I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Black Knights Inc. #9
Published by Sourcebooks on April 4th 2017
Genres: Action & Adventure, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Suspense
Purchase Links: Amazon| Barnes & Noble| Kobo| IndieBound| Google Play
ADD TO GOODREADS:
The hero we've all been waiting for ...
Ethan "Ozzie" Sykes
Former Navy SEAL
Underground operator for Black Knights Inc., the covert government defense firm disguised as a custom motorcycle shop.
In a black-on-black international mission that went seriously sideways, Ozzie was badly injured—now he's stuck at BKI headquarters in Chicago, champing at the bit to get out into the field again. To his disgust, he's tasked with distracting Chicago Tribune ace reporter Samantha Tate, who's been trying to dig up the dirt on BKI for years. Turns out Samantha's beauty, intelligence and sense of humor are a seriously big distraction, and Ozzie's losing his desire to keep her at bay.
Ozzie's tired of hiding, and Samantha may be the best-and-worst—person to share his secrets with...
There’s a blurb on the cover of Wild Ride by Julie Ann Walker that says: “He’s the one you’ve been waiting for…” Well, that is about the most honest advertising I’ve ever come across. Not only is Ethan “Ozzie” Sykes’ story one that ardent fans of the Black Knight Inc. series have been longing for, Ozzie himself is the type of hero every reader craves. Even new to genre readers, or those experiencing the Black Knights for the first time, will appreciate the unique character of Ozzie Sykes.
Eight books ago I would have said Ozzie’s ego was inflated enough and would have tempered my praise. (Yes, I said 8 books!) Once I was approved for the Advanced Reader Copy of Wild Ride, I decided to check out the e-book of the first in the Black Knight Inc. series, Hell on Wheels, from my local library. Within 15 minutes of finishing, I was downloading the rest of the series. Ozzie appears as a secondary character in the proceeding novels, where his humor and role as ’80’s pop-culture savant bring much-appreciated levity to the sometimes dark world of covert government ops. Reading each of these earlier works gave me a deep appreciation for journey Ozzie takes and the issues he has simmering behind his bright smile and wicked good looks.
However, reading the entire series isn’t necessary, since what author Julie Ann Walker does so brilliantly, is allow Ozzie’s evolution be readily evident, even if this is a reader’s first introduction to the world of the Black Knights. The character roster for this book is trimmed, with most of the team is on a mission, leaving a recuperating Ozzie and fellow operative Christian Watson behind. (A brief shout out to Christian and the BKI office manager Emily Scott, whose sexual tension filled snark-fest promises lots of fun in the future in Hot Pursuit, coming this Fall.) By concentrating on a smaller cast, each character’s interaction with, and observations of, Ozzie — and his changing relationship with Samantha — helps to bring readers closer to the surprisingly sensitive hero.
A former Navy SEAL and computer genius (all-around genius, really), Ozzie is used to being able to take on any task required by the Black Knights, both in the field and at their undercover custom motorcycle shop. In between ops, Ozzie has no problem attracting the ladies to his bed. What none of these women understands is how much Ozzie longs for a deeper commitment. A nearly fatal injury on a mission now has Ozzie questioning his value and his future. Ozzie is the perfect mix of alpha-hero with a beta-hero soul: an actual human labrador puppy — who could rip off your limb if he wanted to.
The last thing a covert government operative needs is to be best friends with a nosy reporter, right? Under the guise of keeping Samantha off their tail, Ozzie agrees to distract Samantha by offering her a tour of the BKI motorcycle workshop. A tour becomes getting together for drinks, which turns into concerts in the park, then afternoons on the lake, etc., etc. As a genuine friendship (and deep attraction) develops between Samantha and Ozzie, keeping his secrets becomes more difficult, mainly because he yearns to unburden himself to Samantha and offer her complete honesty. Ozzie wants to be open with Samantha, he needs to be all in. Circumstances force the couple into close proximity and friendship gives way to some seriously steamy encounters.
Danger follows Samantha as one of her investigations digs too deep into some very unsavory characters. Author Jullie Ann Walker writes very exciting and suspenseful action sequences. Her bad guys are all-cap BAD GUYS. I had complete faith in Ozzie and his crew, but the author still had me on the edge of my seat!
Samantha Tate is a delight – most of the time. There was a serious misunderstanding at one point that I thought it was resolved a bit too quickly (maybe I’m just super-protective of Ozzie). Her intelligence and wit are a perfect match for Ozzie. While she constantly exhibits spark and determination, Samantha also allows herself to be vulnerable with Ozzie, and most importantly, allows him to be vulnerable with her.
Wild Ride manages to be both thrilling and touching at the same time, with author Julie Ann Walker striking the perfect balance of suspense, sexiness, and honest emotion. Wild Ride certainly lives up to its name —and was definitely worth waiting for!