Friday, May 28, 2010

Review: Naked Edge by Pamela Clare

Naked Edge is Pamela Clare’s latest release in her I-Team series, romantic suspense novels featuring the members of a team of investigative reporters at a Denver newspaper. I’ve read one other book in the series, Extreme Exposure, which I enjoyed, but didn’t find extraordinary.

I’m not a big romantic suspense reader. I find that very few achieve a good balance between romance and suspense, and characterization suffers for the sake of action. Even so, the intriguing excerpts on Ms. Clare’s blog tempted me to order Naked Edge. I wasn’t disappointed.

This book is a prime example of an author writing what she knows. Ms. Clare uses her experience as an investigative journalist and her knowledge of Denver’s rock-climbing and skiing community to make her characters three-dimensional and her plot authentic. The heroine, Katherine James, is a member of the I-Team, a Navajo who holds to the spiritual traditions of her people even though she has chosen a future away from the reservation. Those traditions require that she save sex for marriage. Not many authors would take the risk of writing a twenty-six -year -old virgin as a heroine in a contemporary romantic suspense, but I found Kat James to be a completely believable, strong and sympathetic young woman.

The hero, Gabriel Rossiter, is a Boulder Mountain Parks ranger with an adrenaline addiction. Gabe lives for the rush – quick, casual sex, extreme skiing, crazy rock-climbing. Where Kat has deep-rooted spiritual beliefs, Gabe believes in nothing. His faith in life and in people has been shattered, and he is determined not to look beyond the moment.

Gabe and Kat meet when, climbing off-hours, he sees her fall off a mountain trail. He saves her life, and that’s the end of it – until the two become involved in trying to protect Mesa Butte, a piece of sacred Navajo land, from looters who are stealing Native American artifacts. Looters who will kill to protect themselves.
As the danger to Kat heightens, Gabe starts to question his belief that love boils down to pheromones, and she begins to wonder if he isn’t the man she’s been waiting for – her ‘half-side’. In the end, in a life-or-death situation, Gabe shows just how much he’s willing to sacrifice for the woman who has made him re-evaluate himself and his life from the inside out.

It’s that journey that made this book special for me. Gabe evolves from a man who’s easy to dislike – and who loathes himself – to one with immense courage and heart. Kat accepts Gabe for who he is, without betraying her beliefs. The suspense builds relentlessly to the blackest of black moments, and the resolution left me with tears in my eyes. Naked Edge has the same kind of passionate intensity and rich characterization I enjoy in Ms. Clare’s historicals. She’s working on the next I-Team novel now, and I’ll be pre-ordering it when it’s available. This author is quickly becoming an auto-buy for me.