Book Review: Julie Ann Walker’s Hell on Wheels

Posted July 26, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Julie Ann Walker’s Hell on Wheels

Hell on Wheels


Julie Ann Walker

romantic suspense that was published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 7, 2012 and has 349 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Rev It Up

First in the Black Knights Inc. romantic suspense series and revolving around the Black Knights, an independent black ops group. The couple focus is on Nate Weller and Ali Morgan.

My Take

Whew, Walker pulls you in so quickly, and I was tearing up within pages. She also does a beautiful job of teasing you along about what happened to Nate and why he feels such guilt about it.

It’s an interesting use of dialect in this, and simple enough to understand, although that c’min still has me trying out different full-out spellings.

What I can’t get excited about is how quickly she makes Aldus out as the bad guy — it doesn’t take Walker long to set Aldus up as an egotistical “omnipotent” jerk. Sure, it fits the story, but the tension could have been so much greater if he’d “seemed” to be a good guy. Although, hypocrite that I am, it’s nice to get the bad guy’s identity out of the way so I know who to hate *grin*!

Another disconnect is Ali’s reaction and anger with Grigg over how much he kept secret. Hullo? National security? What she doesn’t know, she can’t tell? After twelve years of Grigg’s military involvement, the point of not telling her has never come up? I agree with her assessment that knowing a person is knowing everything — warts and all — about a person, but…no. I can certainly see why Nate doesn’t want to tell her how or where Grigg actually died, but gimme a break on the rest. I really got tired of the “h-e-double-hockey-sticks” cursing too…*eye roll*…

I suppose that tired trope — I must go with you no matter how stupid — was necessary, but it did cause some eye-rolling on my part along with a very short laugh and more eye-rolling over Nate’s phobia. I do have to agree with their assessment of Ali’s car, though, lol. I also got irritated with the smart Ali who can’t remember stating it was just a one-night stand. Duh…I can see her wanting more, but with all her years of experience with Nate and how hard he’s resisted to this point, and she still falls into this trope? WTF was Patti doin’ with chocolate chip cookies outside?

Methinks Walker has been reading Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire. Oh, crack me up: “a Cabela’s catalog on crack”.

Ozzie cracked me up with that search of Ali’s luggage. Mmm-hmmm, drove Nate out of his mind as well, just not the positive laughing I was doing. Then there’s Walker’s description of Ali’s “linguistic trots” under stressful situations, lol. Poor baby. Although she makes up for it big time when she tells ’em all what they’re wearing and where it’s hidden, making them all stop in their tracks, lol.

I do love how Grigg has taught his baby sister how to handle herself. It’s such a practical thing to have done. LOL, nor did he limit the teaching to defense and weapons, oh, lordy. It is a bittersweet moment of great memories along with that sense of loss, especially when Nate tells Ali that she was Grigg’s heart. Talk about buckets of tears.

It’s pretty impressive really, how obsessed Nate is with Ali — and Ali with Nate — and yet neither has any clue how the other feels. It’s hard to believe two such intelligent people could go twelve years without getting some glimmer. And, just how is it that Nate and Ali manage to suppress almost all reactions after their little get-together on the beach? I’d’ve expected more emotion and greater reactions than those few short, scattered paragraphs.

I have to confess that I was readin’ along, enjoyin’ the B-plus-quality of the story, and then I got hit with Walker’s love scene. WHOA. Excellent show! I’d recommend it as a read for authors looking for romantic examples. A definite upgrade in the writing quality. Then she hit me with the truth about Grigg’s death. Yup. Her ability to pull us in with the show almost had me pukin’ my guts out. The way Walker described the calm that descends over Nate in the shootout. Wow, I felt myself entering that same state right along with him.

I’m guessing that Walker has introduced most of the series’ good guy characters — unless that new hire at the end has a lot more skills than I know about. She’s also injected personality and future conflicts (check that full-stop Boss lays down!) in this fun, cozy read in an interesting combination of motorcycles, romance, honorable alpha males, and action. Mmm, did I mention action heroes?

Ya can’t help but love these guys. Walker has created a very homey set-up with terrific individuals who really interact with each other. They’re sensitive — yeah, can ya dig it? — and macho all at the same time.

The Story

A few months have elapsed since Grigg’s accidental death at the garage, and Ali is feeling…followed. Watched. Desperate, she turns up at the Black Knights garage for help and ambushes Nate.

The Characters

Alisa Morgan is a kindergarten teacher (with a fabulous collection of lingerie) at Ridgeline Elementary who has lost her only and beloved brother, Grigg, when an op went bad. Carla and Paul Morgan are their self-involved parents.

Former Marine Sergeant Nate “Ghost” Weller is a sniper, a well-trained member of Black Knights Inc., and a wreck since he lost his best friend.

The Black Knights Inc.
…is a super-secret, independent black ops company based in Chicago in a chop shop turning out custom motorcycles. Yeah, right… A former SEAL, Frank “Boss” Knight is in charge with a public desire for root beer Dum Dums and a secret yen for the ambitious Rebecca “The Rebel” Reichert, their “resident wunderkind mechanic” and Wild Bill’s sister. Big Red and Manus Connelly are brothers and, at least the latter, is the watchman. Geralt. Dan Man; Patti is Dan’s wife and the resident house mother and office manager — she keeps them running smoothly in all things. The ebullient Ethan “Ozzie” Sykes is their computer guru,Trekkie, and contemporary culture fanatic. Peanut is the hugely overweight feline mascot for the team.

The guys out on their particular missions include Steady, the team medic and ex-SAS agent; Rock and Wild Bill, their explosives expert, are playing bodyguard; and, Christian, former FBI agent? Mac, and some Mossad agent, “Jamin”, are off in South America or somewhere.

General Pete Fuller is one of the Joint Chiefs. President Thompson is the commander-in-chief. FBI Special Agent Jordan “GQ” Delaney goes behind some backs. Chelsea Duvall still works at the CIA.

Senator Alan Aldus has his own agenda when it comes to national security…and his pocketbook. Seems ex-CIA agent Dagan Zoelner has more morals than are desirable in spite of why he got kicked out of the CIA (got his whole team and two civilians killed; I wonder who set him up…). Avan is Dagan’s brother who’s in trouble. Johnny Vitiglioni‘s specialty is Colombian neckties with the class to match. Rocco De Lucca and Frankie “the Shark” Costa are his Mafia goons.

Mr. French Bread and Rugby Jersey come to Ali’s aid. Delilah’s is a rough-and-tumble bar the Black Knights like to frequent. Red Delilah is the leather-clad owner. Buzzard is one of its patrons. Raquel Silva turns out to have been a great teacher.

The Cover and Title

The cover is gray and black tones with a garage background, a motorcycle to populate it, and Nathan in jeans and a tight black T-shirt, lookin’ good.

LOL, I think the title refers to Ali, for she’s like no woman anyone could expect, and she’s Hell on Wheels.