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REVIEW: Breakpoint by JoAnn Ross

Dear Ms Ross,

Some of the other DA reviewers talk about how certain authors and their books are like crack. As soon as the next book is out, it’s in their hot hands and being devoured. I prefer to compare such books to potato chips. I open the bag and intend to only eat a few. Okay, a couple more. All right and damn the bag is practically empty so might as well finish it off. Sometimes my fried snack food weakness bothers me more than others and sometimes I regret reading potato chip books more than others. This is one that I don’t feel too bad about.

Dallas O’Halloran and Julianne Decatur have a history. A bad history since it was Julianne’s job as a Navy JAG Lieutenant to question Dallas about the actions of his fellow Spec Ops survivors of a goat fuck of a mission gone wrong. No one was ever prosecuted but only because none of the higher ups were interested in seeing anything go to trial.

Then Dallas’s black ops cover was effectively shot to shit on a later mission while Julianne was discovering that the rungs on her Naval career ladder had been dismantled. So now the former Air Force enlisted man has signed up with the Phoenix Team and the former Naval officer has joined a new, super secret undercover sort of thingie group called THOR.

What Dallas doesn’t know is that Julianne is with THOR and what she doesn’t know is that he’s a liaison from Phoenix Team. And what they’re both about to discover is that they’ve been paired to find out what happened to a Naval pilot whose death aboard a carrier was originally deemed a suicide but which now looks like murder. As Dallas says, they and a lot of others are going to be in a world of suck before this is all over.

There is some serious military man worship going on here. Which, given the status of all the heroes as former military men makes sense but the degree gets in the way of the story at times.

Thank you for mentioning how few happy ever after marriages there are with Spec Ops men while they’re still in the military. One reason this series works for me is that all these men are retired – even if they do work for Phoenix. However, the new THOR group made me grit my teeth – but then even the idea of super-duper, uber secret, deep black government groups makes me twitch.

The balance between romance and suspense is good. There’s a tad too much mental lusting for my personal taste but the story doesn’t get bogged down with one side over the other and the back and forth switching romance <–> suspense isn’t jarring.

Juls stays fairly professional when in work mode and doesn’t turn into whimp girl so she can be saved by Dallas. She owns her Ice Bitch title and even seems to revel in it. I found her cool, sardonic comments to Dallas totally in keeping with her personality. Also, her controlled demeanor fits with her background as a military brat. They seem to either be this way or totally wild.

Dallas hasn’t let his childhood wreck him nor does he carry the baggage around or pull it out at the drop of a hat. No Angst Boy here, thank God. Again with him, you integrate his past into his adult behavior. His history of multiple foster homes accounts – a little – for his tendency to use charm to ease his way while the Bible beater in his past fires up Dallas’s dislike of the religious mentor on the boat.

My, you watched the PBS Carrier series, didn’t you? Cdr David Fravor and his night carrier landing on a pitching boat after flying the tanker was pretty cool, though. I do like how you work current military issues into the story – PTSD, military suicides, accepting women as fighter pilots, divorce rates, difficulty of long distance relationships, the rigid hierarchy and difficulty in hitting all the right notes to progress to the upper echelons of rank.

What happened to the video cameras onboard ship? I remember Jane mentioning something in the review for “Crossfire” about how the security cameras were mentioned but then they never figured in the final resolution of the story. Same here. Or are we just supposed to know that the villain has enough oomph to be able to remove all evidence or that the tapes were looped over. Anyway, why mention it only to drop it?

And Dallas can’t read a topo map? WTF? I find that….interesting and convenient yet, strangely, again having no bearing on the final outcome of the story so…again…why mention it?

The whole subplot about Merry in trouble and how Juls finds out about it could either be uplifting or unintentionally hilarious, depending on a reader’s take on it. I found it tacked on, personally. Kidnapping! Wildfires! Hails of bullets being fired between the rescuers and the kidnappers with Merry and her eight months pregnant self running between them then Tom slinging her over his shoulder. Slinging an eight months preggers woman over his shoulder? Is that possible? No wonder her water then broke so we have Delivery of Twins with Dallas unexpectedly charmed by the sight!

The quickie romance didn’t totally faze me since these two discover how much they have in common as the story progresses. You showed me why they should end up getting along and falling in love instead of merely presenting it as – voila! after 340 pages of fighting, we’re in love.

Cracking the case is done methodically, albeit with Dallas’s computer savvy coming in awfully handy at times. But the tactic he uses to focus on the intersections of the major players makes sense and helps wrap up the case in the allotted time frame.

But enough of Helmuth von Moltke the Elder’s famous quotation. After the fourth time I read it, my mind screamed “Yes, I get it. I got it the last three times too.” B-


This book can be purchased at Amazon. No ebook format that I could find despite all previous High Risk novel series being in digital. Whatever.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Lori
    Jul 07, 2009 @ 14:58:51

    So many people don’t like this series, but I’m so happy that there’s someone out there who shares my little JoAnn Ross crack potato chip addiction. I liked this one, too. And I agree that the whole Merry thing seemed superfluous and unnecessary. But otherwise, I was right there.

  2. Jayne
    Jul 08, 2009 @ 03:03:08

    I did seriously wonder about the Merry subplot. Was it needed to give Juls more family background? Or did someone decide that this romantic suspense, military thriller needed children in it? Dunno, but I laughed during the rescue and I don’t think that’s what Ross had in mind.

    So…who’s the hero of the next book? Was he one of the guys along on the Afghan mission?

    Here, have another potato chip…. ;)

  3. Amanda
    Jul 08, 2009 @ 19:50:51

    Oooh, I’m a fan of this series too. Though I haven’t read this one yet because I’m trying not to buy new books before RWA. If JR isn’t there I’ll get it when I get back. They aren’t perfect but there is something compelling about this series. And most JoAnn Ross books. When it comes down to it I think I just like the characters she writes.

    I think I had some inkling of whose book would come after Dallas’s when I finished the last book but I’ve completely forgotten now.

  4. Jayne
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 02:44:52

    Just checked and the hero is Sax Douchett. Seems the set up is that he was on that mission with the rest of them but left for dead then taken prisoner. So I guess that’s why I didn’t initially remember his name.

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