Sunday, May 22, 2016

Review: Naked Edge

Naked Edge

by Pamela Clare
Book 4 of I-Team series

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0 Stars

What do you do when desire drives you to the very brink?

The day Navajo journalist Katherine James met Gabriel Rossiter, the earth literally moved beneath her feet. Nearly killed in a rockslide while hiking, she found her life in the tall park ranger's hands. Although she can't forget him she thinks she'll never see him again. She is crushed when she recognizes her rescuer among the law enforcement officers raiding a sweat lodge ceremony one night, throwing her and her friends off Mesa Butte, land they consider sacred.

Gabe long ago swore he would never again lose himself to a woman not even one with long dark hair and big eyes that seem to see right through him. But from the moment he first sees Kat, the attraction he feels is undeniable. Appalled by what he has been ordered to do, he's determined to get to the bottom of recent events at Mesa Butte and to keep Kat safe.

But asking questions can be dangerous almost as dangerous as risking one's heart. And soon Kat and Gabe's passion for the truth and each other makes them targets for those who would do anything, even kill, to keep Native Americans off their sacred land.

Some Thoughts Immediately After Finish Reading:
I'm trying to formulate the right things to say about this particular installation of the I-Team series, because I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about the entire story, plus the ending. The "feel" of Naked Edge just wasn't as... stimulating as the previous books. Hard Evidence was intense and exciting, Unlawful Contact was emotionally stimulating and full of suspense and "Wow"-ness, and Extreme Exposure was the thrilling introduction to our I-Team world... but Naked Edge seems a little more tame in comparison. I'm not saying it wasn't good; I'm just saying I didn't get "that excited feel" from it that I got from the previous books.

Am I being a little unfair? Maybe, but that's why I'm trying to sort through my thoughts first before saying too much.

So... review to come.


Some Thoughts After Collecting Thoughts Now Long After Finish Reading:
Okay, so it didn't take THAT long to formulate my thoughts, so here they are: Beware a couple spoilers here and there, though I tried to hide all the ones I felt were important.

I hadn't quite expected to bullrush through Naked Edge this quickly; however, it seemed that once I got through a certain point in the storyline, there was no turning back. This pattern has been no different from the rest of the I-Team books I've already red. Granted, I probably should have been sleeping instead of reading, it's not like I ever listen to my "one more chapter, then sleep" mantra -- especially if that mantra lasts about twenty chapters. So there's no doubting that Naked Edge is a book that lives up to the awesomeness that follows suit with the I-Team series.

However, I'm floating on 4 stars for this fourth installment of the series for a lot of reasons that I can't entirely pinpoint. While the plot was a good one, the crime thrill intense, and the romance sizzling and emotional... all of it had this feeling of, well... falling slightly short. Maybe this is an unfair projection of my own expectations in a comparison with the previous three books. Maybe I wanted it to surpass the previous book too much because I really wanted to jump into Katherine James' turn as the strong, badass main female character. Or maybe... I'm too much still in love with Julian Darcangelo (with Marc Hunter coming up in a tight second) that the "rock jock" boy Gabriel Rossiter didn't even stand a chance unless he really stood out (and I mean really, really stood out).

But this wasn't entirely due to characters.

Kat was strong and steady, there's no doubt about that; but a little part of me couldn't help but notice that her dignified, conservative personality also made her a little bit of a pushover. I mean, sure she had what it took to survive in this world and could kick butt if she really wanted to... but the fact was that half the time her dignity made her walk away instead of getting that "in your face" kind of spunk that I think most journalists really have to rely on in order to get anywhere. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it just seemed to make Kat a bit too docile. And maybe that's just her charm and I'm not feeling it because I've overdosed myself with I-Team novels to the point where the feelings of awesome, expectation, and fear of disappointment (as well as a heavy dose of "staying up too late to read and thus very sleepy and blurry") are intermingled too closely together.

