Book Review

The Naked Edge by Pamela Clare


Title: The Naked Edge
Author: Pamela Clare
Publication Info: Berkley March 2010
ISBN: 9780425219768
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Book CoverWhen I first finished this book, I didn’t think I’d liked it. Well, that’s not exactly correct: I knew I’d adored the heroine, and I was terribly moved and desperately scared by the ending, but the hero took some time to mellow in my brain to the point where I felt I fully understood and appreciated him. I think the biggest obstacle to this book for many will be the degree of redemption that the hero requires, and the depth of selfishness from which he has to redeem himself.

Gabe Rossiter is a park ranger, with enormous understanding and respect for the land he patrols, but an absolute lack of respect and understanding of himself and most women. He’s intelligent, dedicated, and you see glimpses of noble behavior but early in the book, the reader gets a very frank examination of his character.

He’s a slut. A big old man whore like a rake in historical romance, only without the charm and heavily-layered sympathy. It takes awhile to unearth why Gabe is the way he is, and even then, the issues behind his behavior may not be enough for some readers to accept him as a hero.

But his struggle with behavior and morality are balanced on a huge swinging pendulum – you see him act so honorably one moment, like when he comes to the heroine’s rescue after another police officer way oversteps his boundaries, and then you see him act like a callous, heartless self-absorbed dickbag and wonder how it can be the same person.

Because of the callous heartless self-absorbed dickbag behavior, my biggest fear was that he would not ever be worthy of the heroine. She is amazing. She is struggling to find herself and discover her identity while being so heavily informed by her gender, her heritage, her profession, and her personal history.

Katherine “Kat” James is a Native American, and it’s not just dark hair, dark skin and a tendency to speak of the Great Spirit. Her cultural identity moves through her at every moment, and her beliefs and her values form a core of strength that sets her apart – she’s admirable, strong, intelligent and a talented investigative reporter for a Denver newspaper, but that core also isolates her.

Gabe is terribly attracted to Kat, and she’s very blunt that she’s not interested in casual premarital sex, and that she knows he is likely after exactly and only that. He dismisses her, tries to put her down, and she won’t give him the satisfaction of knowing he hurt her. Once an investigation into the desecration of Native American lands leads to a murder, Kat and Gabe find themselves teamed up to try to solve the mystery while avoiding being the next target of the killer. Their close proximity means trouble. Gabe slowly learns to value Kat. Kat struggles with her tempting attraction to Gabe. Their relationship and slowly developing appreciation for one another rests on a very deep similarity of understanding and an absolutely opposite collection of values.

The major reason I had such a hard time grading this book is best summed up in two words: “Sweet muff.” Gabe is very blunt in his descriptions of how much he desires Kat, and at times his comments to her are so brusque and crude I’m amazed she didn’t run out the door screaming. It was like watching a porn star recite dialogue from “Down in the Rumpus Room” with an actress reciting “As You Like It.” It made no sense to me initially: Kat is a class act, and Gabe is so crude. I honestly worried that he’d never be worthy of her. Nearly 2/3 of the way through I wasn’t sure I’d ever warm up to him. I wanted to beat him senseless at times and wasn’t sure why Kat didn’t beat him down herself.

If you pick up this book and you wonder whether it’s worth it to read to the end – keep going. The villain is unexpected, the slow and scorching hot attraction between Kat and Gabe is never easily resolved, and the role of Native American culture and ritual is moving to the point that I took deep breaths and sighed as I read. The ending is chilling and powerful.The amazing final scenes stick with me even today – they’re haunting and scary and powerful and brought tears to my eyes. The finale reflects the beginning and underscores the feeling that without each other, Kat and Gabe would be hanging by a very thin support, alone and without the impetus to take the risk to climb higher. Because of each other, they do more than anyone, including themselves, expects, and achieve more personal growth and joy than they could have predicted. Both characters grow in measurable amounts, and their happy ending is beautiful, and so incredibly satisfying.

Naked Edge is available at Amazon, IndieBound, Book Depository, and Powell’s.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    tanita says:

    Okay, wow. That’s a helluva review. The whole “muff” thing would indeed… make me …run shrieking. And yet. You really make me want to read this!!!

  2. 2

    Muffs and dickbags and man-whores, oh my!

    Sounds intriguing, largely because I want to see how the author managed to change Sarah’s clearly very strong initial opinions about the hero. I’ll definitely grab it if it shows up on the front-and-center, shame-free New Romance Paperback table at my library.

  3. 3
    CaroleM says:

    Last night after finishing up a disappointing book by another author I love,I just happened to reach over and grab Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare -it’s been sitting there in my stack of books forever.  WOW. I love this author.  I can’t believe it’s been sitting there all this time (probably a year) and Ihad no idea it would be so great.

    I should also mention I normally don’t like book reviews, but yours on The Naked Edge is pretty convincing so I’m off to buy the book.

  4. 4
    SB Sarah says:

    Clare is one hell of a writer. The setting, the characters, the cultural influences of both protagonists – all superb. I’m so curious what you’ll think, CaroleM – I hope you let us know.

  5. 5
    Dana S says:

    The hero does sound intriguing, though, despite his unusual word choices. I’m almost tempted to pick this one up, but I don’t know when I’d have time to read it!

    Thanks for the review!

  6. 6
    quichepup says:

    You had me hooked when you said the heroine was a Native woman. Not enough in romances in my opinion so I gotta see. “Sweet muff” and all.

