Title: Hard Evidence
Author: Pamela Clare
Series: I-Team (Book #2)
Previous in series: Extreme Exposure
Next in series: Unlawful Contact
My rating: 5 Stars
Synopsis: After witnessing the murder of a teenage-girl, investigative reporter Tessa Novak believes Julian Darcangelo is responsible for the crime. However, Julian is, in fact, an undercover FBI agent on the trail of a human trafficker and vicious killer. Now, Tessa's reports have brought them closer both to each other and to an unimaginable evil that threatens both their lives.
Review: The first book in the series, Extreme Exposure, was good but nothing truly special. This book is a huge improvement. The plot is fast paced and suspenseful, the romance is intense and the characters are well-developed.
The human trafficking story is exceptional. Pamela Clare has definitely done her research and it shows in the details. The villain is diabolical and there are some truly frightening moments at the climax of the book that had me holding my breath. I did manage to guess the identity of the FBI mole but this sub-plot is cleverly done with appropriate red-herrings.
The characterization is excellent - Tessa's soft and vulnerable exterior belies her fierce intelligence and determination. She is completely fearless when it comes to her job and I appreciated her dedication even though she does some crazy things, like visiting gang bangers on their turf. It may seem stupid but makes sense in the life of an investigative journalist accustomed to taking risks for the story. Julian is the perfect combination - sexy, courageous and protective with a tad of tortured hero thrown in. Their chemistry is explosive and the development of their hate to love relationship is particularly captivating.
Overall, this is an incredible story with amazing characters. Hopefully the rest of the series will be just as good.