's two children have only recently found out about her...At the reading of his will. A will that stipulates she's to receive a hefty sum, and an old mansion. Determined to refuse the house, and maybe even the money, Lindsay visit the old, abandoned, vacation home, and falls instantly in love, already thinking of way to restore it, and make it a home for her mother. To make the decision to keep the house even stronger, is Nicholas Warner, a real-estate developer wanting to buy the house only to demolish it, and build condos on the land...No way in hell, Lindsay will allow that.

But while Nicholas seems to accept her decision, there's someone else who's determined to make Lindsay change her mind about accepting her inheritance. By all means necessary, it seems. But who is this shady figure? Is it one of her step-siblings, determined to protect the family name, both of them? Or is it Nicholas himself, the very man who's seduced his way into Lindsay's heart?

Ooh, this was one heck of a story. Pity, it was so short, since the romance didn't really have time to evolve properly. As it was, it felt a bit rushed, and very whirlwind without much character development involved. It felt more like it came out of the left field, while, by the time it was finished, the two would've worked better as very close friends on their way to being something more.

But maybe that's just me.

Let's face it, the romance didn't have much time and space to take off, because most of that time and space was occupied by the mystery (yes, this was mostly mystery with a very suspenseful final part). And the mystery, let me tell you, was masterfully done. Although I suspected who the baddie was from quite early on, I don't know what gave that particular character away, there were still enough misinformation, red herrings, and sinister clues to make me suspect everybody. I even had my doubts about the hero (his seemingly about-face also came as a surprise without much intro, info, or buildup—it felt hasty and awkward), which is saying a lot.

I liked the characters, as much as I got to know them, I liked the pacing (spot-on and perfectly balanced between the calm and the storm), and I loved the mystery. The romance could've used some working on, or a few extra pages, though.

Run For Your Life by Andrea Kane

Run for Your Life - Andrea Kane

Victoria Kensington is jogging in Central Park one morning, when her sister, the sister who's supposed to be in Italy, collapses at her feet, wearing a yellow hospital gown, stammering a phone number, and warning her of danger. When Victoria returns to the site after summoning help (no one carried cell phones everywhere in the nineties), there is no trace of her sister anywhere.

Stubbornly determined to find Audrey, despite the obstacles in her path, one of them being her father, adamantly claiming her sisters is still in Italy, Victoria starts digging...But little does she know her investigation will put her life, and that of her sister, in peril, and put her back in the orbit of the only man she's ever loved.

I read a few of Ms Kane's historicals, and I was curious as to see how she manages in the romantic suspense department. She does a pretty good job. So good, in fact, I decided to re-read some of her RS I read a few years back, and dig into the others I haven't.

This book wasn't one of those in-your-face romantic suspenses you can find everywhere these days. It was very understated, both in the romance and suspense elements. Subtle, yet precise and very, very effective.

At first glance, it could appear wordy, every conversation seemed prolonged, the descriptions lentghy, and yes, wordy. I guess this is Ms Kane's narrative style, and while, in the hands of another author, the wordy-ness would kill the plot and the pacing, with this particular author, her style, and her voice, it worked perfectly, enhancing the subtleness of it all.

Unfortunately, I cannot think of another word by subtle to describe this book. Everything was so utterly elegant, everything seemed to move in a slow motion, the pacing being much slower than one would expect from a suspense book. But despite the leisurely pace, nothing seemed dull or boring. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The characters were nicely fleshed-out, the plot well-developed, the pacing spot-on throughout the entire book (slowly picking up pace the closer we got to the big finale). The romance was believable and hot with the two leads actually communicating; talking things through, never dwelling on a problem long enough for it to create unnecessary conflict or miscommunication, and they were actually equals. And the suspense was nicely layered, deceptively light at the beginning, but maintaining constant tension, with the intensity building and building the more layers of truth were revealed.

The main villain was a huge surprise (I guess I forgot a lot about this story since I first read it), and the resolution to the story, both investigation- and romance-wise very satisfactory.

