Monday, June 13, 2011

Review: Breaking Point

Breaking Point
Pamela Clare
Romantic Suspense
I-Team/Book 5
Berkley/May 3, 2011

From the author's website ~

While investigating border violence in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Denver journalist Natalie Benoit is caught in a bloody ambush and taken captive. Alone in the hands of ruthless killers, she will need every ounce of courage she possesses to survive.

Betrayed by another operative, Deputy U.S. Marshal Zach McBride has endured a week of torture and interrogation at the hands of a bloodthirsty Mexican drug cartel. Ready to give his life if he must, he remains unbroken—until he hears the cries of an American woman.

Although Natalie is only a voice in the darkness of their shared prison, her plight brings renewed strength to Zach's battered body. With her help, he overpowers their captors, and they flee through the desert toward the border, the attraction between them flaring hotter than the Sonoran sun.

But past loss and tragedy leave both of them reluctant to follow their hearts, even when the passion between them reaches its breaking point. Faced with feelings neither expected, they fight to stay ahead of the danger that hunts them as forces more powerful than they can imagine conspire to destroy them both…

Pamela Clare is an author with a gift of true story telling. She not only gets you into the characters head, she lets you live there. As I started reading Breaking Point I had a feeling it would be different than her other I-Team novels in that it takes place primarily away from the teams office. The subject matter of human trafficking is spotlighted and Clare does a incredible job of showing the different affects it has on people.

While Natalie Benoit has been in previous I-Team books, very little is known of her background. She's considered a southern belle, beautiful but not exactly approachable. Natalie has a shattered past that keeps her from getting too close to anyone. She chooses to be more focused on her work, maintaining relationships with co-workers but still keeping them at a distance. As Natalie finds herself in desperate, life-threatening situations, she shows what she's made of. I would say she is one of my favorite heroines of this series. She's smart, brave but still has that southern belle feel to her. Steel Magnolia. Clare showed Natalie doing things that she never thought she would or could do, but she did them because she is a survivor. I liked how Natalie was sicked by the violence she was forced to carry out but she understood that if she didn't fight back, she would be dead. Her feelings and reactions were genuine to the situation without any TSTL moments to irritate this reader.

Zach McBride is in a world of hurt. He's looking death in the face and it's ugly. Then he hears a voice out of a dream and he has a reason to keep living. Zach and Natalie are forced to trust each other if they're going to get out alive. It's a unique way to begin a romance since, at first, neither can see the other and then when they do, they are looking far from their best. Zach is a scarred hero, both literally and figuratively. He doesn't make any promises to Natalie, just tells it like it is. The pacing is furious and you wouldn't think they would have much time to get to know each other but they do and it felt right when they do get together. And boy do they burn up the desert with their very hot, very emotional scenes. There is definitely romance and passion between Natalie and Zach.

The suspense is intense and the environment brutal. Clare doesn't hold back on the savagery or the desperation of the circumstances Zach and Natalie find themselves in. I think I would have found it disappointing had the tone been less harsh. Kudos to Clare for not backing off when it comes to showing the reality of a life where the cartels hold the power.

Another great thing about Breaking Point are the heroes and heroines from the previous novels lend a hand to help Natalie and Zach. It was wonderful to see them again, pulling together for their friend. I loved the camaraderie between the men, especially Marc and Julian.

After everything Natalie and Zach go through escaping the cartel, they still have some heavy baggage to deal with. They worked hard for their HEA and Clare gave them a lovely ending that not only wrapped up the loose ends but gave them a beautiful beginning.

Rating: A

Books in this series ~

Extreme Exposure
Hard Evidence
Unlawful Contact
Naked Edge
Breaking Point


  1. This book definitively has been getting good reviews :) I'm glad you enjoyed it, Leslie! I don't know, I've always had a bit of difficulties with Ms Clare's romantic suspense, because the heroines are reporters - not my favorite career for heroines... but maybe I'll try to get this one at RWA :)

  2. Nath ~ huh, not crazy about reporters. It's like me with lawyers - usually don't interest me. Exception being Julie James' books.

    You should grab this if you see it at RWA. Most of the story takes place away from the newsroom so that might make it more enjoyable for you. :)