Guest Review: The Taming of the Hawk by Anne Brooke

When escaped prisoner Redallek Castonar goes on the run in the war-torn city of Tetranal, he finds himself in the pleasure-house of Councillor Jarrod Tetran. Unaware that Redallek has made a blood-promise with the rebel factions to kill him, Jarrod is instantly attracted to the man. Although Redallek is determined to complete his mission as soon as possible in order to gain his freedom, he quickly finds his new master to be full of surprises and not the man he expected.

Meanwhile, Jarrod is secretly planning to take the ruling Council captive, and to begin a negotiated peace with the rebel army. Even though such an act goes against all his family stands for, he is willing to risk everything to save the country he loves from destruction.

Both Redallek and Jarrod are determined to fight for freedom and peace, but in two very different ways. Will their differences drive them apart, or can they find a way to work together for the good of all? And, even if they do, will the passion springing up between them lead to victory or defeat?

Reviewed by Vivian 

Cry "Havoc!" And let slip the dogs of war.--Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Nice pace that is action-packed with an ongoing war, rebel forces, and a failing absolute power structure. When the lines are unclear there is plenty of room for questionable ethical and moral opportunities and it is no different in the city of Tetran.

Councilor Jarrod Tetran, one of three family members place in the oligarchy makes an unexpected acquisition amidst strategizing a new tactic for peace. Taking in the filthy, bedraggled, and hunted escaped slave, Red brings about consequences. His mercy reaps more than he could ever imagined.

Redallek is more than he seems. Once within the councilor's domicile he learns things that change everything--or do they? Competing allegiances and outcomes make his position tenuous.
"This stinks of massacre and not rebellion."
Nice subset of supporting characters from Jarrod's friend, Magron and his chatelaine, Bessani. Good depth portrayed via the storyline without detracting or slowing down the pace. The tone of the narration and characters is highly formal. I found this completely in keeping with the oligarchical characters, but less so with Redallek.

Social class division and power inequity is the main external conflict and when absolute power structures fail it tends to be rather spectacular. And it is by harnessing the power of spectacle that the peace plan has a chance of success when the lines drawn are so deep and are seemingly unretractable.

Finally, this has a romance. There is pain play between Jarrod and Red. It is consensual and while I wouldn't have minded a bit more detail; it was suited to the characters and the story. Since this was a short timeframe, I found the depth of attachment even if questioned by both parties a little suspicious. Nonetheless, I rolled with it because 90% of the story is action and subterfuge, not romance.

The conclusion of the story is wrapped up very quickly and in all honesty the events that are shown within a day or two would have stretched out longer in reality, especially the endgame. The furor of the heated moments were perfectly timed.

Overall, the uncertainty of no man's land during war is well portrayed with a budding romance on the side.

Favorite quote:
"It is when the hawk comes to you of its own accord that you know the beginning of its taming is true," Jarrod said softly.
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