You think I loved The Forbidden Rose I love this book so much that I want to start a family with this book I want to get married and live happily ever after with this book This book and I are meant for each other I love this book so much it s depressing HOW am I going to read other books The story, the plot and writing fantastic The characterizations spot on Like I said in the Forbidden Rose review, these characters are SPIES Their emotions are HIDDEN They don t go around expressing their emotions to pretty much anybody These characters typically don t even let other people have any clue that they re having emotions at all Tiny signals Not broad strokes God It s such an intelligent book We know Adrian from Forbidden Rose, Spymaster s Lady, and the much reviled by me My Lord and Spymaster We know him pretty well We ve watched Hawker grow up We know what he cares about, and what he s good at We met Justine in the Forbidden Rose, and had a inkling that she s the one who shot him in the Spymaster s Lady although we don t know why This book provides flashbacks to those stories, from Adrian and Justine s perspectives I think that this book is a little different from the others in this series in that the other books are about groups of people centering on the British secret service and the French spies who love them this book really focuses on Hawker and Justine They ve been friends since they were children, they ve had a very long, important, and complicated relationship, and they are currently at the outset of the story in their late 30s early 40s I ve read quite a few romances I ve never seen hero heroine this old I love it I ve read a few reviews that say that you can read this book as a standalone I don t recommend it I can t know what it would be like, but I think the knowledge of what s going on in the background is a very important part of this book It s kind of a meta book So freaking smart Okay, so I ll say what I like about the trilogy.1 The women are complete badasses Two of them are spies, and the other, while not technically a spy, is kind of like the Scarlet Pimpernel Would you call the Scarlet Pimpernel a spy She s as good as They are completely competent in what they choose to do And they choose to do kind of important things 2 The characters, both men and women not one of them are looking for, or remotely interested in finding mates well, maybe Hawker is, in the Black Hawk, but that s after nearly 30 YEARS of relationship with Justine They happen to find people they find engaging to the point of not being able to ignore them It s not that the women are disappointed in men, or they haven t found the person they re looking for they just have other things going on Saving France Averting an invasion of England Fighting the evil that is Robespierre The men also have lots going on Saving England Averting war Thwarting Napoleon They don t need to get married They don t even seem to need to get laid They might be damaged or not, but they don t take out their damage on the object of their affection The relationships they form are egalitarian and based on mutual respect 3 Can I just say that the relationships are SO COOL These people help each other achieve their goals They both have goals And the woman s goal is NOT to encourage the man to become less of a bastard 4 The writing is fantastic For example Half of the characters are English half are French all of the characters speak both French and English and of course, the books are written in English I might be fooling myself, but I think I can tell when the characters are speaking French and when they re speaking English, because the cadence of the language changes They idioms that they women, particularly, use, are different Brilliant Another example in the Forbidden Rose, right at the beginning Marguerite catches a rabbit to eat She s starving because the village people have burned down her house chateau and she had to flee for her life I think she s been eating grass and oats for a week Anyway, the very brief scene where she decides to set the rabbit free is so beautiful, and gives such an insight into her character That kind of thing surprisingly beautiful writing and characterizations happens again and again throughout these books 5 The characters don t tend to meet romance stereotypes Beautiful Women While Justine and Annique are objectively described as beautiful I don t think anyone else is Marguerite describes herself as plain, and I don t think it s a romance put on you know, oh my darn waist length curly auburn hair And my waist is so small compared to my hips So embarrassing Such a nuisance further, while they might be beautiful, Justine and Annique also often make themselves plain on demand These are characters who couldn t care less what they look like unless it s to be less noticeable Handsome men Maybe Grey is handsome But I get the distinct impression that Doyle is this huge lumbering bear like, frightening dude who has a face like a hatchet, but an intellect that can not be stopped And Hawker Whip thin, short, gaunt although muscular I don t think Bourne cares anything about romance conventions It makes it fun to read I saw a review that said that The Black Hawk is the best book of the year I totally agree Absolutely No competition I also saw a review that said that Bourne is one of the best historical romance writers of the last century I agree with this as well However, because her work is so transgressive, I don t know how well her books fit within the historical romance genre What I m saying I think she s a historical romance writer Given the nature of genre conventions, there s nothing else she could be However, I don t think her books are very much like other books within this genre This is the sign of a great writer, but it makes for difficult recommendations. This is a bit along in a series depending on if you go chronologically or by publication date And you definitely want to read the others first Adrian features strongly in them all and a large part of the charm of this story is seeing his culmination.I m afraid I m going to be an outlier on this one because most of my friends who have read this loved it to bits A lot of that is probably because Adrian is such a strong presence in the other books and it is very gratifying to see him get his girl in the end And Justine is perfect for him in pretty much every way so on that level, this story is outstanding.Unfortunately for me, other elements intruded to rain on my enjoyment