Understated, subtle, elegant, well-written, well-paced...Loved it.

Absolution by Kaylea Cross

Absolution - Kaylea Cross

After years of hunting him, Luke Hutchinson is this close to catching the terrorist he helped create. But with the man targeting women in Luke’s close circle, Luke isn’t about to take any chances…Especially not with the woman he’s loved since forever. He’d protect his ex-wife by any means necessary, yet Emily is fighting her own battle against a deadly enemy no one can protect her from.

This series has been quite a disappointment from the start, so it’s no surprise the final instalment was disappointing as well.

There were once again big problems with the pacing and narrative flow, the suspense was mostly non-existent, I disliked the initial “trigger” for the suspense where the hero took the heroine close to the terrorist in order to protect her (are you serious?!), and the final reveal as to the reason for all the hatred and resentment, anti-climatic and rather idiotic, if you ask me.
The romance was a bit better than the rest, because we didn’t have to go through the let’s-get-to-know-each-other phase, since the main characters were exes and still deeply in love with each other. Still, it was nothing to write home about, except the fact it involved an older couple, and dealt with the extra hurdle of Emily’s disease.

But, it’s finally over (it certainly didn’t warrant an entire series, IMO), the bastard is dead, everybody is nicely coupled up, and I can move on.

Relentless by Kaylea Cross

Relentless - Kaylea Cross

I simply couldn't finish.

For a book with such a title and blurb, the pace sure was plodding. For those 32% that I bothered to read, nothing happened. The heroine mooned over the hero, the hero mooned over the heroine when he wasn't mooning about his loss of coordination because of his injuries, they met in Vancouver, went for a stroll, he never bothered to tell her she might be in danger because the terrorist that started it all was still alive and said terrorist put a bounty on her head...
I understand protective, but to outright not tell her the truth was too much.

And since nothing really happened, no incident, no attempt at her life, not even a hangnail, and everything moved at the pace of a drunk snail, I simply stopped caring.

I'll still read the next, and final (Hallelujah!), book in this series, though. Mostly because I want to make sure the terrorist bastard is really dead. Better safe than sorry.

No Turning Back by Kaylea Cross

No Turning Back - Kaylea Cross

After receiving surveillance photos of herself, Samarra Wallace grabs her tech, and disappears into the streets of Baghdad, no knowing who to trust. But when she receives a photo of her cousin, bound and surrounded by terrorists, Sam knows she needs to contact someone, unfortunately it's the man she turns to who doesn't know whether to trust her or not.

This is officially getting ridiculous. This series now exists only for the series sake. The main suspense arc could (and should) have ended in the previous book, but guess what, we still have two hot guys, and the big honcho, Luke, to cover, so let's stretch the terrorist plot as far as it can go.

There were holes in the plot you could drive a truck through (its predecessor was no better, mind you), the chemistry between the leads was non-existent, the heroine was rather incompetent for a CIA analyst, and the hero more or less an asshole. The final straw was how easily Sam forgave Ben for what he said in the hospital.

I don't mind suspension of disbelief, but this one was asking too much of me.

Cover of Darkness by Kaylea Cross

Cover of Darkness by Kaylea Cross (2014-09-11) - Kaylea Cross

During her yearly visit to her Lebanese father, Bryn McAllister is injured in a bomb attack at the US embassy and, along with her father, kidnapped and left for dead in a cellar in a Syrian village.

Luke Hutchinson knows who kidnapped his son's best friend, Bryn, and is determined to end the bastard's reign of terror once and for all. But first, he needs Bryn and her father rescued, and then he'll need the girl's help, providing security in the form of the very man who saved her.

This wasn't as creepy as its predecessor as far as the suspense went, and the heroine was as far from annoying as she could get...But still, it didn't really work for me.

Once more, as the first wave of danger (again, somewhere in the first ten chapters) passed, the pacing got plodding again, and the gist of the story got lost in the (once more very iffy) romance.
I liked both Bryn and Dec, but couldn't help but get merely friendly vibes off them. The whole "romance" was to be just a by-product of the dangerous situation, transference, and hero-worship on Bryn's part. I didn't really feel sexual sparks with them, and what they called love, smelled more of simple affection than anything truly life-altering.

