I have a confession to make. It’s true that Marc Hunter (Unlawful Contact) has been duking it out with Gabe Rossiter for my favorite I-Team series hero for some time now. But, in that tussle, Gabe almost always wins by a whisker (or a goatee actually). I could not wait for Gabe’s voice to come through my earbuds. Gabe has been a manwhore ever since his fiancée died three years earlier and he’s a dirty talker. He’s also wounded and alone even if he doesn’t acknowledge it. Be still my heart. He’s extremely well muscled and can do 128 pull ups in a row. He climbs, skis, rafts, sleds, and generally loves any extreme sport available and is gorgeous – exactly who I’d like to be rescuing me after a rock fall.
Kat James, a reporter for the I-Team, is a half Navajo (although she identifies as fully Navajo) who grew up on a reservation in Arizona. Since moving to Denver, she’s made friends with the local Native American community and regularly participates in their ceremonies. She’s a virgin (yes, that’s right, this is a virgin-and-a-manwhore book) but it works because her heritage and culture are not just things she thinks about occasionally – they are deeply ingrained and beloved. Her personal history and her culture mean that she won’t give it up for just anyone, even super hot Mountain Parks Ranger Gabe Rossiter. And even though Gabe is super hot, it is not that which makes the difference with Kat. These things would not have worked for me except for Kat’s cultural differences.
Through Kat’s value of herself, Gabe starts to see value in himself also and he finally heals from the wounds of three years before. But while this is happening, there is trouble at Mesa Butte; a beloved Native American elder has been murdered and Kat’s life is repeatedly threatened as she investigates the strange goings on. The suspense plot is seamlessly woven into the romance and intrinsically twined with Kat’s culture and heritage. In fact, the way the Native American culture is portrayed in the book is one of its (many) joys.
There is more romance in Naked Edge than the others in the series. The couple is together more (and lots of Gabe’s dirty talk and even sexy games!) and plenty of time for the listener to hear Kat and Gabe fall in love.
In terms of the narration, I loved the way Kaleo Griffith voiced Kat – her Navajo heritage clear but not overdone or caricatured. The other Native American characters were also well depicted. Gabe sounds much like Marc – there is only a subtle difference between the two when they are talking together – nowhere near as much difference as when Darcangelo speaks and they sound exactly the same when they yell (all the heroes do). It’s something I’ve noticed because I’ve listened to the books fairly close together. It’s not really a problem. Just an observation. In any event, hearing Gabe talking dirty to Kat is even better than reading it. Even though I was blushing quite a bit during the listen. And then I wondered, “Does Kaleo blush when he’s reading the love scenes?”
There were some vocal errors in the listen and it made me wonder if the production was a little rushed? For example, “poised coital” instead of “post coital.” It’s not a huge deal, but I did notice a few errors in this one – maybe six or seven – more than in the previous books.
I love the bromance between Julian and Marc and Gabe’s eventual inclusion in it (I feel a bit sorry for Reece – he’s kind of the odd one out here). Gabe had lost his friends when his fiancée died and it was nice to hear him regaining friendships, which were not based on his girlfriend’s friends. You can hear that the men would click with each other regardless.
Listening to Gabe and Marc (and Julian and Reece), well, Gabe still wins – possibly it’s the dirty talk!
Book Content: A-
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Violence: Fighting/Escalated Fighting
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Naked Edge was provided to AudioGals for review by Tantor Audio.