  7. 7

    Very intriguing review.  Now I’m interested in checking this one out despite the perceived flaws.  Your reviews, like DA’s, always offer a deeper analysis of what’s working or not working for you, and as a reader I appreciate that.

  8. 8
    SB Sarah says:

    Thank you! Reviews are always the hardest things for me to write, because I want to make sure the grade is explained and the reasoning is supported, etc etc etc.

    I also have to give props to books that really run to the edge of the cliff in terms of taking risks with characters or plot, and this definitely steps outside the expected boundaries of hero behavior at times – but I think the payoff totally worked. I’ll be interested to hear what you think.

  9. 9
    Melissa says:

    I am anxiously awaiting my copy of Naked Edge, sweet muffs and all.

    Pamela is an amazing writer, her other contemporary books have scared me too because she writes so realistically and includes issues that do occur like trafficing of women.

    I love her historicals, especially Surrender and Ride the Fire. I just finished rereading Surrender last night, the beautiful ending never fails to bring me to tears.

  10. 10
    KristieJ says:

    I’ve been an avid reader and fan of her books ever since her first book first came out.  Whether Colonial American or Romantic Suspense, her writing is riveting.  And while I almost doze through many a sex scene, she manages to write some really great ones.  This one isn’t out here yet – but hopefully soon – very, very soon as I’ve been looking forward to it for months now!

  11. 11
    jo bourne says:

    Ok.  Ok.  You’ve convinced me.  This one I’ll have to get ahold of.

  12. 12
    Kristina says:

    Sweet Muffs Batman, this book sounds intriguing!!  I always enjoy reading a book with a great asshat being redeemed.  Even jerks need love I guess.

  13. 13
    Ronlyn says:

    I’ve read the book and I found myself nodding along with your review.  I found Gabe to be quite elusive for a long time.

  14. 14
    Hope says:

    Hello guys, I am trying to locate a book and this seam like a great place to start.

    It’s about an English Girl named Kitty I think, trying to run away from her uncle who was trying to marry her off for his benefit. While dressed as a young lad she goes in a pirate ship by mistake and gets taken to sea. When the crew tried to rape her, the Captain (don’t remember his name) comes to her aide only to fall in love with her later. He started with seducing her and then she became his woman. They lived in an Island together… (I don’t remember how it ended If anyone could help me with a title I would really appreciate it.

  15. 15
    Beki says:

    What a fantastic review.  I love the truly horrible hero and this one sounds almost laughably awful.  And only to get better by the end?  And so narrowly so that you weren’t entirely convinced at first?  Sign me up. 

    You guys just gave me a new author to pick up.  I love when that happens!

  16. 16

    What a lovely review!  Can’t wait to read this.  The word “muff” doesn’t scare me, LOL.

  17. 17
    Michelle W says:

    Being locate in Stockholm, it takes a while longer for the book to reach me. One of my favorite things about Pamela’s writing is her honesty, her willingness to take on risky projects (and complete them successfully and satisfyingly for her readers) and the authenticity of her stories, whether it is the historicals or the contemporaries.

    I use to only read historicals because they seemed more “romantic” to me. But Pamela’s contemporaries showed me that the charm of contemporaries is in the way they give the author certain freedoms to say/do things you can’t in a historical (dare I say “sweet muff”) and also the way I can recognize myself in certain aspects of the characters.

  18. 18
    orangehands says:

    In case you were wondering, this line hooked me:

    He’s a slut. A big old man whore like a rake in historical romance, only without the charm and heavily-layered sympathy.

    I hate the stories where the heroes seem to sleep with everything that moves (provided it is female and pretty, of course) and we – the heroine and reader- are supposed to consider that a charming quirk or something to tame or whatever. I like that the story is set up so that this is not a good trait.  (This may not translate to me liking him – my tolerance for asshole heroes gets lower every year – but I’ll definitely give this a try.)

    Plus, realistic Native American heroine and real issues in her other books and apparently a great writing style? So there.

  19. 19
    Brigid says:

    I had to buy this book after reading this review. I actually liked Gabe. I was worried I’d hate him after reading this, but I thought he redeemed himself. Yeah, he was a man-whore, but I only saw a few moments of true dickbaggery, and he did a great job of being a hero in spite of it. Thanks for the fantastic review! I found a new author, thanks to you guys!

  20. 20
    Nadia says:

    Just finished this book and really enjoyed it.  I didn’t think Gabe was that big a douche.  I mean, yeah, manwhore, but he knew he was damaged and did his best to not mislead the heroine.  And oh, the redemption, hell to the yes.

    One thing I very much enjoyed about Ms. Clare’s writing is that guys talked like I expected them to talk, even in an inner monologue.  Sometime authors can have their heroes just a little too in touch with their feminine sides.  I laughed every time Marc riffed on Julian’s last name, my inner 12-year-old loved it. 

    And here’s proof that I’m too invested in the modern political discussion:  at one point I was pulled out of the story during a major crisis point by the thought “Oh, no, I don’t think that character has health insurance anymore, that’s going to bankrupt him!” LOL!

  21. 21
    Scorpio M. says:

    I just finished Naked Edge and absolutely loved it. My first Clare book & probably the best romantic suspense book I’ve ever read.

    Kat & Gabe are a unique contemporary couple. Kat was strong, dignified yet still feminine. I did not at any point think Gabe was bad or needed redemption, even with his horn dog beginnings he is all hero in my book.

    I cannot recommend or rave about this book enough.

  22. 22
    Mp3 dinle says:

    @CaroleM i agree with you.

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