Also, for a series, this didn't really "connect" with the first book except by a few characters. One of them, being the larger-than-life Luke Hutchinson, who is sounding more and more like an asshole, and I truly hope he manages to redeem himself before his book is due.

As far as suspense is concerned, it was once more the saving grace of the entire operation. Gripping and intense, nail-biting and chilling. Although I was rather disappointed it didn't end when the story did, which means we're stuck with the terrorist until Luke's book. I'm rather skeptical of the fact, since I don't know what new plot points it could bring, since we already know the important bits.
Also, as far as the pacing went, this would've worked better as a short story, keeping the suspense arc a lot more condensed without the rather cheesy and implausible romance throwing the wrench into the wheels as soon as things started moving a little faster.

Out Of Her League by Kaylea Cross

Out Of Her League - Kaylea Cross

Christa Bailey is this close to getting into the Olympic softball team, if only she could concentrate on each game, instead of having to listen to her "number one fan" calling encouragements from the stands. It should be easy to ignore the guy, but the fact is he's giving her the creeps. Creeps that get even larger when he approaches her one night after practice, saying an innocuous that sounds strangely like a threat.

But Christa has good friends, and one of those just happens to be a cop. A cop that confirms her suspicions about her "fan"'s stalkerish behavior and appoints himself her temporary bodyguard...Now, beside the stalker and the national team, Christa has another problem...Keeping her attraction to her cop friend hidden.

This could've been an awesome little romantic-suspense-cum-thriller if it hadn't lost its way in the second half.

The first half of it was absolutely fantastic with the stalker and his escalating behavior culminating in the close call at Christa's house. Unfortunately, after that "first climax", it all went downhill awfully fast for something with as sluggish a pace as the second half.

After the intensity, the danger, the nail-biting terror that the first half was infused with, the second half lost all the suspense, replacing it with a lukewarm at best, and annoying-as-hell at worst, romance. A romance I didn't buy, not even when it was all over. I simply didn't feel the connection—to me Rayne and Christa worked so much better as friends, even friends somewhat attracted to each other. Once that line was crossed...Poof, the zing was gone.

And I must confess, the heroine had much to do with that. To call her a basket-case would be too lenient. I know emotional issues are a real thing, and I know people struggle with such problems on a daily basis, but in Christa's case, I had absolutely no idea why she was the emotional cripple that she ended up being. I swallowed the trauma of her most recent experience, but she was a nutjob before it...
She didn't have a difficult childhood; her mother was simply absent and ignored her, it's not like she was abused or anything. So how could that have evolved in the abandonment issue this chick had? And who breaks down so hard they have to see a shrink because their boyfriend of two years cheated on them? He didn't hit her, he didn't drink, he just cheated. Kick him in the balls and move on, not go see a shrink and have a meltdown. I didn't get her pity party, and she got more and more on my nerves as the story (and her romance with Rayne, God bless his patient soul, progressed).
Also, can you spell TSTL? She's attacked when she thinks her dog smells a racoon and goes, alone (!), to investigate, even after she knows her stalker is dangerous. And then, even knowing the guy is still out there, she still ventures to her best friend's sobbing side alone. This chick literally invited trouble, and her crazy stalker to find her. You'd think she'd learn her lesson, but she didn't.

The saving grace of this book were the hero and the suspense. Rayne was the ultimate book boyfriend. Tall, dark, handsome, brought to his knees by "the One". Protective, caring, oh-so patient. A real steady rock of a guy. I really wished he got saddled with a better heroine, at least a more stable one.
The suspense in the first half was top-notch, the intensity ratcheting up with each chapter, but unfortunately, in the second half the story slowed down a lot, concentrating on the issue-filled heroine and the lukewarm romance, that I thought the reckoning would never come. Pity, it was all resolved rather quickly, the final showdown unsatisfying-ly brief. I felt the suspense element deserved a more fitting solution, instead of the quickie afterthought it actually got.

