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Book CoverStevie‘s review of Wild Ride (Black Knights Inc, Book 9) by Julie Ann Walker
Romantic Suspense published by Sourcebooks Casablanca 04 Apr 17

I’ve enjoyed Julie Ann Walker’s Black Knights series since diving in partway through, and I must admit to having been somewhat intrigued by Ozzie Sykes, who’s mostly stayed in the background of previous stories, but now finally gets his own book. Like the other members of the team, Ozzie has a military past, a covert ops present, and a love of powerful motor bikes. He’s also a massive geek, which endears him to me as well as, seemingly, to a large number of other readers. Still recovering physically from injuries sustained in a bomb attack, and mentally from witnessing the death of his colleague – and one-time hook-up – in the same blast, Ozzie has, against his better judgement, befriended a journalist who has been investigating the Black Knights for years: an attractive female journalist, who also seems more than a little attracted to Ozzie.

Samantha Tate is convinced that the Black Knights are up to something seriously illegal and has made it her mission to expose them for what they really are – along with fighting corruption in high places elsewhere in the city. A proper old-fashioned investigative journalist, she has been mentored by, and is now the best friend of, the reporter who had previously helped her father fight injustices and then fought himself to uncover the man who arranged for Samantha’s father to be killed in retaliation. The pair work together on the same paper, and neither has ever given up hope of solving the final clues in that murder – or of preventing further deaths wherever they can.

Samantha receives a tip-off that seems to point to the Black Knights as being behind the ex-military guns that are being used in gang killings and reluctantly puts aside her feelings for Ozzie in favour of seeing the culprits convicted. While Ozzie is unaware of Samantha’s suspicions, he soon becomes aware that she is a target for some real bad-guy bikers, and steps in to rescue her – another move that Samantha at first misinterprets. Eventually, however, Samantha semi-reluctantly agrees to spend time at the Black Knights’ base: somewhere she’s always wanted to see inside, though not necessarily under these exact circumstances.

While most of the Black Knights are away ‘on business,’ Samantha makes friends with various of the guys’ wives and girlfriends and their families, and starts to see that the set-up isn’t at all what she’d been imagining. Obviously, she and Ozzie also get lots of alone – and fun—time together too, even as the real bad guys are closing in on Samantha and her best friend.

This was an excellent story, although parts of the romance plot felt a little overblown at times, and the team is so big now that it’s difficult keeping track of the long-term members, much less the very newest ones who are yet to be properly introduced to us readers. I can see a fair bit more mileage in the series as a whole, though, and am looking forward to the next instalment with bated breath.

Stevies CatGrade: B


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…

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