Breaking Point is the latest book in the I-Team series. Natalie, the protagonist, is in Ciudad Juarez for a Society of Professional Journalist convention. While on a bus tour a group of very bad men storm the bus, kills every single Mexican journalist in there and kidnaps her. During captivity she hears a voice that comes from the cell next door. The voice belongs to Zach McBride, our hero.And then the fun begins.
I have read tons of romantic suspense and I can honestly say that no one does it better than Pamela Clare. This book proves that. It is difficult to find a romantic suspense novel that has the perfect balance of both genres. Oftentimes you get a book that is heavy on the suspense but the romance seems almost like an afterthought, or you get a romance novel with a ridiculous cliché bad guy and a very predictable plot that has nothing suspenseful about it. But a book that gives you the same amount of focus in both aspects of the story is difficult to find. The other thing is that the romance in her books has a feel to it that goes perfectly well with the plot. Is down and dirty, so even though the heroes are the ultimate alpha male who protects and loves his woman till the bitter end, there is nothing sugary about it. These are people running for their lives, in very stressful situations, and the romance reflects that.
I have loved every single one of the heroines in this series, and Natalie was no exception. She is strong and a fighter, but she is also feminine and vulnerable. If you have read the previous books in the series (and if you haven’t what are you waiting for?) you know that Natalie was a bit of a mystery. We know that something bad happened to her during Hurricane Katrina, something that has left her emotionally scarred, but we don’t know exactly why. In this book we find out and it is bad. But she is not giving up on life, and once she finds herself kidnaped by the biggest gang of psychopaths in romantic suspense history, she fights. And you know what? She saves Zach, she is the one who finds a way out of the prison. That is how cool Pamela’s heroines are.
Zach was incredible. He is probably the most heroic of Clare’s male leads (he was a former SEAL). He was also wounded, and like Natalie he had some very traumatic experiences that left him sad and feeling undeserving of life and love. But he was very strong. He goes through hell and doesn’t break. I loved him. He was a complex character. The best part was that he didn’t mind being rescued by a girl, he respected her, and they were perfect for each other.
You know the phrase “a rollercoaster of emotions”? Well, this book was the definition of that phrase. The book starts with a bang, is followed by a bang and it ends with a bang. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. The first half of the book was so nerve-wracking that at one point I felt like I was reading a post-apocalyptic novel. They were running through the dessert, there was no one to help them, and when you finally think that they are safe and that you might get to take a breath, they are back to running for their lives again. Not to mention all the slightly less anxiety inducing moments where they deal with angsty romance related issues. The only sweet, cutesy scene happens at the very end during the epilogue, this is typical of these novels and I like it very much, after everything that happens to them is nice to see them get their HEA, some people might dislike this because it is a bit different in tone to the rest of the book, but I liked it, and again, it is a romance.
There is a lot of bromance in the book. Julian, Marc and Gabe, the heroes from the previous books, have secondary roles in this one and their scenes are fantastic (including a WTF/how could she! moment close to the end that almost gave me a heart attack). If Pamela were to write a suspense novel, with only them as characters -no girls, only them- I wouldn’t complain.
The bad guys were really bad, there is a lot of violence in the book and Pamela doesn’t shy away from it, so be warned about it. The worst part of it is that these things actually happen. I have seen the news and sadly this is one of those cases were reality is worse than fiction. If this book serves to make people aware of what is going on in Mexico and in Ciudad Juarez in particular, then great, because there are innocent people currently living in hell. Now, there was no typecasting in the book, the bad guys were Mexicans but she doesn’t make you feel like all Mexicans are delinquents, on the contrary, I loved that she mentions how the people in Juarez were trying to survive and to bring some progress to their city, fighting for it. I was so glad for that scene, because I’m sick of reading suspense books where every Mexican or Colombian is a drug dealer or a murderer, like there is nothing good in those countries.
I only have two complains. The first one is that Zach has a very miraculous recovery after the ordeal he goes through. One moment he can’t even stand on his own, and the next thing I know, he is running, shooting, breaking bad guy’s necks, throwing knifes. That was unbelievable, he had some broken ribs, he was brutalized and tortured, he had blisters, he was famished and possible dehydrated. The second one was that they have sex in the middle of very stressful circumstances and I don’t think that any normal people would be thinking about sex in those moments. But it is fiction, and the book is so good that it didn’t bother me much.
My favorite book in the series is Unlawful Contact, but the rest of the books -this one included- are tied in second place. If you are a fan of romantic suspense, if you like action packed thrillers, or adventures, or very hot romances -and I mean scorching hot- then get this one, and get the rest of the series as well. The book stands alone fine, but you will probably enjoy it more if you know all the characters from previous books, and it is a little spoilery of the previous book. As I said there is equals amount of suspense and romance, there is a lot of sex, so if you only like suspense and if you are not into explicit sex scenes then you might want to read something else. But for the rest of you, this book is a keeper.
Review by Brie
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…
Berkley. May 3, 2011.