It wasn't bad, but it could've definitely been much, much better.

Jungle Inferno by Desiree Holt

Jungle Inferno (The Phoenix Agency Book 1) - Desiree Holt

Mark and Faith have been friends since childhood, using their own special way of communicating—telepathy. But they refused to cross the boundaries of their friendship and Mark went off to protect the country...Then one day Faith receives his distress message...

DNF @ 20%

I simply couldn't go on. The premise with the wounded soldier held in captivity in the middle of the Peruvian jungle, only able to communicate with one person in the outside world, was interesting. Unfortunately, the execution was severely lacking.

Instead of following a linear narrative, the story kept jumping, alternating between the present (Mark being captive, sending SOS messages to Faith), flashbacks (their childhood and how they slowly fell in love), and fantasies. While the flashbacks worked in establishing the connection between the two main characters, the flashbacks were nothing but sex, sex, and more sex, contributing nothing to the story, but titillation...And yes, serving to slow the already slow pacing even more.

I didn't really connect with either of the protagonists, maybe because in the 20% of the book I read, there were three sex scenes without much character introduction or, God forbid, development. What also bothered me was the fact the heroine, a writer, was determined to find a SpecOps soldier all on her own (yeah, right), and the fact said SpecOps soldier was capable of transmitting all kinds of messages, but his own location.
I didn't really find the suspense that suspenseful, once more because the fantasies trampled all the intensity the suspense could've generated.
And finally, I didn't really like the voice and narrative style. It sounded rather juvenile and slightly amateurish, especially when it came to the heroine-centric scenes.

Dead by Midnight by Pamela Clare

Dead By Midnight: An I-Team Christmas (I-Team After Hours) - Pamela Clare

Kara and Reece Sheridan, Sophie and Marc Hunter, and Kat and Gabe Rossiter find themselves attending different Christmas parties at the same hotel, alongside the employees of Denver Independent. But what starts as a pleasant night out among friends, soon turns into a nightmare when members of a Colombian drug cartel seize the hotel and take more than 300 people hostage.

Now, it’s up to those inside and those frantically trying to help them from the outside to keep one step ahead of the terrorists and make it out of the hotel alive.

I’m so glad this series went off with a bang instead of a splutter. This is what I expect from a I-Team story. A good dose of romance (multiple in this case), a heaping pile of action and suspense, with just the right amount of drama, danger, and angst.

It was lovely seeing the gang (more or less) together again. The relationships and friendships that have developed between the characters were always tangible and realistic, but the extremely dangerous situation in this story brought them even more to the fore. These people are not only friends, they’re family, and they’re willing to do anything in their power to keep their family from getting hurt.
It was especially heartwarming seeing the bond between Julian and Marc, knowing how it had grown throughout the books, until they finally acknowledged it in words not only in action and exchange of good-natured insults.

The action was gripping, intense, and edge-of-your-seat, the danger more than real, a few situations rather dire, making me think it was all over...But it ended as it was supposed to. With a happily ever after not only for each individual couple, but for their large family as well.

Loved it.

Seduction Game by Pamela Clare

Seduction Game - Pamela Clare

Holly Elise Bradshaw, a.k.a. Horny Holly, the entertainment journalist for the Denver Independent, isn’t what she seems. Her flamboyant, fashionista, sexy and carefree persona isn’t just who she really is, it’s also a cover...A cover that’s about to be blown wide open thanks to her hot and sexy neighbor who just happens to be a rogue CIA officer intent on kidnapping and interrogating her.

As soon as Nick Andris realizes just who Holly works for, he knows he’s been set up. Someone at the Agency is snipping off loose ends, and it looks like Nick is going to be the patsy. Unless, he gets Holly to forgive him, and help him clear his name while also keeping her alive.

I’ve come to expect great stories in this series. Wonderful characters, amazing romance, intense suspense...Unfortunately, this story seemed to be written by a completely different author.

