Monday, January 31, 2011

Breaking Point (I-Team #5) by Pamela Clare


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…

Congratulations to Pamela Clare! Breaking Point was named one of's Top Ten Romances of 2011! 

Books like Breaking Point are the reason Pamela Clare is my favorite Romantic Suspense author. Yes, I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s true, and this latest installment of the I-Team series only further solidifies her place of honor in this genre. The story is action packed from the first page to the last and once again I was kept on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next, and once that was revealed, how they’d ever be able to get out of it. And when I say my heart was pounding and my hands trembling while reading this story, I’m not exaggerating.

I won’t go into the plot, other than to say that the dedication gives us more insight into the depth of Breaking Point than the cover blurb ever could:

This book is dedicated to the memory of the hundreds of murdered and missing women of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. You were brutalized and discarded like you didn’t matter. But the earth received your tears, your blood, your bones, and, like a bereaved mother, the earth itself cries out for justice. May the violence end and those who stole your bodies and your lives be held to account.

With all of Pamela’s novels we are given stories we can believe in, causes we can champion, and if Breaking Point is any different at all, it’s only in that the underlying truth the story is founded on is so heartbreaking. And while it’s true that there are hundreds of missing and murdered women whose names we’ll never know, we know of them, and they live on through Pamela’s writing. They are not forgotten.

Now, as those of us I-Team fangirls know, this wouldn’t be a Pamela Clare novel without a gorgeous, passionate, hotter-than-hell hero and Zach MacBride fits that bill perfectly, giving us plenty of burn-up-the-pages sexy goodness! Both he and Natalie Benoit are incredibly strong people, inside and out, and they had to be in order to survive the physical and emotional hell they’re put through in this book.

While Breaking Point has one of the most intense, exciting endings I’ve ever read in a romantic suspense novel, it is also filled with memorable and heartwarming moments. One of my favorites from this book also takes place towards the end when we get a candid, touching glimpse into the depth of the friendship formed between Marc and Julian, a couple of I-Team heroes from previous books. It honestly brought tears to my eyes.

If you haven’t yet read this series, you’re seriously missing out on some incredible stories. They’ll enlighten you, entertain you, make you laugh, sigh and fan yourself, and they might even move you to tears, but most importantly, you’ll finish the book knowing that what you read was well worth your time. And who knows, you might even be inspired to take a look around and see what you can do, no matter how small it might seem, to make someone’s life a little better. To make a difference.

The I-Team reading order, so far:

1. Extreme Exposure
1.5 Heaven Can't Wait - a novella found in the out of print anthology Catch of the Day and on ebook
2. Hard Evidence
3. Unlawful Contact
4. Naked Edge
5. Breaking Point
5.5. Skin Deep
5.9. First Strike
6. Striking Distance
6.5. Soul Deep
7. Seduction Game
7.5 Dead by Midnight

Click here to purchase Breaking Point from Amazon

Friday, January 28, 2011

Whisper Falls by Toni Blake

Welcome to Destiny, Ohio—where coming home means finding your true heart and maybe even your true love.

Tessa Sheridan came crawling back home to Destiny after her big city interior design career crumbled. Now not only must she struggle to make ends meet, she has to contend with a biker next door and the roar of Harleys shattering the serenity of her cabin in the woods. Worse still, her sexy bad boy neighbor makes her feel breathless and weak—and shy, petite Tessa knows what a major mistake it would be to get involved with someone so…dangerous.

They say that former teen rebel Lucky Romo has a dark, secret past—that he’s trouble with a capital “T.” Still, Tessa feels all tingly when she sees how well he fills out a pair of tight jeans. And when Lucky invites her into his world, she knows the intense heat sparking between them could lead her somewhere wild and wonderful…and, yes, dangerous!


I never sit down and write reviews immediately after finishing a book, but this time, I just couldn’t help it! Whisper Falls is an amazing story about forgiving, moving forward, and not judging people without giving them a chance! Throughout the book the theme is about never giving up. It’s an inspiring story that had me laughing out loud, sighing, crying tears of both joy and sorrow, and most definitely fanning myself.

Lucky Romo is the ultimate bad guy and this story could have been so very dark, but despite all he’d been through in his life, Tessa gave him a sense of worth, and a place he belonged. She brought light into his dark world and without even knowing what was happening to him, she worked her way into his heart and freed the man he’d kept locked away. I sobbed, literally sobbed until my chest hurt, learning about this man and the boy he was who had never felt loved. He is most definitely worthy of a place on my Top Heroes self.

