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REVIEW: Breaking Point by Pamela Clare

Dear Ms. Clare:

My takeaway memory of this book was me gripping my book and saying “oh no she didn’t”. And by she, I meant you, and by “oh no” I meant, wow, I didn’t see that coming. If a reader is looking for a book containing a great special forces hero operations (former SEAL, in fact), this would fit the bill. It has a smart and capable heroine, a powerful and adoring special forces operations hero, and a thrilling action/adventure storyline.

Breaking Point by Pamela ClareNatalie Benoit moved away from New Orleans after Katrina. She had lost so much that just being there hurt her heart. She took a job with Denver Independent and while she loved her job, she wasn’t loving her life. She felt stuck and in an effort to snap out of her ennui, she takes an assignment that brings her to Mexico. She is captured by Los Zetas, a criminal organization, and taken hostage. In her dirt cell, she meets Zach McBride, former Navy SEAL, and current DUSM.

Zach was undercover seeking intelligence information that would lead to the capture of Arturo Cesar Cardenas, the head of Los Zetas. He receives a tip but it is ultimately betrayed by a female who must have been in the employ of Cardenas. The two bond over their shared captivity, one from which Zach believes they will not escape. Zach’s goal is to make sure he doesn’t reveal any information via interrogation before they kill him and after questioning by Natalie, he frankly tells her that her fate is likely rape over a period of days or weeks after which she will be sold and killed. In some gallows humor, Natalie responds “M-my mother always told me there’d come a day when I’d regret asking so many questions.”

Natalie has to trust Zach even though credible circumstances lead her to believe that Zach stole cocaine from Cardenas. Some of Zach’s exploits seem far fetched but given what we know about SEAL training which includes Hell Week, a week of training that is five days of intense physical training wherein the trainees get only five hours of sleep the entire week. Consider that to even be considered for the program, you must be able to swim 500 yards within 12 minutes 30 seconds; perform 42 push-ups in 2 minutes; 50 sit ups in two minutes (I can actually do this so …); run a mile and a half in under 11 minutes. I find it believable that Zach, after days of torture, could have enough reserves to take action. And I appreciated that Natalie was not portrayed as a helpless woman even though she didn’t have the physical prowess Zach possessed.

. When it came to fighting, her only assets were her intelligence and her courage.

That’s why Zach had been trying all night to prepare her mind, channeling more than a decade of combat and law enforcement experience into a few stolen hours.

This book is full of action and adventure but more importantly, an emotional plotline between Natalie whose heart had never really restarted after her Katrina loss and Zach who had always wanted the wife, kids and home but after the war was never able to find that right person. At times, Zach even believed he didn’t deserve to have that kind of contentedness.

Many of the characters of previous books appear, particularly the guys because there is action! and adventure! and if one finds themselves in Denver, CO, then these guys are going to show up. I didn’t mind their insertion because it was a natural inclusion. Given their roles in past books, it would be more odd for them not to appear.

However, I did feel like the biggest part of the plot relied on what I considered to be a coincidence. It didn’t bother me, but it didn’t quite fit into authenticity that permeates every other part of the story.

Finally, this story, unlike many RS books out there has a high degree of sexual tension. You never close the bedroom door and the physical attraction and the consumation of that attraction is just as exciting as when characters are rappelling off the roof in the cold rainy night.

So for that scene where I went “Oh no she didn’t” (which was accompanied by an audible gasp), I won’t reveal it because readers have to discover that scene themselves. But I will say so many stories in romance take a disneyfied approach where a person is captured by a bad guy and nothing bad ever really happens to them which isn’t very believable. Bad things happen to good people in your books and that makes the HEA all the more precious. B

Best regards

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

35 Comments

  1. LEW
    May 06, 2011 @ 14:27:52

    I finished this book in two days and thoroughly enjoyed it. I love Clare’s I-Team series, and this one was no let-down. A great balance of action, sexual tension, and likable characters (especially considering the H/H in Breaking Point had so much baggage) with true character development. However, I realize that I need to re-read it. For some reason I didn’t love it quite as much as I thought I was going to (as in, I’d give it 4 stars instead of 5), and I need to find out why. Though, I’m starting to feel that I just need time to let the book digest; I think I’ve felt this way with all of Clare’s books – I like them more a week after I read them than the moment I finish. In that case, maybe I’ll just re-read the whole series!

    I agree with Jane on most points, and especially in that I like how Clare doesn’t pull her punches when it comes to bad things happening to her heroes/heroines, or doesn’t keep the bad things to the events before the book. Definitely takes the Disney out of it in a way I thoroughly appreciate. Jane, I had an “oh no she didn’t” moment with the book, too, so I’m assuming it was the same as your moment (though I’m curious). And I hope this isn’t too much of a spoiler, but I have to say that my favorite moment in the book was actually the bromance between Marc and Julian. So, needless to say, I LOVE that the heroes of the previous I-Team books made an appearance. I find myself far more attached to Clare’s heroes than the heroines, and I love seeing them make an appearance!