It felt all over the place, erratic, and hurried. I felt like pieces of it were missing, scenes, maybe even entire chapters important for the overall story progress, and character and romance development as well.

We were at point A, then suddenly at point B with absolutely no recollection of how we got there. There was no or barely some semblance of “path” between the two points, two plot elements.
A good example is the first love scene between Holly and Nick. There was no (evident) progress in their acquaintance, no tension, nothing...They just took their clothes off and went for it.
I could say the same for their entire so-called romance. It just was. One moment they didn’t know each other, the next they were lovers, five minute later they were in love. But there was no reason why. Why was Nick in love with her? Was it because she was smart? Was it because she was beautiful? Was it because she used her wits to trick him in thinking her helpless? Was it because she withstood torture? Was it because she was good in bed?
And why was Holly in love with Nick? Especially after all he’s done to her. Yes, he was good-looking, good in bed, he protected her...
Their love materialized with a snap of the fingers without much motivation or reason behind it. And I didn’t believe one second of it. They had sex. Good sex. Hot sex. I just didn’t buy them being in love. And still don’t.

There was not much character development in the story either. Which explains the lack of romance, I suppose. The two of them just were. From beginning to end, there wasn’t much change in their characters, except for when Holly dropped her bimbo act. The only visible change was their love for each other—end character development.

I really couldn’t care less about these two, and I felt the whole secret identity Holly had going on was a bit too “easy”, perfectly crafted for the story itself and for the pairing with her hero, but that was it. I didn’t buy it and I didn’t believe it. It was just too perfect.

The saving grace for this book was the suspense. Well, the mystery of it. I was looking forward to the two uncovering who the real bad guy was, and his motive. That final scene in the warehouse (or wherever they were) was also good. Pity the gang arrived too late for them also to kick some butt.
Still, it was nice seeing the I-Team family together, working toward their common goal of protecting Holly, although I felt that the guy went a little overboard with their protective-big-brother act.

I didn’t really enjoy this one, although it had its brief moments.

Soul Deep by Pamela Clare

Soul Deep: An I-Team After Hours Novella (Volume 2) - Pamela Clare

When Janet Killeen slides off the icy road, and spends the night freezing in her car, the last person she wants to rescue her is Jack West, the asshole rancher who’d thrown her off his ranch the year before when she was protecting Laura Nilsson.

But it is Jack who rescues her, offering his home for the week, hoping to make up for his brusque manner the last time he met the beautiful FBI agent and soon Janet stirs more than Jack’s protective and nurturing instincts...

What a perfect little story this was. It made me smile, it made me laugh, it made me happy.

I loved the MCs were an older couple, because let’s face it, older people are in love, too, feel attraction, and have sex. And Jack and Janet were such a lovely couple to read about. Both adult, mature, in tune with their feelings, nature and disposition. They actually communicated, and they were equals.

Their romance might’ve been rather quick, their feelings instantaneous, but as Jack said, at that age, there’s no point beating around the bush. It was quick, but their maturity and age helped with the realism of it, if I might use that word.
They knew their own minds and their characters, they knew what they were looking for, they knew what they needed, and when they actually found it, they embraced it. Individually, they were strong characters that slowly turned into a power couple. And their courtship was romantic, sweet, sexy, and, yeah, very hot.

The suspense was interesting, maybe not really serving to propel the story and/or the romance forward, but provided a nice little mystery.
The last part of the story was a bit sappy, true, but it brought a stupid grin on my face, so I’m happy.

The entire story brought a stupid grin to my face. I’ve loved Jack West since he appeared in his son’s book and I’m glad he found his second happily ever after, and they were absolutely adorable together...And that last surprise. Yeah, I’m grinning again.

Striking Distance by Pamela Clare

Striking Distance - Pamela Clare

Javier “Cobra” Corbray and the world watched Laura Nilsson being kidnapped on live TV. Two days later, the terrorist who kidnapped her told the world she was dead, and Javier swore vengeance.