In the previous two books I never really felt much connection to Tessa Sheridan. I didn’t find her compelling and couldn’t imagine that she’d make a great heroine. Wow, did I ever miss the mark with her! In fact, I connected with her in a big way because I also have health problems that land me in bed for days at a time. But despite her own illness, she’s caring, nurturing, determined and easily my favorite woman out of the three books. She has her weaknesses, but refuses to be vulnerable and I found her attitude and her indomitable spirit so encouraging.

Some of my favorite things about this story are the quotes Tessa keeps written down in her little notebook. They’re sayings that she finds here and there, and all uplifting. Whenever she starts feeling down, she reads them and remembers how much she has to be thankful for. Those quotes made me realize how much I have in my life, and to be thankful for even the smallest things.

These are some of them -

-Think of all the beauty that’s still left in and around you and be happy. – Anne Frank

-If God sends us on strong paths, we are provided strong shoes. – Corrie ten Boom
          -Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you. – Walt Whitman

-Laugh. Dance. Ellen.
And my very favorite -
-Just keep swimming. – Dory, Finding Nemo
Thanks, for making it so simple, Tessa. I can do that.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Captive Bride by Bonnie Dee

Bonnie Dee writes some impressive historical romances, if for no other reason than they are unique. She takes the same old storylines and gives them a twist which makes them distinctive and definitely interesting! Captive Bride is another mail order bride gone wrong story, but this time we have Chua Huiann who has come to America to marry Xie Fuhua, a successful Chinese businessman. Her parents hadn’t met the man, but through Lui Dai, one of Xie’s servants/agents, they were assured that their beloved, albeit unruly daughter, would have a life of prosperity and happiness.  However, when Chua Huiann arrives in San Francisco she finds that things were not at all as they had been made out to be, and her life would be anything but happy.

Alan Sommers is the owner of a successful general store. He’s an honorable, hard working man who is running from the memories and nightmares that haunt him. Having fought in the Civil War and been taken prisoner early on, he spent years in captivity, not knowing whether he’d live or die, before he was finally released. Alan headed west to start a new life, but his nightmares followed him.

This story delves into the racism so prevalent during the period, and the hardships Asian immigrants endured while trying to make a life for themselves. I don’t want to go into detail about how Huiann and Alan meet and spoil it for you, but I enjoyed watching their relationship grow into a sweet love story. Their cultural difference and the language barrier made for some fun and touching moments.

Overall, Captive Bride was another enjoyable, very sexy read by Bonnie Dee, and I’m looking forward to more by this talented author.

This story was provided to me by

Tessa's Pride by Olivia Brynn

Tessa’s Pride is a sweet, very sexy, emotionally charged story about a woman’s determination to prove herself in a man’s world - and not just prove herself competent, but prove herself successful, a woman to be reckoned with.

The story opens with Tessa leading Sugar Cookie, the last of 40 horses who have all met a similar fate, into a trailer so she can be taken to be euthanized. I was reading along and thinking how sad it was, and then found myself in tears as I felt Tessa’s heart breaking at her sense of guilt over the outbreak of EIA – Equine Infectious Anemia – on the Bradley Equestrian Ranch.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been brought to tears that easily or that early in a book, but I was in this one, and it took me by surprise.

As the story progresses, we meet Josh Bradley, the son who walked away from the ranch and the reason it is now in Tessa’s hands. He’s moved on with his life, far from BER, but is still in touch with old friends. He’s gotten wind of Tessa’s problems and decides to return home to see how he can help restore the ranch to its former glory, and at the same time, try to pick up where he and Tessa had left off two years earlier – in the middle of a sexual encounter that was interrupted by his father.  

There were things about this book that I loved, but as with all shorter stories, the ending can sometimes feel rushed and unfortunately, this one had that, but then the epilogue made up for it, in my mind.

The bottom line – I really enjoyed this story. Tessa and Josh made for a fun, exciting hero and heroine, the sex was hot and the ending sweet. I’m so happy I chose to read Tessa’s Pride and will definitely be picking up more by this author!

This story was provided to me by

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Against the Wind by Kat Martin

This was the first book that I’ve read by Kat Martin, so I went into it with no preconceived ideas of what to expect from her storytelling and writing style. I know she’s published several books, so expected, at the very least, to enjoy the story, which for the most part, I did.

While I think that the premise of the story, and Jackson Raines as a character, were good, I felt like the writing itself was inconsistent. Sometimes it flowed really well, and other times it felt choppy. Sometimes I was able to feel what I was reading, and other times not. For example, this room service order they received sounded more like the reading of the daily special from a menu. There was nothing about the scents of the food that might make it sound appealing, it was an inventory of what was on their plates. –

They ordered two filets, medium rare, and Jackson added a bottle of Stag’s Leap Napa Valley cabernet. The plates came piping hot with fully loaded baked potatoes, two big green salads, and there was a strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Other than to say that Jackson picked at his food, there was no indication of whether they enjoyed the meal, only that a paragraph or two later they were done. I can only explain it by saying it felt empty.

