Redonk Nutshell: The story of two rival spies and how they went from enemies, to friends to lovers

The long awaited book in Joanna Bourne’s Spymaster series has finally arrived!  I rejoiced at getting my hands on Adrian Hawker’s story.  I’ve read three of four of Bourne’s series, and I’ve been somewhat enamored of Adrian from the start.  I was really, really excited to read this and get more quality time with Adrian.

The book starts out with Justine DeCabrillan, a former French spy, being attacked while on her way to seek out Adrian.  Justine and Adrian have a long, complicated history.  They met in France as young teens, working together despite them being employed by rivaling countries. When they grow older their relationship turns romantic, and in turn more complicated.  They go their separate ways, although reluctantly, when their jobs force them to work against each other.  When Justine shows up at Meeks Street, the headquarters for British Intelligence, Adrian is furious that someone is trying to get to him through her.  Thus begins the work of solving the mystery of who has it out for him.

Ms. Bourne doesn’t disappoint with The Black Hawk.  You can always count on a richly detailed and lush historical story that’s packed with intrigue and adventure.  She reads more like literary fiction rather than “romance,” if you know what I mean.  Her books are chocked full of information.  There’s not a trace of fluff to be found.  Her characters are tough yet flawed, brutal yet witty.  There are several moments of exchange between Justine and Adrian that had me smiling – their dialogue is completely “them.”  It’s lovely.

That said, I actually had a hard time drudging through the back story.  I know, I know!  I should be smacked.  I’m attributing my lack of attention span to the fact that I was so anxious to get to know Adrian as he was today that the flashbacks into his younger days proved to be challenging for me. It’s not that they weren’t interesting – they were – it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

I think that when the day comes when I go back and re-read The Black Hawk I’ll find I appreciate it much more.  It really is a lovely book, and I was pleased with the development between Justine and Adrian.

The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne, 336 pgs, 11/1/11

Rating: B-

Romance: 3/5              Raunch: 3/5

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