“The Black Hawk” by Joanna Bourne

STORY: He is her enemy. He is her lover. He is her only hope.

Someone is stalking agent Justine DeCabrillac through London’s gray streets. Under cover of the rain, the assassin strikes-and Justine staggers to the door of the one man who can save her. The man she once loved. The man she hated.  Adrian Hawkhurst.

Adrian wanted the treacherous beauty known as “Owl” back in his bed, but not wounded and clinging to life. Now, as he helps her heal, the two must learn to trust each other to confront the hidden menace that’s trying to kill them-and survive long enough to explore the passion simmering between them once again…

REVIEW: ‘The Black Hawk’ by Joanna Bourne is a tale that had to be told. I have a feeling that if Ms. Bourne never intended for it, she would have been literally mobbed by every fan of her earlier tales, until she ‘put it out there’.  

How can I relate to you my emotions while reading this tender love story?! Reading it I felt like Julia Roberts in that scene with Richard Gere from “Pretty Woman’ where he dolls her all up and takes her to see her first Opera. She is so taken by the performance that she almost leaps out of her seat over the balcony, with her eyes filled with tears and her heart so full of too many emotions to be put to words. She just sat there taking it all in. Absorbing it like a sponge, thinking it unreal, and afraid it would end too soon for her to absorb it ALL!

That’s me. That’s exactly how I felt reading this tale.

If you’ve never read a Joanna Bourne novel, then that’s what you’re missing. You are missing a trip to a time that was not so pleasant, to say the least, in the History of the French as well as the World, yet filled with uncertainty and excitement, but also with love.

Romance for each of us starts at a different time and age, and sometimes we don’t even know it until it’s way too late. Occasionally, and if we’re lucky, we might recognize it and call it love.

For Adrian and Justine that romance started at an age that some would say was too young, unless they knew that these two never had a chance to BE young. Their souls were forced to grow old at an early age. Many years will pass before they realize and admit to each other their love for one another and let their souls finally feel they’ve come home.

I will not summarize the plot for you, but I will tell you about a boy who grew up without a name (he named himself), isn’t even sure how old he is, survives the worst of the slums of London by his intelligence and wits (light fingers, cunning and a skill with a knife notwithstanding).

By providence, he gets recruited by and taken under the protective wing of William Doyle (The Forbidden Rose) to be trained as an English Spy for British Intelligence Service. We, the readers, are fortunate to watch this sprite become a most efficient and ruthless of spies, who ends up Knighted and becomes a Head of BIS.

Adrian and Justine meet for the first time in Doyle and Maggie’s story (The Forbidden Rose), and we follow Adrian through two other happily ever after of Annique and Gray (The Spymaster’s Lady) and Bastien and Jess (My Lord and Spymaster).

Justine DeCabrillac was eleven years old when her parents were killed and she taken with her two-year old sister by a family ‘friend’ to a brothel and forced into whoring. From that hell, she is rescued and given home by Madame, a head of the Secret Police in Paris. By the time she meets ‘Awker two years later, she’s become an employee and a spy for the Secret Police, and is now working for Adrian’s enemy.

Even though they worked for the opposite sides, their missions placed them in a close proximity of each other, and they gained respect for one another and became friends. Because of what she went through as a child, Adrian did his best to not even broach her on his feelings for her. If anything was to happen between them, he knew that it would have to be started by Justine.

And after she finally approaches him, ‘Awker knows that to make love to her, he would need to ‘cleanse’ her from the inside out, before he takes her on a journey that will eventually lead them to their destiny.

Adrian Hawkhurst ‘Hawker’ and Justine DeCabrillac ‘Owl’ have a mystery to solve, bad guys to catch, and big, life changing decisions to make, and I had a front row seat as I was invited to witness their life as it happened.

Ms. Bourne’s prose is legendary by now, but if you’re still not convinced at how good she can ‘spin a tale’ here’s just one of many, many favorite parts of mine in this tale.

The scene below is of Justine and Hawker in a room full of people at a fancy ball. They’re on a lookout for the enemy, and he is very worried about her as she’s not quite healed yet from her knife wound. He kept following her with his eyes, not seeing anyone but her.

“He couldn’t touch Owl, except with his eyes, so he let his imagination slide across her, planning where he’d kiss her later tonight. He liked kissing beauty and he’d done a certain amount of that over the years. With Owl, he’d start with beauty and go on to kissing ruthlessness and ideals in the lines at the corners of her eyes. Passion and practicality sitting around her mouth. Not a comfortable woman, his Owl. Not ordinary.”

So, my dear bookworm, if you like sweet romance, this book has it in spades. If you prefer intrigue, you won’t go wrong with this tale. It is chock full of it. Not convinced yet?! Well, let me put it this way.

Ms. Bourne has wrapped this story in drama, romance, plot, intrigue and sensuality and made it a one-stop-shop so I cried a little, laughed a little but I was never bored, even a little!