Eighteen months later, he finally gets his chance. Leading a SEAL Team on a raid to a terrorist compound, he can’t wait to get his hands on the bastard who killed Laura. Then, a tall figure breaks away from the gaggle of “wives” in burkas, claiming to be an American...Underneath the burka is Laura Nilsson. Alive.

Two years later, Laura is finally feeling like herself again, but after the terrorist who tortured her for almost two years, calls a fatwa on her head at his trial, the old fear is back. Fleeing back to Denver, amid the FBI’s doubts her life is truly in danger, Laura comes face to face with yet another ghost from her past, Javier Corbray.

I don’t know how to explain it, but I feel slightly disappointed by this story. It wasn’t bad, far from it, but unlike what the blurb or the prequel or the prologue “promised”, the final result didn’t really reach the mark.
It was emotional, yet, despite rather similar experiences by both heroines, Megan’s book packed a bigger punch. It was also suspenseful, yet didn’t bring the intensity of the previous books in this series.

After the heart-rate-elevating prologue everything sort of slowed down, the suspense lost its strength and momentum, and the romance ended up being rather lukewarm.
The intimate scenes were still hot, as per usual, but I didn’t exactly feel the connection between Javier and Laura. They had more steam and chemistry in the prequel than in their full-length novel, which is to be expected after what Laura has been through, but even once that hurdle was behind them, they never really sizzled in an emotional kind of way.
I didn’t feel their romance was organic, it seemed the love came out of left field. It felt more like Laura was simply clinging to that last good memory before her ordeal and built up a fantasy, while Javier looked more like he respected her strength and valor instead of really having true feelings for her.
Or maybe it’s just me.

I really expected something more from this story. I wanted an emotional draining journey, not just for the characters, but for me as a reader as well. I wanted a more nail-biting suspense, instead of this rather weak revenge-fueled plot. Because when everything came to light, the villain, the motive, etc. it felt very anti-climatic.

What really got my blood flowing was the prologue, and what got my tears flowing was Laura’s final decision about the secret she’s kept so long.

The rest of it was merely “meh”, something definitely missing.

First Strike by Pamela Clare

First Strike - Pamela Clare

Laura Nilsson and Javier Corbray meet in a Dubai restaurant, and spend the next three nights together. But what’s started as a no-string-no-future affair quickly changes, and each makes a personal resolution to seek out the other next time they’re stateside...But fate has other plans.

This was short, hot, and sexy, but, knowing what will happen in the epilogue and the next book in this series, incredibly bittersweet.

Two people determined to simply share their bodies for a short period of time end up with this strange connection to one another, and wanting more, much more.
The sex scenes were hot, the scenes where they acted like tourists in Dubai sweet, that last kiss on the beach, and their last night together intense with that promise of something more, with a promise of a possible future.

Then the epilogue strikes, and although you know about the next book, the kidnapping scene is scary, and that last scene of grief in the shower, the promise of retribution chilling.

I can’t wait to read about what happens next and about why things happened the way they did.

Also, it was a nice surprise meeting Nate West before he met Megan.

Skin Deep by Pamela Clare

Skin Deep - Pamela Clare

Megan Hunter has been through hell and back. She’s finally safe, clean, able to raise her little daughter by herself. When a ghost from her past strikes, she thinks it’s all over once more, but a guardian angel, with a scarred face and body, and heart of a hero intervenes...And changes her life forever.

This was Marc Hunter’s sister’s story. If you’ve read his book, you know what happened to her, how difficult and dark her life had been, but she got through it, yet not entirely.

This story was as much about absolution and redemption as it was of self-forgiveness. Megan needed to forgive herself to finally be able to really live and embrace any sort of happiness life threw at her.
And there was no hero more perfect than Nate to show her how life and everything in it could and should be. I loved his patience, his strength, and his unfailing faith in Megan, and I loved how she in turn, showed him that the scars he carried were merely badges of honor, part of him, and not who he was.

This was a beautiful short romance with just a dash of suspense to tie up any loose ends.