    Romance Suspense is my favorite subgenera, and Pamela Clare is at the top of my favorite authors list.

  2. LoriK
    May 06, 2011 @ 14:31:28

    I liked all but one of the earlier I-Team books and I’ve been looking forward to this one. Now I’m even more anxious to get my copy.

    One note though: SEALs are Special Operations, not Special Forces. Based on my experience with the SpecOps & the Special Forces people I’ve met, they take the distinction seriously. :)

  3. Maddie
    May 06, 2011 @ 14:45:27

    Just picked this book up yesterday, my first book from this author.

    I have to say that my adventure in New Author Land has been great so far. Happy with my picks

  4. Gennita Low
    May 06, 2011 @ 14:48:01

    Cain’t wait to get this book! Love them SEALs and PC is always a fun read.

  5. CD
    May 06, 2011 @ 14:56:17

    “One note though: SEALs are Special Operations, not Special Forces. Based on my experience with the SpecOps & the Special Forces people I’ve met, they take the distinction seriously. :)”

    Opps. What is the difference? Judging by a comment on another board, I do need to pay more attention to the various different branches of the military apart from just airforce, navy and army…

  6. Jane
    May 06, 2011 @ 15:14:57

    @LoriK Thank you. I certainly don’t want to offend anyone (although seriously no spec forces / spec ops person is reading this blog)

  7. Jane
    May 06, 2011 @ 15:15:31

    @LEW My oh no she didn’t moment involve Julian. And yes, LOVED the bromance. Man I should have mentioned that. I love stories with good bromance in them.

  8. Shannon Stacey
    May 06, 2011 @ 15:16:34

    WHY haven’t I read this series? How can I have missed it? Off to buy some books…

  9. Kim in Hawaii
    May 06, 2011 @ 15:19:53

    I remember DA’s review of Naked Edge last year. I was intrigued by the I-Team, but I shy away from romantic suspense, especially those involving military heroes.

    Then I met Pamela at RomCon. I was entranced by her commitment to investigative journalism as her day job. I made a mental note to check out her books. But the months slipped by. We reconnected again in December for Pearl Harbor Day. Her uncle is entombed in the USS Utah off Ford Island. We traded emails about her research of Navy Seals and Deputy US Marshals. I was honored when Pamela asked me to review BREAKING POINT. It was engrossing, heartbreaking, heart thumping, and heartwarming at the same time. I also picked up on the theme that Pamela’s HEA is not a safe Dumbo ride. Rather, it is the chilling unknown of Space Mountain.

    I read BREAKING POINT as a standalone book. I knew about the preceding four books with Natalie’s coworkers from the I Team. But Natalie and Zach were able to carry the story on their own. Their time together in the first half of the book gave us the opportunity to learn more about them. As a military veteran, I appreciate how Pamela portrayed Zach. Although I have not trained as a Seal, Zach’s actions and emotions were spot on.

    In the second half of the book, Pamela brings together the I Team and their hunky hero husbands who serve in different law enforcement agencies. I picked up on the camaraderie that these four shared.

    And then came the climax where four separate scenes come crashing together. I was just blown away by how Pamela combined the action and emotions.

    (I suggested to Pamela that one scene would make an excellent poster, “Got air?”)

    It is quite fitting that BREAKING POINT was released this week as we celebrate the Navy Seals. BREAKING POINT will resonate with military, law enforcement and first responders as it showcases Teamwork, Service before Self, and Code of Conduct.

    Pamela introduced us to Colorado Marshal Teresa Rowan, “the alpha” leader of the deputized team. I hope Pamela writes her story!

  10. LEW
    May 06, 2011 @ 15:25:05

    @Jane: Yes! That was my “Oh no she didn’t” moment, too. My mouth was agape.

  11. LoriK
    May 06, 2011 @ 15:44:42

    I doubt anyone is actually going to be offended by the SpecOps vs Special Forces thing. They’re pretty used to it. News stations have been doing it, and it’s their job to get it right.

    The short version that the term Special Operations applies to all units that are part of USSOCOM (US Special Operations COMmand). Special Forces are part of US Army Special Operations Command—the Green Berets, and I believe the Rangers.

    When people talk about SpecOps they usually mean either the SEALs or Delta, but there are also AF and Marine SpecOps units.

  12. Annabel
    May 06, 2011 @ 16:06:43

    My friend has been yelling at me for months now to read Pamela Clare’s work–all of it! She’s buzzed through everything in her backlist and loved it all. I need to get off my butt and read her too because everything I’ve heard about her has been good.

    Thanks for the review.

