Publisher: Pamela Clare

Deadly Intent by Pamela Clare

Deadly Intent by Pamela ClareDeadly Intent by Pamela Clare
Series: I-Team, #8
Published by Pamela Clare on February 21st 2018
Pages: 238
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four-stars

Secrets buried in the sand…

Former US Army Captain Mia Starr has built a new life for herself in Denver, far away from camel spiders and sand—and the terrible secrets of her first deployment to Iraq. She isn’t looking for a relationship, especially not with an intrusive photojournalist. Joaquin Ramirez might be sexy, but in her experience, photojournalists only want to make a buck off other people’s suffering. Still, the universe must have a sick sense of humor because it keeps throwing her together with Joaquin, making the desire she feels for him harder and harder to resist.

An undeniable attraction…

As a Pulitzer Prize-winning news photographer, Joaquin has everything a single straight guy could want—except the right woman. When he meets Mia while shooting a crime scene, he immediately sees beyond her cold exterior to the vulnerable woman beneath. Though the police consider her a suspect, he’s sure she’s innocent. Someone is killing soldiers—and trying to pin the blame on her. Unable to resist the pull between them, Joaquin stands by her only to find himself snared in the killer’s net as well.

A twisted soul hungry for revenge…

Mia can’t help it when the heat between her and Joaquin melts away her preconceptions. As their passion explodes, danger draws ever closer. When it becomes clear that Mia is the killer’s true target, she must trust Joaquin with a secret that could ruin her … or risk losing the love of a lifetime.

‘Deadly Intent’ is a reminder of how much I’ve missed Pamela Clare’s I-Team series, or rather the kind of romantic suspense that I’ve always associated Clare with, given the sharp ring of authenticity that comes from the author’s own journalistic background.

A bit of a confession here: it did take me a while to warm up to the idea of Joaquin Ramirez having his own story—I’d frankly forgotten about him after Zach/Natalie’s book—but Clare has a way of shaping him into a romantic hero that I championed wholly by the first quarter of the story.

And how far he’d come since then.

As a photojournalist, Joaquin broke some moulds which won me over quickly: instead of the gun-toting alpha male with bulging muscles who was ex-military (nor did he occupy expensive real estate in a security company while running around jaded and cynical), we got red-hot salsa moves and an impressive amount of heart he had for people around him. For that alone, I was sold on this very compelling protagonist whom I knew needed someone special to see him for who he was.

For all the heroines I’d ever imagined for Joaquin, I never expected the idea of a former military Captain as his other half but had no problem falling straight into this pairing hook, line and sinker once their relationship progressed beyond their rocky start. Much of their story was riveting enough—from their first dance that had me fanning myself to the seamless buildup and their crackling chemistry—that I got through ‘Deadly Intent’ in a matter of hours, then itched immediately to go back and re-read it.

The writing style is a little different here but ‘Deadly Intent’ is an excellent example of a more straight-forward RS read, not quite carrying the same complexity or unpredictability (plot-wise) as a few of Clare’s other I-team books, yet still well-paced with multifaceted protagonists whom I knew I could cheer for. It also bears the hallmarks of Clare’s collaborative efforts with another RS writer Kaylea Cross (another author whom I follow) and consequently, has a different feel to it, carrying a mesh of styles and subject-matter, along with the darker overtones of sexual assault and harassment of women in the military resonating deeply in the wake of the #MeToo hashtag dominating the media of late.

All things considered, I thought this was still a fabulous read. Revisiting the I-Team simply reminded me how much I liked Marc/Julian’s bromance and while catching up with Clare’s other couples was a hoot, I’m hoping that even with Joaquin/Mia’s iron-clad HEA, Clare has more in the works to come.

four-stars

Falling Hard by Pamela Clare

Falling Hard by Pamela ClareFalling Hard by Pamela Clare
Series: Colorado High Country, #3
Published by Amazon Digital Services, Amazon Publishing, Pamela Clare on February 21st 2017
Pages: 244
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four-stars

A war widow alone…

Ellie Meeks promised her pilot husband that if anything happened to him, she would live her life to the fullest. Three years later, she is still alone, raising the twins he never met. She has no interest in dating or meeting men—until one snowy night when a stranger helps her get her sick kids safely home. That stranger turns out to be a former Army Ranger and a member of the elite Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Team. He’s also tall, rugged… and irresistibly sexy.