The book also contains a bonus short detailing a men-only adventure in which Marc, Julian, Zach, Gabe, Nate, and Reece go off on a beer run (and errand run for their wives) and prevent a robbery at a liquor store.

It was short, quick, exciting, and showed the true nature of the friendship that’s developed between these men.
And it was also funny. From bickering about not wanting to be on Team Beta, sensei Julian, to this scene:

West stepped cautiously inside, weapon drawn.

“Sorry, West, but you guys missed all the action.”

“Nope. Not all of it.” He opened the door once more, stepping aside to make room for Rossiter and Sheridan, who were supporting Trance’s weight between them, the kid’s face screwed up in pain, his skin pale, beads of sweat on his forehead.

“What happened to him?” Marc didn’t hit him that hard.

Sheridan grinned. “West told him to stop, and when the kid refused, Gabe tried to trip him, but ended up kicking him in the balls.”

Marc winced. Ouch! “With which foot?”

Rossiter shrugged. “The titanium alloy one.”

Every man in the liquor store groaned.

Breaking Point by Pamela Clare

Breaking Point - Pamela Clare

On a conference in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Natalie Benoit, a Denver Independent investigative reporter, is kidnapped from her tour buss, while her Mexican colleagues are shot. She’s transported, bound in the trunk of a car, to an abandoned village, where members of the drug cartel Los Zetas promise her all kinds of torture at the hands of their leader.

But Natalie is not alone. Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal, Zach McBride, has been the unfortunate guest of Hotel Zetas for five days, enduring starvation and torture because a fellow operative has betrayed him to the cartel, claiming he’s stolen their shipment of cocaine. He hasn’t said anything, his mind hasn’t broken, but he knows his body soon will. And he welcomes that knowledge, until Natalie is imprisoned in the cell next to him.

Determined to save her from rape and certain death, and determined to keep his promise to him to get her across the border, Zach, with Natalie’s help, escapes, and the two take on the arduous journey of trekking across the US-Mexican border into Arizona...But it soon becomes apparent, Natalie’s kidnapping wasn’t random, and even back in the US she’s far from safe.


After the romance-heavy Naked Edge, this book brought us back into the broader romantic suspense element, where suspense, tension, danger and action reined supreme, and still the romance, although not as potent as in the predecessor, still packed quite a punch.

The story begins with a scary, blood-filled kidnapping scene, and quickly follows with an adrenaline-filled escape from a drug cartel and a dangerous trek across the desert. If that doesn’t get your heart-rate up, I don’t know what will.
It was gripping, intense, fast-paced, and had my eyes glued to the page, wishing and hoping for them to make it safely across.

Then it was suddenly over, and we were barely halfway into the story. It couldn’t be over, they couldn’t have been that simple. Could it?
And then the truth came out, and it all (but the motive) made sense. It wasn’t over, it was just the beginning, and the danger was still more than real.
And when it all came to an end, that final showdown in the storm and driving rain, the way the bad guys gained access, the torture, the helicopter rescue that might’ve come too late...It was so vivid, so intense, so well-written, I thought I was there, with them, watching and hoping.

I loved it. I loved every single word of this suspenseful novel. Bravo, Ms Clare.

The romance wasn’t half-bad either. Which is an understatement. The romance was as solid as every single one in this series. Dramatic, intense, bittersweet, angst-filled, and utterly hot (even when they were already out of the desert ^_~).
Zach was as much a tortured hero as his predecessors, with an extra heaping of issues brought on by his PTSD and his survivor’s guilt. Determined, capable, and protective even barely standing, he didn’t know what hit him when Natalie came along, and was completely incapable of preventing the inevitable no matter how he tried.
And Natalie, the sweet little Southern Magnolia with a spine of pure steel. I loved the chick to bits. She knew she needed Zach to survive, and she did everything in her power to help him get her through the desert. She suspected the worst of him, yet she trusted him implicitly, because he gave her reason to. She listened to him, did what he told her without objection...It took guts to trust her life into the hands of a stranger, but she did it, and neither she nor I were disappointed.
Their slow descent into romance was beautiful to read, although slightly painful thanks to Zach’s issues and resistance. But in the end, they healed each other, stuck with each other, and that’s what counts.