  13. Marquetta
    May 06, 2011 @ 16:24:10

    I received this book from the publisher with a packet of other books. I’ve been hesitant in reading this book because I’m a stickler about reading series books out of order. I’ve never read this series before. Your review has convinced me that “series order be damned” and to read this book! Thanks!

  14. Ridley
    May 06, 2011 @ 16:55:56

    I’d really love to read this series, since I *love* her historicals, but they’re agency priced, and I only enjoy it when my husband screws me.

    Maybe someday…

  15. becca
    May 06, 2011 @ 20:20:32

    I’m always looking for good romantic suspense, but not when the Kindle price is the same as the paper price. Guess I’ll wait til the next Borders coupon comes out.

  16. Kaetrin
    May 06, 2011 @ 21:43:05

    I can’t wait to read this one – I love the I-Team series.

    As for Spec Ops/Forces, in the latest Suz Brockmann, Izzy Zanella (IIRC) describes the difference by saying that the Special Forces come in force like Black Hawk Down and Spec Ops are covert – it’s an operation rather than a show of force. Given Ms. Brockmann’s other books and the research she does etc, I was prepared to believe the explanation! :)

  17. Lynn S.
    May 06, 2011 @ 22:12:01

    Pamela Clare is so very good at this. I’m not a fan of romantic suspense in general but she breathes new life into the form. I did do a bit of a double take at the thought of a convention in Juarez, Mexico. Since it’s professional journalists okay, but I can’t see them being knee deep in bookings.

    Also, not loving the new direction of the cover art. Do we need to confuse her with Maya Banks for some reason? But I got a silly grin at the placement of your recommended banner. If it had been canted the opposite direction, it would have been priceless. Breaking Point indeed.

    The military is wonderfully cliquish although there are differences between all the varied groups. Don’t quote me here, but the Special Forces (Green Berets) are under the umbrella of the Special Operations Command so Special Operations would be the go-to term. And since there’s a former Green Beret co-writing romances, you might have one or two among your readers. My dad is a former Army Ranger and he reads Nora Roberts, so anything is possible.

  18. Kim in Hawaii
    May 07, 2011 @ 03:31:09

    Check out this article about Navy Seals and BREAKING POINT in the Washington Post:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/seals-go-from-superhero-to-sex-symbol/2011/05/04/AFCuNgAG_story.html

    I’ve also sent an email to a retired SEAL and a former neighbor who I know was Special Forces for the “official” distinction between Special Forces and Special Operations.

    By the way, my neighbor used to run in his kevlar vest (for endurance), bouncing a tennis ball (for coordination). He looked like Pamela’s cover!

  19. Linda Winfree
    May 07, 2011 @ 09:36:23

    Downloaded the sample to my Kindle last night and oh, so wanted to hit the “Buy Now” button at the end of the excerpt. But $7.99 for an ebook? It kills me.

    Someone tell me it’s worth eight bucks . . .

  20. Kim in Hawaii
    May 07, 2011 @ 11:50:24

    @Linda Winfree: It’s worth $7.99 for its non stop action, chilling suspense, humorous bromance, and a glimpse into a hero’s heart.

  21. Linda Winfree
    May 07, 2011 @ 13:11:04

    @Kim in Hawaii:

    All right, Kim, I’m sold. Thanks!

  22. Kate Pearce
    May 09, 2011 @ 12:05:11

    It’s really good. I downloaded it Saturday and spent a very happy Mother’s Day reading the whole thing and eating chocolate-I couldn’t put it down! I love angst in my heroes and heroines, so I loved this one. :)

  23. Unpacking the Navy SEAL hero in romance or the magic in “Let me take care of you”
    May 10, 2011 @ 04:00:52

    […] REVIEW: Breaking Point by Pamela Clare […]

  24. Janine
    May 11, 2011 @ 03:35:21

    I finished this book and would give it a B+. It wasn’t perfect but it hit the spot for me. The “oh no she didn’t” moment didn’t surprise me as much, probably because this review had me anticipating something, but also because of the “oh no she didn’t” moment at the end of her previous book, Naked Edge.

  25. Jane
    May 11, 2011 @ 07:16:11

    @Janine I am surprised more characters weren’t killed at the end particularly Julian. Villains are so sloppy.

  26. Janine
    May 11, 2011 @ 14:56:12

    @Jane:

    SPOILERS!!!
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    I couldn’t figure out how Julian got out of the trunk of the car.

    I was expecting most of the guys we cared about to survive because they were heroes in previous books in the series. It’s one of those artificial things that come with series that follow a group of characters, where everyone gets a HEA — I always find it difficult to suspend disbelief that so many blissfully happy couples would be related or connected in some fashion, and that nothing sad or bad happens to any of them.

    It’s actually less glaring in this series than in most, because of Tessa’s miscarriage and Gabe’s prosthetic leg. Although it’s still unlikely that all these I-Team reporters would be married to such tough guys and as you say, that all of them would survive a situation like this one.