And then there were repeated unnecessary descriptions of the clothing that people were wearing, and it came across - to me anyway - as a fashion report. And after their first time making love, which felt very unexciting to me, Sarah was thinking to herself what a demanding and intense lover Jackson was. And even Jackson, when recounting their love making of the night before said to Sarah, “I’m a man, after all, and a fairly demanding lover.” Seriously, I went back several pages to see what I missed, and found nothing that convinced me that he was anything other than… average.

I won’t go into a lot of character details, because unfortunately, they didn’t really stand out to me, although Jackson was at least consistent in his feelings for Sarah, whose emotions were wishy washy at best. Now, given all she’d been through, that would have been understandable, but we then go back to the lack of emotional detail given to them.

I felt like the whole murder/on the run/investigation aspect of the story wasn’t quite as convincing as it could/should have been and I don’t want to go into detail about it and possibly ruin the story for anyone who might read it. But, while Jackson’s actions and emotions were consistent with what I might have expected from an alpha male, they were not at all in keeping with what Sarah’s, actions, a mother worried about her daughter’s safety, would have been. It just wasn’t something I was able to buy into and as a major part of the storyline, that was something I definitely needed in order to feel their fear and their desperation to solve the crime.

So, this is a hard book to rate, because I knew what the author was trying to tell me, I knew the emotions she was trying to convey, but those things didn’t actually come through, never became anything more than words on the page that never leapt out and grabbed me, convincing me to believe what I was being told or that what I was being told was important. Honestly, I was pretty disappointed, and just about the time I was ready to throw in the towel, something would happen, I’d actually feel drawn into the story and couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next.

As I say, this is a hard book to rate, so I’ll break it down this way:

---Storyline and Character Potential – 4/5: I could see where the story was going and loved the idea of it.

---What was delivered – 2.5/5: As I said, I could see where it was going, but I didn’t feel it, never quite got there.

---Writing – 2/5: Again, it felt choppy and inconsistent in quality.

But that said, I have to admit, the Raines brothers, Jackson, Gabe and Dev, have me intrigued, and despite my less than stellar review of this book, I’m definitely planning to read Gabriel’s and Dev’s stories. How can that possibly be? you might ask. Well, I’ll tell you. There was so much potential in this book, and I’m hoping that in the next, that potential will be met, that the writing will flow consistently and will grab me, draw me in and compel me to keep reading as only sections of Against the Wind did.

2.75/5 stars

This story was provided to me by

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Letters to a Secret Lover by Toni Blake

Every so often I read a book that seems to have been special ordered for my needs at the time. You know the ones – they have just the right amount of angst, just the right level of steam, the perfect amount of relationship building before they finally admit they belong together and a story line that touches you deeply. Well, Letters to a Secret Lover is all that and more.

I can’t really tell you why without spoiling the story, but Rob Colter is my champion. Few storybook heroes touch me the way he did, and I have to admit, I cried more than a few tears for him. There were moments when my heart just broke because of the pain he’s lived with – the loneliness, the emptiness – knowing that there’s something he’s missing out on and believing he’ll never have it in his life. I can’t tell you what that something was without giving away too much of the story, but suffice it to say it moved me deeply.

Lindsey Brooks was such a fun loving heroine. To be honest, I didn’t much like her in the beginning. I thought for someone doling out relationship advice on her wildly popular Love Letters blog, she was pretty ditzy. But once she left Chicago and found her way to Moosefalls, she really started to become grounded. I loved how she grew as a person, realizing that there really was more to life than shopping for Jimmy Choos and being seen with the social elite she’d always associated with before her move. I’m glad she became the woman she did, because I couldn’t have accepted her relationship with Rob under any other conditions!

The other characters, the residents of Moosefalls, were all awesome people. They were just down to earth men and women who I’d love to have as friends and neighbors!

I love Toni Blake’s writing. It’s so easy to read, so normal… so real. I don’t feel like I’m reading a book, rather more like I’m watching a story unfold before my eyes. The characters are compelling people and their passions run deep. The sex scenes sizzle and border on erotic, but never feel out of place within the story. The physical relationship enhances the emotional relationship and that’s an absolute must if I’m going to give a book 5 stars. There was one thing that I thought was a little too coincidental, but it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the story.

The bottom line – this is my 3rd Toni Blake book and I’ve loved each one. Whether part of a series or a standalone like Letters to a Secret Lover, she’s become one of my favorite contemporary romance authors. I laughed, I cried, and I’m happy to say that I fell in love with Rob, Lindsey, and the entire town of Moosefalls, Montana. And I wouldn’t mind revisiting there someday.