As for Gabe... I'm not sure what to make of him. He started out as the standard "dickhole" who was painted as having no interest in romance or love and who only thought with his nether region appendage. Which is fine, because I like the tradition "good girl melts the playing bad boy's heart" angle in a lot of other romances. Which is why I feel like Gabe doesn't stand out very well (from the previous two heroes, that is), and why the romance didn't really entice me as much -- it was a little too safe. When you find out that Gabe's got his own dark secret and learn the truth of it all... well... to be totally honest, I felt for him and I could see how what happened in his life could change him. I mean, come on, we were totally expecting a depressing past to explain away why he's such an uncaring manwhore, weren't we? I saw it coming the moment he started spouting all of his "no room for love in my life" crap. But while I could see the reasons and I could feel for him, it just didn't really "move" me. Don't get me wrong, Gabriel is a strong, respectful, and wonderful good man and makes for excellent hero material; he risked his life many times over to keep Kat safe and alive (then again, so did Julian and Marc for their respective leading ladies).

I guess that I'm just still too much in love with Julian, continuing to fall for Marc, and I'm starting to think that no one else will stand a chance against them, which... Oh my God, just made me wonder if I really have a thing for "dangerous, badass" men. Because Julian Darcangelo might have been one of the good guys all along, but he's got that "living on the edge" attitude that makes you excited, while hiding his great big softie tendencies from the rest of the world: he's the softy, sexy Teddy Bear in a Box. Marc Hunter did live on the edge, breaking multiple laws, and running as a fugitive for an entirety of a book, but also shelters that deep down respect for people and softness for his loved ones while trying to play off being a dangerous asshole: he's the handsome Goldenboy in Uniform. And those underlying traits of edginess in both of the men make them all the more enticing. Gabriel was just a standard good man with asshole tendencies, an underlying good heart, and a dark past; too many complications mixed together, but in the end, just your standard cliche of a broken hero and predictable.

But I'm getting off the point.

Like I said, it wasn't just the characters that didn't really appeal to me this time around (they were standard and they were safe). The story itself, while intense and meaningful to an extent, was a bit tame for what I'd been expecting of an I-Team thriller. It seemed too cut and polish for a murder/crime mystery/thriller, it was pretty predictable in terms of the main mystery key players and the main crime events, and it seemed that not as much investigation went on as much as information was just handed to our team players. Yeah, Kat did her end of digging and antagonizing the city, but the rest of the investigation seemed to have been done by either Julian or Marc so that Gabe and Kat (with their combined knowledge and expertise on the subject) could just piece everything together. If this wasn't the case, then I'm must have missed something in my ravaging hunger to finish the novel, but this is what the story felt like. Kat did her fair share of investigation, but a lot of times, she really was just waiting around for information to be released to her by the people who would rather see her broken body at the bottom of a ditch.

There were some parts of the story that struck me as a little slopping, especially towards the ending, which seemed to drag out a bit too much, significant as it might have seemed. On top of that that, also at the conclusion:

I DID appreciate the coyote's symbolism in Kat's dreams and spiritualist beliefs, because it lends an element to this particular I-Team book that the rest of the books didn't have. I also swooned lots at the continuous appearances of Julian and Marc as well as those moments of budding bromance between our men, including Gabe's addition to the loving banter of the boys.

Anyway, I won't say that this was a terrible story. The action and the intensity was still there; there was a nice emotional kick to it, and I DID like Katherine James just as well as I expected to like her. The romance was sweet and sizzling as per usual, and I spent my sleep time devouring the entire book up to the finish. So, as I stated, there's no doubt that I enjoyed it despite all of my misgivings mentioned above. It just wasn't the best I-Team novel to date and didn't have much of a break through feeling for me. The story itself wasn't as stimulating, and the romance was a little less unique.

Anyway, after finishing Naked Edge though, I have come to the realization that, as much as I want to jump into the next installation, I'm going to hold off for a while. Sometimes, no matter how good something is, a little too much could be detrimental. Also, I've about reached my monthly book spending budget (and it's only the beginning of the month), and I figure it might be a good idea to let that obsession I have with Julian Darcangelo and Marc Hunter fade a little before proceeding onto the next story -- you know, so that we can give the next hero more of a fighting chance to win my heart, if you know what I mean. My apologies to Gabe and the "rock jock" god's fans out there -- Gabriel Rossiter and the romance with Katherine James just didn't really do it for me.

This review was originally posted at Goodreads in May 2013.

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