Breaking Point (I-Team #5)

Breaking PointBy Pamela Clare

Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publication Date: May 3, 2011
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Source: Purchased

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…

Goodreads Summary

His reward for pretending to trust the wrong woman has earned Zach McBride nearly a week of torture at the hands of some thugs of Los Zetas.  They think he’s grabbed a load of their cocaine and they want it back – only he hasn’t stolen a thing.  Zach has one thing worth more than their drugs – his identity as a U.S. Marshal.  The cartel could do all sorts of damage if they knew who he was, so Zach is prepared to die rather than let it slip.

Denver reporter Natalie Benoit was traveling with her colleague Joaquin Ramirez in Mexico for a conference when their bus was boarded by Los Zetas gang members who kidnapped her and threw her in the same prison that’s holding Zach.  After he warns her that she’ll likely be raped and murdered, Natalie is desperate to escape.  When she finds a way out, Zach comes up with a quick plan and the two of them make a run for it after a bloody gunfight.

The head of Los Zetas, Arturo Cardenas, is obsessed with recapturing Zach and Natalie and sends his men to shut down the border crossings, forcing them to head into the desert on foot for the four day trek back to the U.S.

It feels strange to say only five books in, but I haven’t always really liked this series even though I’ve read every book in it.  The first couple of books were suspenseful but didn’t really feel romantic and seemed a little same-y for me, even though technically they were really good.  It wasn’t until Naked Edge that I really felt the love and I think part of it was because of something that Clare carries over here too – she’s willing to show that her heroes aren’t always indestructible, that people really get physically hurt in ugly ways that scar, bruises last more than a couple of days and injuries don’t heal overnight.

That said, I’m going to be a little contrary and say that Zach is very much larger-than-life and a tad superhuman.  If I were going to be in the Mexican desert chased by an insane drug lord, I might rather have just him with me than a couple dozen armed guards.  When the action shifted back to Denver he was less in control of the situation and I liked him more.  Zach’s suffering from PTSD and survivor’s guilt and the only way he’s been able to cope is to keep putting himself in danger.  He told Natalie not to expect a commitment and he believed it until he had to go to Denver.

Natalie has generally just been portrayed as someone who was sad with a history tied to New Orleans in past I-Team books.  Her story about surviving hurricane Katrina was moving and explained some of her own issues with PTSD.  In places it contrasted the ways in which she’d been able to make peace with some parts of her past while Zach hadn’t.

One of the highlights of the story was the full-scale gathering of the characters from all of the other I-Team books to help Zach and Natalie.  While it was exciting – and yes, the best of the reunion part – to have the guys together, it was fun to have action at the newspaper too.  Crabby Tom is growing on me, which could be dangerous.

There was some sex (did you think I’d forget?).  Okay, there was a lot of super hot sex in the desert which seemed a little weird when you’ve got some really bad people chasing you – but maybe it was a good outlet?  Then there was some amazingly super hot sex when Natalie and Zach got back in the States and some more when they were reunited in Denver.  It was fan-yourself hot.  That’s Jed Hill on the cover, by the way – the same Jed Hill that did the infamous cover for The Perfect Play.  He might be objectified as a sex object if he continues doing covers for these sexy books (sigh).

My Summary: While Naked Edge is still my favorite I-Team book to-date, this is a close second. I bought the suspense story, loved the chemistry between Zach and Natalie and really felt their emotional stories.  The addition of the whole I-Team gang was a great choice – it tied this story together with the series beautifully and made me like some characters that I’d been pretty lukewarm about before.

My Rating: A-




  1. Nice review, nice…ahem…cover!

  2. Thank you! I liked that the cover was authentic and made sure that he was wearing a badge. I checked it out…thoroughly. 😀

  3. Such a hot cover! Jed Hill has the dreamiest body. I think I'm going to start collecting the books where he's the cover model. I don't even care if they're good, I just want to look at him over and over again!I've actually never heard of this author or series. I'll have to check it out and see what's up. Thanks for the rec!

  4. I keep buying the Kindle versions that don't come with covers (*shakes fist at Amazon), but if he keeps popping up I'm seriously going to consider buying the hard copies just for licking purposes. I think he did a Lauren Dane book too, one of her Federation Chronicles.Try Naked Edge, Caitlin – the heroine is Navajo so it's a little different, but the hero is seriously to die for.

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