I really enjoy Pamela Clare’s romantic suspense books, especially Hard Justice, which I loved. Give me (alpha) men and women saving the world any day, particularly when the books are so sweet & so steamy. But Hard Line, her latest release, falls flat for me.
The premise is that relatively new Cobra recruit Thor Isaksen is sent to Antarctica to retrieve parts of a satellite that was hacked & destroyed by an as-yet unknown entity.
The researcher asked to help him & his team is astrophysicist Dr. Samantha Park, who’s still reeling from the death of her best friend & fellow researcher.
But of course nothing is what it seems with her friend’s murder & Thor & his team have to solve the mysteries before lots of innocent people are hurt.
As always, it feels like Clare’s done the research & the plot moves quickly & with skill. The Antarctica setting added a lot to the mystery, providing many possible new challenges for the MCs to overcome. I always appreciate the steam Clare brings & enjoyed the dynamic between the sensitive alpha Thor & the brilliant but insecure Samantha.
But I have two big issues with this read. First, Samantha’s lack of confidence, which is pervasive & includes her appearance & even how she talks about her astronomy work with Thor. I didn’t see much evidence of growth in this until the end of the book & even then, as she notes in one instance, it seems largely more attributable to how Thor has made her feel instead of her own conclusions about herself.
& speaking about Thor, his efforts to show Samantha how sexy she was by using his arousal as “proof” kinda make me roll my eyes.
My other issue with this romance is how the lines are so blurred between Thor’s professional demands & his relationship with Samantha with very little introspection or deliberation about how he is blurring them. His actions & his teammate Jones’ actions make me doubt their qualifications as operatives—maybe because so much of those scenes feels surface-level to me.
I look forward to reading a future Pamela Clare book but this one just didn’t really work for me.
CW: pretty gruesome story about Thor’s wartime experience including murder. Other on-page murders.
MEGAN GOLDIN worked as a correspondent for Reuters and other media outlets where she covered war, peace, international terrorism and financial meltdowns in the Middle East and Asia. She is now based in Melbourne, Australia where she raises three sons and is a foster mum to Labrador puppies learning to be guide dogs. The Escape Room was her debut novel.
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