TBR Challenge Review, RomCom Redux

It’s fun to choose which TBR pile to take a book from for this challenge. I have my scary library used books pile, my “must-reads borrowed from someone” pile, my “gosh that looked interesting at the time” pile, and others. Gradually diminishing is the pile from RomCom last summer; I have read and enjoyed at least half of the books I brought home from that wonderful weekend. This is the latest, and it knocked my socks off.

I met Pamela Clare at RomCon; she’s a Denver-area author, and everyone said she was both a fine writer and a terrific person. I quickly learned that the latter was true; she was charming and gracious, even though she was suffering back pain, and I really enjoyed meeting her. She signed my copy of this book while we chatted, but it took me six months to read it. I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense, mostly because I’m a wimp. I’m really glad I read this one!

So what did I love about this book? So much. First, the heroine – Kat’s a journalist who specializes in environmental reporting, very cool. She’s Native American, very traditionally raised, so there are interesting cultural issues to explore. Clare handles that aspect about as well as I’ve ever seen it done, with tremendous respect for the culture and a really educational and empathetic look at its traditions and their place in modern society. There are enough non-Native characters in the story that the explanations can be worked in very naturally; the hero shows off what he knows to impress the heroine, but he also needs to learn more so that he can understand her. I never felt like I was getting an info-dump, but at the same time there was a lot of information, fascinating and completely relevant to the story.

I loved the connection between the two main characters — great chemistry, but also great respect for each other and for self. No doormats here! They got to work as partners on the investigation; watching the couple work together is a big plus for me in romance. I was really pulling for them to work things out, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The suspense plot is great, too. It’s not too convoluted, but also not transparent. The motives of the bad guys are straightforward and make sense; they are clearly in the wrong, but they aren’t sick twisted psychos. The violence stayed beneath my intolerance threshold, which isn’t very high, but I’m not sure I could have taken it without the certainty that this was a ROMANCE. I immediately recommended this book to my sister, who reads a lot of romantic suspense. WIN!

The only downside, if you can call it that, is that reading this book did not shrink my TBR pile. Instead, I added the rest of the books in the series!

EDITED TO ADD: I’m so happy for Pamela that this book won the AAR Readers’ Poll Award for Best Romantic Suspense. You can see the full list of winners in all the categories, and some responses from the winning authors, here.


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Wendy
    Feb 16, 2011 @ 08:09:35

    I’ve had this one sitting in my TBR, but I’ve been gunshy about picking it up because I had a REALLY bad reading experience with a previous book in this series. But I’ve met Clare in person (and she’s REALLY nice), plus I’ve enjoyed the one historical of hers that I’ve read…..so I’m determined to give her rom/sus stuff another shot.

    Plus she’s REALLY nice. Sigh.


  2. Phyl
    Feb 16, 2011 @ 08:16:56

    She IS really nice. The only book I haven’t read in this series is the very first one. It’s in my TBR. Looks like it could be a candidate for the September or October challenge. Anyhow, like you, I loved this book.


  3. Amber
    Feb 16, 2011 @ 10:18:38

    I don’t think I’ve read Clare before, but I am a big romantic suspense fan (since I love mysteries, too). I’ll have to see if I have any of her books lurking in the pit that is my office.

    I wish my TBR was as organized as yours seems to be. *sigh*


    • ms bookjunkie
      Mar 20, 2011 @ 02:56:05

      If you have a Mac, you could consider getting Delicious Library to keep track of your books. http://www.delicious-monster.com/

      Or you could sign up for Goodreads to do the same. It’s free, and you don’t have to do the social media part of it if you don’t want to. (I don’t really use it for actual reviewing, just my “OMG squee” or a note to self why I didn’t love the book. And I have yet to receive any author spam…maybe because my “friend question” makes them back off…or because I’m such a tiny fish that no one pays attention to me *g*)


      • sonomalass
        Mar 21, 2011 @ 19:44:48

        I do have a Mac, and an iPad. I use Calibre for my ebooks, but I just don’t have the energy to keep track of my print books. (I can’t even keep a decent wine inventory, and I have a LOT more books than wine.) I use Goodreads for wider posting of reviews and to keep track of most of the recent books that I’ve read, and I have an Excel spreadsheet to keep track month by month, for posting here. I’m getting better, but I just keep buying books!

  4. sonomalass
    Feb 16, 2011 @ 11:33:46

    Wendy, was it the third one, Unlawful Contact? That is definitely in my discomfort zone; I haven’t decided yet if my “read the whole series” obsession outweighs that or not.

    Phyl, you’ve read that one. What did you think?

    Amber, thanks for being fooled into thinking I’m any kind of organized! I have different piles only because the shelves are full and books are dumped in three different rooms of my house, still grouped with the others they came in with. I read some mysteries, but I have a low tolerance for violence, especially against women and children, especially sexual. So mystery and suspense reads have to alternate with less stressful books.


  5. Wendy
    Feb 16, 2011 @ 11:40:44

    Nope, the second book – Hard Evidence. I know scads of readers who lurved it – but I thought the heroine was so epically TSTL that after a while I wondered if she had sustained multiple head injuries as a child.


  6. Kim in Hawaii
    Feb 16, 2011 @ 11:47:56

    Aloha, SonomaLass! Like you, I met Pamela at RomCon. In fact, I met her on Thursday night when Anna Campbell and I bumped into Pamela and two of her fans. Lucy (a bookseller from Australia) also joined us. It was an honor to get to know Pamela the person (in person). I have since enjoyed reading her books. But we truly connected in early December when she shared that her great uncle had died aboard the USS Utah on December 7, 1941. The USS Utah remains overturned on the other side of Ford Island, away from the tourist attractions – the USS Missouri and the Pacific Aviation Museum. In fact, it is called the Forgotten Memorial. After Pamela shared the story of her unlce – killed one week after his wedding – I visited the USS Utah and placed a lei on the concrete deck overlooking it in honor of Pamela.

    Having met Pamela and learning about her passion for justice as a investigative journalist has only enhanced my reading pleasure from her books. Looking forward to reading Breaking Point (with a hot cover).


  7. Jessica
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 15:36:45

    I loved this book. So glad you did too!

    Re: Unlawful Contact — I am not sure if it was the prior one in the series, bu I remember really liking that one too, so Wendy has to say what the issue was!


  8. ms bookjunkie
    Mar 20, 2011 @ 02:44:12

    I read a review of NAKED EDGE on Dear Author and immediately ordered it. I devoured it as soon as it arrived, and was totally blown away by it. OMG love love love! I went on to to buy the rest of I-Team series…and I have to say it’s awesome to find a series where each book is great, but where the series gets better and better as it progresses.

    And you know that back pain Pamela was suffering? She uses her own almost-fatal tumble down a hill in NAKED EDGE when Kat and Gabe first meet.

    Also, as someone who had the pleasure of emailing back and forth with her, I have to agree with the part about Pamela being really nice.


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