He's Gone Rogue
Ex-Navy SEAL Rock Babineaux’s job is to get information, and he’s one of the best in the business. Until something goes horribly wrong and he’s being hunted by his own government. Even his best friends at the covert special-ops organization Black Knights Inc. aren’t sure they can trust him. He thinks he can outrun them all, but his former partner—a curvy bombshell who knows just how to drive him wild—refuses to cut him loose.
She Won't Back Down
Vanessa Cordova hasn’t been the team’s communication specialist very long, but she knows how to read people—no way is Rock guilty of murder. And she’ll go to hell and back to help him prove it. Sure, the sexy Cajun has his secrets, but there’s no one in the world she’d rather have by her side in a tight spot. Which is good, because they’re about to get very tight …
Why I read this book: I’ve read the previous books in the series and was happy to receive a complimentary ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of this title courtesy of Sourcebooks via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The fun surprise was the exotic setting of the Costa Rican jungle. It gave the book a unique feel and allowed for some original action sequences. (And maybe there’s some Jane in me, cuz I fell in love with the tree house that features in a few scenes.) Walker brought the ambiance to life really well.
Emotional tension ran high, and one sequence in particular (no spoilers, I’ll just say it’s when the ensemble from all the previous books work together, involving a chase and resulting in misdirection), was excellently written. I was very invested in that section of the book.
The overall plot and action held my interest, and a quite liked having a Cajun hero, but ...
What drove me nuts was the constant internal reflections that were unrealistic for the circumstances. I get that there’s redonculous chemistry between Rock and Vanessa, but frequent fantasizing while in death-threatening situations is something that really puts me off in romantic suspense. Quickest way to induce my eye-rolling reflex.
In fact, there’s far too much internal reflection in general, for my taste. Lots of dwelling, remembering, rehashing things to death. I eventually skimmed quite a lot of those passages to get to the meat of the story, and it takes a lot for me to be willing to skim, because I respect how hard authors work on every word and I don’t want to miss any part of the character/relationship growth. But there was too much that just wasn’t new, wasn’t moving anything forward.
I also think Walker’s voice is too embedded in the internalizations of her characters, to where her leads from each book in this series, especially the females, all sound rather the same inside. The chatty, pep-talk style Walker uses was comedic and fresh in the first book, but it now makes the characters feel less original. It’s a style that would work really well in a series where the lead was the same character in each book. Same with the clever one liners that I love so much; it’s hard to believe that so many different characters throughout the series all have that same humor delivery. It’s a fine balance between fulfilling readers’ expectations with an author’s voice and becoming repetitive.
I also felt that Vanessa was too incapable to be on the Black Knights team. From first-hand knowledge I know that being a communications specialist for an elite team requires that the com. person be able to perform just as well as the elite members. Vanessa didn't exhibit the traits of a military-trained woman for her position. Rather than allow the character to have a unique advantage (I don't know of any other books where the heroine is military, do you?), it feels like her skills, strength and emotional processing are of a more typical rom sus heroine. A missed opportunity, I think.
As a standalone book I’d have rated it close to a 4, but on the heels of her other books the repetitive elements drop Thrill Ride down to about a 3 for me, so overall let’s call it 3.5 stars.
Favorite quote: (scene: Rock and Vanessa are in a tree house in the Costa Rican jungle) Placing 9mms inside a pot and securing the lid–capuchin monkeys sometimes snuck in and messed with his stuff, and the last thing he wanted was to accidentally plugged by some light-fingered primate–he turned back around to find Vanessa’s head cocked, her lips pursed.
More quotes at Goodreads
Series: No. 4 in the Black Knights Inc. series
Publication: MMP and ebook from Sourcebooks Casablanca (April 2, 2013)
Similar reading: For romantic suspense in an atypical setting, I’d recommend Pamela Clare’s Breaking Point (book 5 in the I-team series), which has a large portion of the book set in Mexico with the heroine (a reporter) and hero (ex-Seal and current Deputy U.S. Marshall) trying to escape captivity and make it through the desert to the U.S border.