Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by the new site and take a look around.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hell on Wheels by Julie Ann Walker

Hell on Wheels by Julie Ann Walker
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (349 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Black Knights Inc.—Behind the facade of their tricked–out motorcycle shop is an elite special ops team assigned the jobs too hot for anyone else to handle.

Hold On Tight...

Ex–Marine Nate "Ghost" Weller is an expert at keeping his cool—and his distance—which makes him one hell of a sniper. It's also how he keeps his feelings for Ali Morgan in check. Sweet, sexy Ali has always revved his engine, but she's his best friend's baby sister...and totally off limits.

Rough Road Ahead

Ali's never seen anything sexier than Nate Weller straddling his custom Harley—or the flash of danger in his eyes when she tells him she's in trouble. First something happened to her brother, and now she's become the target of a nasty international organization. With Nate, her life is in the most capable hands possible—but her heart is another story altogether.

Edgy, raw emotions, graphic, often horrific, descriptions of man’s inhumanity to man, and the breathtaking, joyous love scenes celebrating life make Hell on Wheels throb with life. Carefully placed in among these extremes is the gentle, sweet humor of a kindergarten teacher and the caustic humor of the black ops people that gives the story a touch of normalcy when evil threatens chaos. Woven together all of these things make bold and subtle designs in a tapestry that reveals much about each of the intriguing characters. Also in the design, the dark thread of death is ever present.

Even though off-putting at times, the cryptic, often crude language seems to be a coping devise that many of the characters use to get past the incredible horrors they have dealt with and will continue to deal with to help make the world a little safer.

Time and again the petite kindergarten teacher, Ali Morgan, wonders whose life she's living as she's mugged, bugged, and tailed. It’s certainly not her own quiet life. In desperation she runs from North Carolina to Chicago to seek the help of her dead brother’s partner when the police do nothing to help her. She stays the mild, gentle little person everyone sees until push-comes-to-shove then the black ops people see her cupcake fa├žade covers a tough-as-nails determination and abilities to fight that her brother Grigg had taught her as she grew up. She’s no pushover. However, she has few defenses when it comes to Nate Weller. Her heart just won’t give up on him even though his surliness toward her is like a ‘no trespassing’ sign.

Nathan “The Ghost” Weller had been Grigg’s partner in clandestine missions for years and he’d been in love with Ali since the first time he saw her when she was still in high school. But she was and is totally off-limits to him. The tough, battle-scarred Nate now carries so much guilt about Grigg’s being dead and his being alive he feels he must stay away from her. It’s not easy when she shows up with a hair-raising story that has all the markings of being tied to Grigg’s activities before he died. Nate’s surly attitude, he uses as a defense against her, weakens as they work to unravel the mysterious happenings that sent her running to him for help. Her sunny, happy nature brings light to his dark world.

The secondary characters ratchet up the action as they each do their job to unravel the mystery. Ozzie, the computer geek with an off-beat sense of humor, makes life interesting for all besides being a mighty force in getting the information needed and getting it with breakneck speed. Of course, he's not above thoroughly enjoying checking Ali’s luggage for bugs, especially her interesting lingerie—which WAS bugged.

The intrepid Rebecca “Rebel” Reichert with her many talents and her unrequited love for the ‘older’ Frank Knight “The Boss” creates some high tension. She also reaches out and touches the reader’s heart when she feels crushed by Frank Knight’s hard-nosed response to her special hopes and dreams (hope there’s a story about these two forthcoming)

The antagonist and his henchmen create suspense that revs up the adrenaline to a fever pitch. The power-hungry senator seems to have no redeeming qualities. His self-centeredness and craving for power is incredible. How he finally gets his comeuppance is SO satisfying.

Julie Ann Walker’s writing style hooks the reader’s attention from word one and never lets it go. The incredible descriptions of emotions, places, actions, and people put the reader right with the characters so that every one of the senses is on alert. The humor sparkles--even the dark humor sparkles like a black diamond that has many facets and secrets. Moreover, the love scenes are breathtaking, earth-shattering and, yes, exquisite-like coming home. Yet, while she mesmerizes with an entertaining story, she creates compelling situations that seem like current events one might read about in the daily paper. The undercurrent of the never-ending struggle to keep intact the freedom we all enjoy and so often take for granted makes Hell on Wheels a fantastic novel.