I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about Pamela Clare. On the one hand, there’s something about her stories that just grab me. They’re either fast-paced and exciting or romantic in just the right away. On the other hand. there’s always something that doesn’t feel quite right or takes me out of the story. So, I just keep reading them. My latest Pamela Clare novel, Striking Distance (2013), I got sucked into after reading a preview of the first chapter. I was surprised by the intensity and the realism, and I had high hopes for the rest of the novel.
Laura Nillsson is as television reporter stationed in Baghdad during the Iraq War and Javier Corbray is a Navy Seal. The two had stumbled across each other in a hotel in Dubai. Unable to resist their mutual hotness, the two share a passionate weekend in Dubai–promising each other that no strings are attached. Before they can ignore their promises, Laura is kidnapped from where she is reporting in Islamabad and reportedly killed. Eighteen months later, we actually begin our novel with Javier Corbray and his seal team on a mission to take the terrorist Al-Nassar into custody along with any intel they can find. Unbeknownst to the team, Laura is still alive and has been taken as Al-Nassar’s wife for the past eighteen months.
Now, normally this premise would turn me off. I like adventure and excitement, but I’m not a fan of rape and torture in my romance. Yet it didn’t bother me in this book, and I think it’s how Pamela Clare approached her story. That prologue felt very real and not sensationalized. Laura didn’t fall in love with her rescuer, a stranger, in some creepy way when she should have been dealing with her trauma. Instead, she barely knew who she was, and she barely had the courage to speak up and get out of there. She didn’t recognize Javier at all. He was covered in paint and gear, and he couldn’t tell her who he was because of operational security. They were quickly separated when they got back to the base and Laura went home to Sweden for some intense therapy.
When they run into each other again, it is in Denver, Colorado. (Again, it is so weird to read a romance novel that takes place in my hometown. Clare mentions spots that I’m very familiar with. However, it was distracting when she had some injured people go to University Hospital when there is no doubt they would have taken them to Denver Health). Laura has become an investigative reporter for a Denver newspaper, no longer wanting to be on television. Javier is in Denver, on leave from the Seals as he denies he has problems with PTSD, and visiting an old Seal friend. By random coincidence Javier’s Seal friend’s wife works with Laura and they see each other again at a BBQ up in the mountains.
It’s fortunate that the two run into each other because Laura’s life is almost immediately threatened, and it’s nice to have Javier around. A car bomb explodes under her work building, she is shot at while exiting a television studio, and there is contradictory and unexplained evidence about who is after her. ***SPOILER*** To top it all off, Laura had a baby while she was in captivity, one that was taken from her directly after birth, but one that was left behind when she was rescued. Laura is determined to get her daughter out of the hands of Al-Nassar’s family.
After reading the first chapter, I had high hopes going into this book. I was on the edge of my seat, wanting Laura to get away from her captors. Unfortunately, although it was good, the rest of the book didn’t quite live up to that first chapter. One of the things that drove me crazy was not the fault of the book. For some reason, my library did not have this book in print or Kindle versions, and I had to read it on my computer with some program I’ve never used before. Three times throughout the book, the e-reader just skipped pages. It was incredibly frustrating, and caused me to miss some important parts–including the last couple of pages. As far as the book goes, I did like it, and I appreciated the way that Laura and Javier’s relationship developed. However, it seemed like there was a little too much going on: Laura is getting over the trauma of eighteen months of kidnapping, she has to testify at Al-Nassar’s trial, Al-Nassar has called for his followers to kill her, someone istrying to kill her, her old security company is blaming her kidnapping on her, Laura is trying to find her baby in Pakistan, and somehow Laura and Javier are starting to love each other. I’m glad I read it, and I wish I’d had a better e-version of the book, but it was a lot to take in.
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