This book is worth reading for the suspense and action alone, but the great romance helps nevertheless. Awesome!

Naked Edge by Pamela Clare

Naked Edge - Pamela Clare

Three months after he’s saved her life, when she was injured in a rockslide, Gabriel Rossiter comes to Katherine James’s rescue once more, when a cop pulls her by her hair out of a sweat lodge as the Native ceremony is interrupted. Gabe finds the police raid on Mesa Butte more than strange and decides to help Kat, an investigative journalist, look into the matter...Although her motives are not as altruistic as they seem. Plain and simple, he wants her, and more she resists, more he wants her.

When Kat’s life is in danger, Gabe is once more there to protect her, and appoints himself her personal bodyguard, despite knowing deep down he should keep his distance. Because the woman is dangerous to his heart, his body, and his own convictions.

Even hours after finishing this book, I still find it hard to actually put to words my thoughts, and my feelings about it. The rating could be enough, I suppose, and no review could actually convey what a great story this was. But I shall give it a try.

While the rest of the full-length novels in this series were truly romantic suspense books, I’d categorize this one as more of a romance with a “side dish” of suspense. But I will simply call it a love story. Yes, there was suspense, there was a murder, and there was danger, but to me this was simply Kat and Gabe’s love story.

Unlike the previous books, the romance was at the forefront of everything her, dominating the story, hoarding “screen time”, and keeping me reading and turning pages. And what a beautiful romance this was.
It progressed from that first victim-savior moment to acquaintance, from respect to budding friendship, all spiced up by the unmistakable chemistry and attraction, and budding up into a strong, unshakable bond of love, a love story that culminated in that heart-rendering scene at the end of chapter 30.

Kat and Gabe were perfect for each other. Both strong, both independent, both with issues from their past, issues that came out throughout their story, as they slowly healed and saved one another, though Gabe needed a lot more TLC that Kat. The woman knew just what she wanted, and knew her heart, and her feelings perfectly well, and yes, her issues weren’t as deep or as “traumatic” as Gabe’s was.
The man was a mess, although the issue that made him such an asshole was rather horrible, it was also very predictable, and quite easily solved, if he weren’t a man, obviously. It was easier bottling it all up, than working and talking it through, and he ended up where he ended up. And then Kat came along, and he had no idea what was happening to him.
His inner monologues were a hoot to read, and his slow recovery, and acceptance truly beautiful. Pity, it took him so long to speak up his mind, with a serious threat once more needed to resolve everything.

Granted, that last “miracle” was a bit too much, especially after the ordeal of reading the pivotal scene in chapter 30 and those few paragraphs of chapter 31. It was a too simple solution, a Deus ex Machina ploy, and overly “fictitious”, but, damn it, it worked, and I loved it.

Compared to the love story, the suspense had no other options than take the back seat, and although the motive remained a mystery until almost the very end, the true villain of it was rather predictable, or maybe my intuition kicked in, I don’t know. The fact is, the big reveal wasn’t as much a surprise as it could’ve been.
Still, the suspense element was solid and well-paced.

What struck me most about this book, besides the love story that is, was the feel of it. I don’t think the voice or narrative style was different, since the author is the same, but the feeling of reading it was different.
It started in the prologue, as Kat’s drove to the park and hiked, and continued throughout the story, and the epilogue...Although the story was rather fast-paced, the suspense intriguing, and the romance wonderful, and yes, I wanted to learn what happens next, I felt the urgency to do so, there was no I-have-to-turn-the-page-as-soon-as-possible feeling. It was all strangely peaceful and relaxed. I don’t really know how to explain. Weird, right?

Anyway you look at it, this was an amazing story. Loads of information about Native Americans, and their culture, religion and mythology, wonderful characters, absolutely amazing love story, good suspense, and tons of pathos, especially with that big tearjerker scene...