Breaking Point by Pamela Clare
published by Berkley in May 2011
Denver journalist Natalie Benoit and Deputy U.S. Marshal Zach McBride find themselves captives of a bloodthirsty Mexican drug cartel. Working together, they escape through the desert toward the border, the attraction between them flaring hotter than the Sonoran sun. They fight to stay ahead of the danger that hunts them as forces more powerful than they can imagine conspire to destroy them both...Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: I-Team, Book #5
The Story: Natalie Benoit is a journalist, part of the I-Team, an award-winning investigative team, for the Denver Independent. Lately, she found herself in a rut and therefore signed up for a three-day convention in Juarez, Mexico to learn more about the inter-mingled issues of immigration, the drug trade and human trafficking between the United States and Mexico. She's in the bus with her colleagues when it gets raided - all the Mexican journalists are killed and for some unknown reasons, Natalie is kidnapped... and the next thing she knows, she is held captive, at the same place as Zach McBride, an American of dubious background who has been tortured.
It turns out that Zach is a Deputy U.S. Marshal and is working undercover. He's been sold out and set up by an Interpol agent who stole a shipment of cocaine. Thanks to his Navy SEAL training, Zach has withstood the torture... but he feels the end is near. That is until the drug cartel brings in the new captive, Natalie. Zach knows what awaits her and wanting to help her gives Zach a new purpose.
As Zach and Natalie escape and make their way back to the States, Zach knows deep down that Natalie was not kidnapped at random... And if he's right, what made her a target?
My Opinion: Usually, I try to stay away from books whose main characters are journalists or reporters, because I just hate them ^_^;; They make me want to scream, what with the whole "people has a right to know" which usually leads to TSTL or just plain annoying behaviors. However, Breaking Point has received a lot of good reviews, everyone raves about Ms Clare's writing... and did I ever tell you about the shortage of romantic suspense books? Anyway, I ended up picking Breaking Point during a "Buy 3, get the 4th free" promotion at the bookstore IIRC... and finally read it after a co-worker of mine binged on the I-Team series and raved about the books. And guess what? Yep, I ended up enjoying this book a lot LOL.
There are several reasons why I enjoyed Breaking Point so much. First, the heroine, Natalie, was awesome... and not just because she has the same name as me LOL. The first thing that strikes you with Natalie is how brave and courageous she is. She demonstrated it when she tried to save her colleague in the bus, then time and time again during the kidnapping and the escape... and when you learn about her past, you realize this bravery of hers comes from deep down. To have survived what she's been through and keep going on, brave is the perfect word to describe Natalie. I also loved that she was not passive during the escape, that she didn't sit around waiting for Zach to do all the work. I especially like that she's the one who actually saved them and then, listened to Zach to get back to the States because he knew more. She was just very composed and I felt that as a civil, it was refreshing. Zach was also a very interesting character that I enjoyed a lot. The fact that he turned his back on his life of privilege to make his own path says a lot about him. I liked that he was considerate of Natalie and what she was going through. Yes, he was an alpha, but didn't go overboard with his behavior. What I liked most though is the fact that his feelings towards Natalie progressed gradually and that he recognized them. It's nice to see a hero recognizes that he is in love without it being a punch in the face ^_^; The romance also worked for me. I enjoyed the chemistry between the two and how their relationship evolved. What I liked the most was their HEA ending with Natalie's decision. I liked that she could walk away...
What made the book for me was definitively the characters and their romance, although the story and suspense wasn't bad at all. The whole kidnapping being linked with one of Natalie's investigation made sense, although the connection was a bit tenuous. Still, it worked. Also, the past characters of the series play a big role, but they fit instead of being superfluous, especially the spouses and they were entertaining. Another reason why I think Breaking Point worked so well for me was the fact that Natalie being a reporter was not the focus of the story. For the first half of the book, Natalie isn't doing her job, she's trying to stay alive and therefore, there was nothing to be annoyed about.
My only complaint about Breaking Point is the big villain at the end. He was supposed to be a big shot and it seems they figure him out easily. Plus the ending was a bit anti-climatic ^_^; I guess I was expecting a bigger showdown and something more convoluted.
My Grade: B. A very enjoyable book :)