Breaking Point By Pamela Clare (I-Team Novel-Book 5)
May 3, 2011
Helyce is back to guest review!! Find her on Goodreads.
I had been counting the days toward the release of Breaking Point when Mandi offered it to me for review, and my response was a very loud “Hell Yes!” I am a huge fan of Pamela Clare’s I-Team series. Centering around a group of journalists who work for the Denver Independent, Breaking Point is the story of Natalie Benoit and Zach McBride and if you are a fan of romantic suspense, you will not be disappointed.
Originally from New Orleans, Natalie moved to Denver after losing her parents and fiancé after Hurricane Katrina. She’s made a nice home for herself, has a great job and wonderful friends but years later she is still sad, missing her parents and especially her fiancé, Beau. She’s dated a little but watching her friends meet, marry and have children have opened old wounds and she’s feeling like it’ll just never happen for her. On top of that, her job as an investigative reporter is pretty high stress and the combination of her personal and professional life has her needing a break. That break comes in the form of a journalist convention that takes her across the border into Juarez, Mexico. The intent of the convention was to bring Mexican and American journalists together to learn more about the issues of immigration, the drug trade and human trafficking. Unbeknownst to Natalie, she is about to get up close and personal with many of those issues when her bus is ambushed and she is kidnapped at gunpoint.
Zach McBride is a Chief Deputy U.S. Marshall working deep undercover when he’s betrayed by a fellow operative and is kidnapped by the Zetas, Mexican bad guys headed by Arturo Cardenas-the very man Zach was in Mexico trying to bring down for drug and weapons trafficking and the deaths of several young women. Repeatedly tortured over several days, he’s in his cell, just waiting for death, when he hears Natalie’s voice. Calling on the last of his strength, he calls out to her. Natalie tells Zach how she came to be there and Zach, careful to keep his cover, grimly and honestly tells Natalie the depressing and frightening facts of her fate when she asks:
“What do you think Cardenas will do with me?” She sounded so vulnerable. Zach found it hard to answer her, regret at what he had to tell her forming a knot in his chest. “I imagine he’ll…rape you repeatedly over a period of days or maybe even weeks and then…sell you…or kill you.”
Zach, weak from repeated torture, beatings and not enough water and food, digs deep and finds some inner strength so that when the opportunity presents itself, he and Natalie are able to overpower Cardenas’ men and make their escape. At first, Natalie is very suspicious of Zach. She doesn’t understand why they can’t just go straight to the authorities but she knows she can’t do this on her own. Zach tells her that the Zetas leader has eyes and ears all over the place and even the Mexican authorities cannot be trusted. From what little Natalie has said, Zach suspects that there is much more to her kidnapping then the obvious. He comes up with a plan that will take them on a trek through the desert and across the border back into the U.S.
Unfortunately, the trouble in Mexico follows Natalie and Zach across the border back into the US. While Zach is in DC being debriefed, he learns that Arturo Cardenas has sent men into Denver to kill Natalie. He’s on the phone trying to warn her when he hears an explosion. Defying orders, he leaves DC to rush to Natalie’s side. What follows unveils a partnership, decades long, that ends in a hail of bullets where the good guys win, but not completely unhurt.
Of course we cannot overlook the romance part of this story. True to form, Ms. Clare gives us a sexy hot stud in the form of Zach McBride. Just check out the cover, model Jed Hill does Zach major justice! Natalie Benoit is not only beautiful but a very strong woman and their attraction to each other once they are free is immediate. Both Natalie and Zach have pasts that they have to come to terms with before either of them will be free enough to give each other their hearts, but it doesn’t stop them from fooling around and taking comfort in each other after their horrible ordeal. Zach tries to fight his attraction to Natalie at first. He’s got “rules” and he doesn’t like to break them. Natalie hasn’t been with anyone since her fiancé and after what she’s just been through, she’s of the mindset that life is too short and Zach is there, sex on a stick. She knows want she wants and she takes it.
Pamela Clare does an awesome job of taking actual current events and weaving them into a story full of adventure and suspense. You will feel horror, disgust and disbelief that these things actually happen to people in the world today. While keeping you at the edge of your seat, she also brings huge emotions into the story. You feel the pain of the guilt Zach suffers from what has happened in his past. You know it’s holding him back from taking that last step to happiness with Natalie. There is no doubt you will feel many emotions when reading this book. And when you least expect it, humor:
She watched, puzzled. “You’re going to take a shower—with your guns?”
“I’m not actually going to take them into the shower. I just want them close by.” Then he turned, a grin on his face, some of the playfulness returning. “You know, if you’re going to hang with me, you need to learn the correct terminology.”
He held up the AK-47, the muscles of his arm bunching against the weight. “This is an assault rifle.” Then he held up the handgun. “This is a semi-automatic pistol.”
Then he gave a little thrust of his hips and looked down at his penis. “That is my gun. As you’ve discovered, it’s pump-action like a shotgun, but it doesn’t fire bullets.”
One of the things I love about this series is that Ms. Clare does a great job of bringing back previous characters and including them in the current book. If you’ve read the previous I-Team books, then you will be happy to hear that Marc, Julian and Gabe get some page time. These men are protective of Natalie and aren’t too sure about Zach at first, but are quick to jump in and support him when Natalie’s life is in danger. It is clear that each and every one of them would take a bullet for the other and they’ll do whatever is necessary to get the job done.
I loved Breaking Point and it is a fabulous addition to this series. If you are a fan of romantic suspense, you must read Pamela Clare. She will not let you down.