All it takes is one kiss…

Jesse Moretti came to Colorado to get Iraq out of his head, using the adrenaline of extreme sports and high-risk mountain rescues to keep his mind off the past. But getting involved with Ellie might be the riskiest thing he’s ever done. It’s not just their explosive chemistry. There’s something about Ellie that gets inside him, opening him to feelings he’s tried hard to ignore.

When passion ignites…

Ellie feels alive in Jesse’s arms and happier than she ever thought she’d feel again. But their relationship comes at a price for him, and soon Ellie sees that she must help Jesse fight the demons of his past to protect the love of a lifetime—and save the heart of a hero.

What I really love about Pamela Clare’s Colorado High Country series is the ease of getting into the book and just how angst-free (or at least that’s kept to a minimum) it is. ‘Falling Hard’ is Jesse Moretti’s story, a war veteran who has a made a new life in Scarlet Springs as he licks his war wounds and deals with his PTSD. But no coincidence is too great when he finally finds out that his neighbour of 3 years is war widow Ellie Meeks, whose husband was a Hawk pilot whom he’d sort of known.

Clare’s new series isn’t suspense at all (her I-team series is one of the most outstanding suspense series for me), but I realised I do like her personal take on what contemporary romance should be. The small, fictional community of Scarlet Springs that Clare has based her books on means that characters from other books make constant reappearances and I enjoyed seeing Lexi, Hawke and the rest again.

There are clearly obstacles that both Jesse and Ellie need to get past – and one of them is the clearly the taboo of getting together with a fallen war vet’s partner – but they do. But Clare’s mature handling of both characters won me over from the very start: mistakes are made, yet apologies follow swiftly, with both Jesse and Ellie actually talking things out like the adults they are.

There aren’t exaggerated moments where conflict is created for the sake of creating one; no one flies into a temper for the sake of it and no one opposes a relationship simply because it added yet more difficulties for Jesse and Ellie to overcome. There are very hot, steamy scenes of course and a lot of children-centric conversations/scenes that I wasn’t able to relate to, but that didn’t matter in this case because Jesse’s and Ellie’s journey is a emotional, poignant one that would draw any reader in.

four-stars

Slow Burn by Pamela Clare

Slow Burn by Pamela ClareSlow Burn Series: Colorado High Country #2
Published by Amazon Digital Services, Amazon Publishing, Pamela Clare on September 20th 2016
Pages: 241
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four-stars

Victoria Woodley is done with men. Fresh off a dating nightmare, she flies from her home in Chicago to Scarlet Springs to take part in her best friend’s wedding. Who picks her up at the airport? Eric Hawke. Of course. She made a fool of herself over him last time she was here. He’s cocky, charming, and sexy as sin. But the fact that she’s attracted to him is all the proof she needs that he’s bad news. She would ignore him if she could. But he’s the best man, and she’s the maid of honor. She can’t just tell him to jump in a lake—especially not when her lips are locked with his.

Eric isn’t looking for a relationship. Between running the firehouse and volunteering for the county’s search and rescue team, he has enough on his plate. He doesn’t need to get tangled up with a woman from the big city, especially one whose idea of roughing it is going without designer coffee. Yet from the moment he looks into Victoria’s big brown eyes, the attraction he feels is too strong to deny. Faster than he can imagine, the spark of desire that has smoldered between them since the first day they met will flare into full-blown passion.

But can Eric convince Victoria to set aside her doubts and trust him with her heart before their time together runs out?

The country boy turned fire chief and the city girl have nothing in common, but their connection is undeniable and made deeper when their closest friends get married. But Pamela Clare thankfully makes this more than just a bridesmaid and best man hookup, as Victoria Woodley’s and Eric Hawke’s relationship progresses quickly beyond friendship through a series of events and activities that the bridal party cooks up for the week.

