I don’t think I’ve ever read a Cassie Edwards-style Native American romance, so I can’t speak to its portrayal of native communities in the Western United States. Naked Edge, however, takes a contemporary look into Colorado’s native community, one that I can easily classify as among the best portrayals of a minority culture I’ve read in a contemporary romance.
Kat James is a Navajo living in Colorado, part of an investigative journalism team that is the subject of Pamela Clare’s I-Team series. When the local police raid a religious ceremony, she encounters Gabe Rossiter, a park ranger and “rock jock” mountain climber who had previously saved her from a rockslide. Something didn’t seem right about the raid, and Kat gets even more suspicious when a beloved leader in her community is found dead at the base of the cliff that the group considers sacred ground. His death is ruled an accident, but Kat keeps poking around—and then starts getting death threats.
Gabe, meanwhile, is a bit of a man-slut, but he’s drawn to Kat even as he knows she won’t have sex with him. He doesn’t believe in HEAs after the death of his fiancé three years prior, but actions speak louder than words as he risks his job and life to protect Kat.
I really enjoyed the descriptions of Kat’s life in the Native American community. It felt like much more than the surface customs and traditions, but delved under the surface into the why of their traditions. Had she been practicing Christianity, it could have been considered Inspirational romance. Instead, it touches on her spiritual connection to the Earth and nature around her and her Navajo traditions.
Gabe’s issues are nothing new in Romancelandia, but they’re well handled and realistic. One thing I liked about the book was the clear difference in tone between Kat and Gabe’s point-of-view in the narration. People are well characterized when you can tell whose perspective is being told just by how it’s written, word choice, and syntax, and that was the case here. I got a bit annoyed with the paragraph breaks between POVs, but both Gabe and Kat had strong voices that carried through the narration.
Some of my writing pet peeves were present in this book (like repetition of dialogue that just happened two pages ago), but Gabe and Kat had a solid relationship, and one that felt completely real and natural. The book really drew me in, and I enjoyed the emotional journey the story took me on with the characters. I’m looking forward to reading the previous books in Pamela Clare’s I-Team series.