A strong component of this series has been the competence porn aspect that has the main characters being very good at spying and scheming and confounding their enemies and delighting their friends And Adrian and Justine qualify on that score The thing is, though, that for the main characters to truly shine, they need opposition that doesn t suck And that was lacking in every way here Both main foils turn out to be bumbling idiots who succeed only so far as they don t bother anybody too much Justine s bad guy is particularly bad as he s nothing than a pastiche of Snidely Whiplash only without the mustache or charm.Dragging this further for me is how much time they waste I don t see the devotion to Napoleon that fuels Justine s action through most of her life but her loyalty means that it isn t until he s wiped out that she can even contemplate approaching Adrian So the whole time they re working things out in the present I m grousing in my head about how they re both almost forty and practically dead I mean, this is 1818 for heaven s sake.Speaking of which, having Justine brewing antiseptic concoctions in 1818 was pretty jarring, I have to tell you As was Adrian talking about disinfecting a wound Since germ theory was nearly a half century away I found that just sloppy.So anyway, there s great banter and I really liked them both so a solid 3 stars But every time I consider rounding up I can t get past that they wasted half their lifetime futzing around because Napoleon was such a great guyA note about Steamy There are three explicit sex scenes I think I admit I kind of tuned them out after the first Frankly, I m wondering what kind of birth control they had seeing as they spent five years as frequent ish lovers in their youth Bourne kind of hand waved that away but it still niggled at me a bit, too And yeah, I really hated that they separated after being together and in love for so long. Oh Wow. She was with Hawker, so she was safe In all the world, there was no flesh, no bone, no sound of breathing she would mistake for Hawker sI ll have to admit, my expectations were probably way too high after reading Doyle s book I was really looking forward to Adrian s story, and I while I really liked it it didn t blow me away like I d hoped With that said though, I am still enjoying the series immensely I am really looking forward to these last two books. Sweet utter perfection.My crystal ball tells me..Nothing will live up to this for many many months. I reviewed this novel on my www.bookworm2bookworm.wordpress.com blog 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 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 Melanie I mean, I really like this author s writing style in everything she does It s vaguely flowery and antiquated, so be warned I like that and it makes some people furious, so it might not be for you It makes the book feel significant than others in the genre, Outlander light than frothy stuff ANYWAY I enjoyed this book, but I think there was some tension lost in the plot construction I mean, there was no tension because you pretty much knew the two were DEFINITELY gonna get together, they re together in the first chapter pretty much except she s dying, except you know she won t die because that s the genre, right The flashback style of the long history of the characters was kind of beautiful and the ending was made poignant for the long years they d been kept apart, but the inevitability of their union lacked tension, and I didn t REALLY care about the peril story as much as the characters, which were well drawn as usual I dunno, still a very good read, but the first in this series is hard to top, being one of my fave Historical romance novels out there This author remains on my read list for sure 3.5 stars I admire Joanna Bourne s writing skills and her excellent historical research Unfortunately for me, I m not really a fan of spy adventure type stories The romance element in this book is strong, which kept me reading Adrian and Justine are absolutely lovely together And I loved that Adrian is view spoiler now head of the British Secret Service hide spoiler Their story started a few years after the reign of terror when they were just children..Children grew up too fast Hammered by life and injustice By lascivious, powerful men By greedy governments who exploited children Owl HawkSecret lovers since teens but became something during the reign of Napoleon There re a lot of thing to be appreciated here The writing strangely compelling, IMHO Here is an exampleThe banyan was embroided with dragons One lascivious lizard curled all comfy on her left breast, tounge out, as if he were tasting he nipple trough the cloth The black dragon on the back, had his pointy tail hung down so it was caressing the rounded arse underneath.He Hawk didn t let his mind follow that path, however much it tugged at the leash and whinedThe mutual acceptance of the feeling for each other There s no denial They know that what they re feeling is strong and special It was really lovely to read The absolute trust in each other and each other s capabilities I really appreciated that Both of them acknowledge that the other is fully capable of taking care of himself and his her business That s so rare in a romance novel and here it was just wonderful, considering their profession and its dangers.If you want a really great spy novel historical romance, this is it Adrian Hawker Rose Up Snarling Out Of The Slums Of London, A Cunning Thief And A Skilled Killer He S Rescued From That Life By The British Service, Who Have Uses For His Particular Skill Set Justine DeCabrillac, Daughter Of The Nobility Whose Parents Died In The Chaos Of The Revolution, Is Rescued From A Decadent Child Brothel By A Woman Of The French Secret Police Justine, Too, Becomes A Great Spy For France Attacked On A Rainy London Street, Justine Knows Only One Man Can Save Her Hawker, Her Oldest Friendher Oldest Enemy London Is Crawling With Hidden Assassins, And Someone Is Out To Frame Hawker For Murder The Two Spies Must Work Together To Find Who S Out To Destroy Them
Joanna lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge with her family, a medium sized mutt and a faux Himalayan cat.She writes Historical Romances set in England and France during the Napoleonic Wars She s fascinated by that time and place such passionate conviction and burning idealism and really sexy clothes.
- Audio CD
- The Black Hawk
- Joanna Bourne
- 18 December 2017 Joanna Bourne