A huge part of ‘Slow Burn’ reads like an extended tourist brochure and I’m constantly caught out with envy over what these fictional characters do for fun—water-rafting, wake-boarding, climbing just to begin with—as part of the run up to Lexi’s and Austin’s wedding. Secondary characters flit in and out of these and the snippets we’re given of their lives made me eager for their own stories to be told. Above all, I was thrilled to see some of Clare’s I-team characters make their own cameos as they reminded me just how much I’ve missed them.

But with Victoria and Hawke, the angst is thankfully low and their devotion to each other evident as they ride through the swells and rapids of the backcountry and their own growing passion. Even with their issues—Hawke is perceived to be a bit of a playboy and Vic understandably wary of men after her last dating disaster—Clare does make a very good case for Vic and Hawke together, bringing their differences to a manageable scale with a sugary sweet epilogue that cements their HEA.

And if this hadn’t made me a hardcore fan of Colorado High Country series, I don’t know what else will.

four-stars

Barely Breathing by Pamela Clare

Barely Breathing by Pamela ClareBarely Breathing by Pamela Clare
Series: Colorado High Country #1
Published by Pamela Clare on May 11th 2016
Pages: 272
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four-stars

Lexi Jewell left Scarlet Springs twelve years ago, vowing never to return to the small Colorado mountain town where she grew up. Now, here she is-over thirty, out of a job and with little choice but to move back in with her eccentric father. Lexi knows it's just a matter of time before she runs into Austin Taylor, her first boyfriend and her first heartbreak. She's determined to show him she's over him-until he steps out of a pickup truck and back into her life, looking sexy as hell in his mountain ranger uniform. As far as Austin is concerned, Lexi can turn her snazzy little convertible around and drive back to Chicago. After all, she ripped his teenage heart to pieces and turned her back on the town he loves. But from the moment he sees her again, he can't get her out of his mind. Even her smile messes with his head. When an evening of conversation turns into something else, Lexi and Austin agree to be friends-with benefits. But as Lexi starts making plans to return to the big city, Austin realizes he'll lose her a second time unless he can show her that what she's searching for has been right here all along.

A hugely enjoyable start to a new contemporary, adventure series filled with incredible characters doing jobs I can only dream of doing but can’t ever achieve, a sweet second-chance story and very steamy sexy times that (thankfully) leave nothing to the imagination.

It’s definitely more light-hearted than the I-Team series, with less suspense and no federal-level conspiracies or high-level takedowns, but the breathtaking descriptions of country, the thrills of every climb and every heart-racing SAR session simply show Pamela Clare in her element with a story that’s right up her alley.

four-stars

Dead by Midnight: An I-Team Christmas by Pamela Clare

Dead by Midnight: An I-Team Christmas by Pamela ClareDead by Midnight by Pamela Clare
Series: I-Team #7.5
Published by Pamela Clare on November 16th 2015
Pages: 238
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four-stars

Marc and Sophie Hunter, Gabe and Kat Rossiter, Holly Andris and the rest of the I-Team gang find themselves in the same historic Denver hotel celebrating the approach of Christmas at different holiday parties. What starts out as a fun winter evening with friends soon becomes a brutal fight to survive when the hotel is taken over by a group of ruthless narco-terrorists who will stop at nothing to get what they want. On the outside, Julian Darcangelo, Zach McBride, Nick Andris, and others join together with the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team in a desperate bid to free their friends, knowing that if they fail, the people they love will be... Dead by Midnight. Featuring cameo appearances by the men of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, a series by New York Times bestselling author Kaylea Cross.

Very well-written with a great little insertion of Kaylea Cross’s FBI HRT guys, although right now it hits all too close to home in the wake of the tragic Paris attacks at the end of 2015. Reading Pamela Clare’s blow-by-blow account of the shootout and hostage-taking is almost akin to walking the doomed footsteps of the anonymous thousands who took themselves out in the mild autumn Parisian evening and came back forever changed. But insoasfar as fiction mirrors reality, Ms. Clare gives her readers at least, a reprieve from the brutal violence, and ends her I-team series on a high.

four-stars