Julie Ann Walker
Hell for Leather (Black Knights Inc.)
Sourcebooks Casablanca / May 6, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital
Only a crisis could persuade Delilah Fairchild to abandon her beloved biker bar, let alone ask Black Knights Inc. operator Bryan “Mac” McMillan for help. But her uncle has vanished into thin air, and sexy, surly Mac has the connections to help her find him. What the big, blue-eyed Texan has against her is a mystery... but when the bullets start to fly, Mac becomes her only hope of survival, and her only chance of finding her uncle alive.
Mac knows a thing or two about beautiful women- mainly that they can't be trusted. Throw in a ticking clock, a deadly homegrown terrorist, and some missing nuclear weapons, and a man just might find himself on the wrong end of the gun. But facing down danger with Delilah is one passion-filled thrill ride...
It's hard to be believe it’s been almost a year and a half since I reviewed the first book in this series, Hell on Wheels, for H&H. While I have liked all the books in the series, none of them have been overtake the love I had (and still have) for that first book. Hell for Leather, the sixth book in Julie Ann Walker's Black Knights Inc. series, comes the closest so far of capturing the first book's magic.
Hell for Leather features Bryan “Mac” McMillan who gets pulled into a mystery involving the uncle of BKI’s favorite bar owner, Delilah Fairchild. It doesn’t take long for the adventure to kick into high gear and soon enough there are gunshots, attempted kidnappings, and, best of all, international, as well as, interdepartmental intrigue. You know the good guys, and you know the bad guys, but you’re not sure all the good guys recognize the same in each other.
Mac’s attempts to deny his feelings for Delilah seem futile from the prologue. Eventually, the story comes around as to why he’s so reluctant to engage in a relationship, and the reason was a little bit of a surprise. Walker is good at making situations seem one way before bringing the complete, true picture into focus for the audience. I appreciate that about her books. I also appreciate her sassy heroines, who have no problems asking for help when they need it, but you never really feel like they’re helpless.
“I need you,” she pointed a red-tipped finger a Zoelner’s nose, causing the man to go cross-eyed when he attempted to focus on it. Whoa. What? She needed….Zoelner? Then she turned to include him in that stomach-churning statement. “I need both of you.”
Zoelner’s face pulled down in a considering frown. “Just to be clear, I’m not usually the kind of man who likes to share his pleasures.” Okay, and just the thought had a lurid emotion — not jealousy, definitely not jealousy – buzzing at the back of Mac’s head like a swarm of angry Texas yellow jackets. “But if you’ve a mind to—"
“Not like that,” Delilah hissed, color climbing into her already flushed cheeks.
All right. Something…Mac tilted his head, blinking…isn’t right here.
nfortunately, the discombobulating combination of scotch and Delilah’s nearness ensured he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Then she saved him the trouble of trying to figure it out when she blurted, “My uncle is missing. And I need you guys to help me find him.”
Well, of course! You get the feeling that she could choose to try and do this on her own, if she wanted to, but she’s smarter than that. Yay! From there, the action picks up, and the story takes off. As they go through the process of searching for Uncle Theo, and as the reader learns more about who is behind his kidnapping, and why, Mac’s feelings for Delilah eventually become impossible to ignore. As usual, however, a quick roll in the hay is hardly enough to resolve the issue, but a meaningful relationship seems out of reach.
In the end, it takes a well-intentioned friend to set the path of true love back on track. I would have preferred Mac tell his own story to Delilah, but that probably wasn’t going to happen. However it happens, the deed gets done and love wins the day.
The secondary story lines are equally intriguing in this book. Spy vs. Spy , starring ex-CIA agent Dagan Zoelner and current Company operative Chelsea Duvall, was one of my favorite things about this book. There is a bunch of shady business going on inside the CIA, to be played out in future books, I suspect. That, combined with some unfortunate misunderstandings and miscommunications, made me feel sorry for both Chelsea and Zoelner. And yet….I can’t wait to see what happens next with them. It is a little bit reminiscent of Brockmann’s Sam and Alyssa, but not entirely the same.
Hell for Leather is a fantastic addition to the series. New readers can enter the series at this point, and not be hopelessly lost, but will want to go back and see all they have missed. Romantic suspense at its finest.
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