    The one I actually expected to bite the dust was Joaquin, since he’s not married to anybody, and he kept doing dangerous things he wasn’t supposed to. I loved his arc in the story though, and liked him a lot as a character, so I was willing to overlook his improbable survival. I wonder if there will be a book about him?

  27. Jane
    May 11, 2011 @ 17:18:20

    @Janine – I thought Joaquin’s life expectancy was short too. And like you, I thought Tessa’s storyline was also different and I kind of appreciated it. Did you ever read the Steele Street series by Tara Janzen? It was about this group of crime fighters too and one of the characters that had a recurring role was this new age guy who taught women how to get in touch with their feminine side or something like that. Anyway, he was a total pacifist, non gun toting character. He eventually gets his own book but by that time he’s transformed into this super spy warrior guy and it was such a disappointment. I quit the series after that.

    As for your spoiler question, I guess someone is super human. LOL!

  28. JessP
    May 11, 2011 @ 19:36:06

    @ Jane and @ Janine – wasn’t there a passing mention that Julian pushed the back seat(s) forward and got out of the trunk that way? That was my impression, but maybe I just filled in the blanks.

  29. Jane
    May 11, 2011 @ 19:37:38

    @JessP: yeah but he was shot in the shoulder and his … well, you know… so superhuman.

  30. Janine
    May 11, 2011 @ 23:46:34

    @JessP:

    SPOILER
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    I must have missed that, but then wouldn’t he still have to open the car door? Presumably it would be locked. Did he kick out a window and crawl outside, or what? Wouldn’t that set off a car alarm? And even with the bad guy’s backup plan, I would think they’d still leave a driver waiting in the car for a quicker getaway. So he’d have the driver to deal with, too. I would have preferred that the police find him still in the car, myself.

  31. Janine
    May 11, 2011 @ 23:53:30

    @Jane: Tess’s storyline makes me want to read her book all the more.

    No, never read the Janzen series but it sounds disappointing.

  32. JessP
    May 12, 2011 @ 00:37:32

    @Janine:
    Well, if he manages to wriggle from the trunk into the back seat (and there are vehicles where you can do this if you can get the seats folded forward), then shouldn’t he just be able to pull the door latch, whether it’s locked or not? The bad guys have moved on by then, so if the car alarm goes off that’s not a big deal. Also, I think in newer vehicles there is often a pull cord of some type precisely so you can open the trunk if you somehow wind up locked inside (eg, carjacked)(although I’m not 100% on that).
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    ******SPOILERS*****
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    Plus, he did manage to text a warning, and I got the impression he might have still been in the trunk while he did it – texting the warning first, then breaking out – but I’m not sure about that. Texting couldn’t have been easy, given the reason why he was in the trunk in the first place. Think of all the letters on the left side of the keyboard! Definitely in the realm of the superhero, but it was Julian! Darcangelo! Of course he did it, then climbed up 23-24 flights of stairs and, oh by the way, took care of the villain while he was at it. I did love this book!

  33. Janine
    May 12, 2011 @ 14:26:22

    @JessP: Good point about the door latch. I still think though that any halfway competent bad guys would leave a driver in the car if they wanted to try to get away that way. It sounded like they did want to (although they had a backup plan in case that didn’t work).

    I think that Pamela Clare’s characters feel very much like real people otherwise which is why some of this superhero stuff is a little jarring to me. I agree it was a very good book.

  34. eggs
    May 19, 2011 @ 03:53:38

    I’d never even heard of Pamela Clare until reading this thread, but based on this review, and seeing as it seemed the book was readable stand alone, I bought the kindle version – and devoured it in one evening! It was very readable without reading the prior books and totally excellent of itself. Loved it!

    HOWEVER, I then went straight back to the start of the I-team series. I would say that I loved all of them, but I can’t because I hit the Great Wall of Geographic Regions that blocks off kindle books to Australians. Book 1? Available. Book 2? Available. Book 3? Available. Book 4? NOT available to Australians. Book 5? Available (obviously – because I loved it!).

    I see this pattern over and over again with series novels where random titles within a series are not available due to geographical restrictions. Something in the water’s not clean when books 1,2,3 & 5 are available – but not book 4. I’ve even struck the same wall with series as popular as the Bridgertons. It shits me no end when they randomly remove access to one title in a series. Is it some kind of experiment to see if we like the author enough to mail order a copy? I don’t know. I’m not invested enough in the series to do that, but if it were available on the kindle, I’d be buying it right now.

  35. The Villain - Dear Author
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 04:57:18

    […] the sex trade are two types that seem to fall into number 3 or 4. (See e.g., Pamela Clare’s Breaking Point).  Many people clamoured for a book featuring Louis Renard, the villain in All The Queen’s […]

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