Thursday, March 7, 2013
SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "Thrill Ride" by Julie Ann Walker
Richard "Rock" Babineaux
There is a Burn and Delete notice on Rock Babineaux. He is labeled a rogue agent by the CIA and he is on the run. Vanessa Cordero is the Communications Specialist for the Black Knights, Inc (BKI) - a super secret, covert, black op's group working by order of the federal government but only known by a few select officials at the highest level. It is noted by the other members of BKI that Rock has a secondary job that is secretive and takes him away at a moments notice. Is Rock guilty of all that the CIA is accusing him of? Or is there something else going on? And why is he running from the only family he has - the BKI?
What a pleasant surprise! Thrill Ride is book 4 in the Black Knights Inc. series by Julie Ann Walker. I read Hell On Wheels and Rev It Up, both of which I found average at best and painfully awkward at the worst. I choose to read this book because either I'm a glutton for punishment or I feel compelled to finish series. I'm really happy to say that this book is a vast improvement from my previous reads.
The story is coherent and tightly written. The characters are highly likable and have depth. The obstacles confronting the protagonists feel real. The biggest improvement is the writing. Whereas in the past, the inner dialogue felt contrived and crass, this feels more in line with the personalities of the characters (I love the phrase "madder than a wet hen in a tote sack." - highly visual and completely appropriate for the story). Maybe these lines work because the characters are so much more interesting - Rock Babineaux is a Cajun with a tendency towards the heroic (even if he keeps denying it). Vanessa Cordero is spunky and stubborn. There is great chemistry between the two and there interactions are sizzling.
My one gripe about this book is some of the off-handed anti-feminist remarks that aren't useful and don't really enhance the story. For example: "just give me some bubble bath and a tampon. I think I'm officially part of the estrogen family" and "screw the feminist movement, because right now she was glad she was a woman and he was a man...." I somehow don't think the feminist movement was advocating a denial of womanhood - this type of comment shows a lack of understanding of the issues and perpetuates a stereotype unnecessarily.
I noticed that Ms. Walker gives thanks the Catherine Mann in her Acknowledgements. Catherine Mann is one of my favorite authors. Based on the improvements I've noted, Ms. Mann's has clearly impacted the quality of this book. Her influence shows.
IN A NUTSHELL: If this is the direction of the BKI books, I'll be first in line to buy the next in the series. Very nice job, Ms. Walker.