Richard “Rock” Babineaux a former SEAL and one of the founding members of the clandestine group of government defense warriors called Black Knights Inc., has unwittingly got himself into very deep weeds. Outside of his missions with the Black Knights, Rock used his skills as an interrogator to assist in a project he believed was operated by the good guys to ferret out evil crime lords. However, when he uncovers information indicating “the good guys” were actually not at all what they seemed he started poking a hornets nest to find out the truth. Framed as a rogue operator Rock has very big CIA guns looking for him as the evidence supporting he is a traitor to his country is irrefutable. Rock eludes the authorities, utilizes his formidable survival skills and sequesters himself deep in jungles of the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
Despite the damning evidence against Rock, the close family of BKI specialists refuse to believe the worst about one of their own and set out to find him. When Rock is finally tracked down the beautiful Latino communications specialist Vanessa Cordero along with a small support group of Knights head to Costa Rica to bring him home. Rock is not pleased to see her and has no intention of putting the people he considers family in mortal danger and tries to send Vanessa packing. Vanessa is determined to convince Rock to accept the team’s help and follows him back into the dense jungle. Rock has no choice but to protect her not only from the host of dangers inherent to the location, but also from a major influx of CIA commandos with a shoot to kill agenda.
This book is a total adrenaline rush. Walker’s vivid descriptions plunge us into the lush jungle environment where Rock helps Vanessa maneuver one peril after the other, then the commandos arrive and things REALLY get tense and exciting. The enticing Cajun is an intelligent, battle-honed warrior who is prepared for every contingency. He also helps Vanessa deal with a paralyzing fear that has been relentless and traumatic. Rock and Vanessa have been dancing around an intense sexual attraction for some time. However he has some heavy-duty baggage with accompanying commitment issues that despite the desire flowing between them won’t allow him to give his heart to her. Walker builds the sexual tension over the course of the novel leading to hot, emotional love scenes. However, even after they become intimate, Vanessa still must face that Rock is determined to leave her.
Along loving the action and intrigue offered in this story, I enjoyed the laugh-out-loud humor that included a serving of awesome snark. Rock’s New Orleans’s dialect and colloquialisms are hoot-worthy and used liberally during dialogue and introspection. I have a thing for Cajun heroes, and in Rock, Walker developed a winner.
Julie Ann Walker gives excellent background information regarding the Knights and I didn’t feel disadvantaged at all for not having read the earlier series books. I understood why and how Black Knights Inc. came to be, had a good picture of each of the operatives as well as their quirks and quarks, and how they interact as a cohesive loyal group. There are also plot twists and quite a surprise in store regarding the identity of the very manipulative antagonist whose agenda and secrets are so well hidden proving Rock’s innocence seems hopeless.
There was a secondary plot-line developed between team member Bill and socialite Eva Edens so it will be interesting to see where Walker takes the Knight’s next. I was sorry when Thrill Ride ended; I loved Julie Ann Walkers’ voice and am eager to read the earlier and future books in this series.