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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 September 2015
This is my favourite book in the series. The love story of 'awker and Justine is told in flashbacks as Justine first fights for her life after an assassination attempt, then assists The British Service in tracing a 'mole'. A thrilling plot, delightful love story and sublime writing. I could not put it down and wanted to go back to the beginning almost as soon as I finished it.
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on 14 June 2017
This is my favourite of the series but the other titles have been preparing you for the story of Hawker and Justine. I love how Bourne deftly draws these characters and her dialogue is wonderful and rich. You have got to admire her craft. A truly talented writer deserving more recognition.
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on 7 March 2014
I started this series by reading 'The Spymaster's Lady' and immediately followed it up with 'The Black Hawk'. I loved both books and am looking forward to the remaining two. Ms Bourne writes extremely well and with a great deal of atmosphere and period detail. I particularly liked The Black Hawk because of the way in which we're taken back in time for a first-hand look at some of the major incidents in Aidrian's and Justine's past. Highly recommended.
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on 25 January 2012
I've said it time and again, - Joanna Bourne is incredible. Her books are pure poetry, philosophical, deep, melancholic and immensely romantic. She also put huge amount of research in the subject - French Revolution and Napoleon's Empire.

French Revolution is one of my favourite settings for historical romances - spies, assassins, looser morals, than in Victorian era, desperation and survival of the fittest... It's wild, brutal, and it's time of great changes.

The Black Hawk follows the life of two spies - a French one, Justine, and an English one, Adrian. The book starts in the present and goes back in flashes through years of their complicated relations, because Adrian and Justine have know each other since they were children.

Even as children they are so old ad wise for their age it's creepy and sad. Adrian grew up on the streets of London as a thief, Justine, a daughter of an aristocrat, was molested as a child and sold into a brothel. Both escaped and survived by being picked up and trained to be spies.

Even as teens they are mad for each other, but their responsibilities come first. It's hugely romantic how they snatch precious moments to meet risking their lives over both sides of the Channel, how they save each others' lives countless times despite trying to reject their relationship for each others safety.

They are pure star-crossed lovers, and when they reunite in their late thirties, Justine is dying, and it's up to Adrian to save her life and find those responsible for an attempt to assassinate her.

Joanna's writing is gorgeous, and this book was one of the two best historical romances I've read last year. Highly recommended.
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on 6 December 2011
Joanna Bourne is an excellent, evocative and lyrical writer. Some of her sentences could be set to music. I loved this series (especially the first one) and this book - the fourth in the series - is the story of Adrian and Justine and it is way up to standard. The intricate and clever plot centres around two people, after the war is over, finding out that things they did in the past have caught up with them.

While rooting for them to get together, you are led through unusual twists and turns, familiar in a Bourne book. It is a page turner and delicious to read. I thoroughly recommend it.

Having said that, I do hope Joanna has now heaved the French Revolution and spies out of her writing system because I simply cannot wait to see what she makes of other periods of history (but please, no more spies!)
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on 8 October 2012
The dashing hero of this story started life as a guttersnipe and pickpocket. In the previous books we see him rise through espionage's ranks to become chief spy, through his bravery, daring and ability. In a series of episodes we see the developing relationship between him and his sometime protagonist and love of his life, from childhood, through revolution and war, to resolution. Despite their harrowing adventures Adrian and Justine find each other, and are a perfect match There are no long dull passages in this book, all the villains are suitably vile, and the heroes dashing and resourceful. The author does not succumb to sentimentality or slow down the narrative by delving into the characters' motivation yet they all behave in a way that feels psychologically true. The book is amusing and enthralling; in fact totally satisfactory.
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on 23 April 2012
One of a handful of books where you fall in love with the hero just from reading about him.

Where has Joanna Bourne been all my life? She is an exceptional writer and storyteller.

This book has been nominated for a Rita award and, trust me, there can be no justice in the world unless it walks away with it. All four books in the series were marvellous. I wish I could unread them so I could read them all over again.

Bring on your next book, Joanna! It will be on pre-order from me.
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on 18 January 2016
I left this novel in the Spymasters Series until last. WOW. I loved it.

First, the romance between Adrian Hawker (Hawkhurst) and Justine is the stuff of epic romance. My words cannot do it justice except to say I love them both and was awed by their romance. How Adrian slays Justine’s intimacy demons is a thing of beauty and completely sigh-worthy. Their fidelity and love through war and danger is beautiful.

Secondly, to the reading experience: I am so glad I read The Spymaster’s Lady, The Forbidden Rose, and Rogue Spy first and in that order. As I read The Black Hawk, I could see where those other novels interweaved with it. Having read them all recently, my memory of the events and characters was vivid and enhanced my reading experience here. The ability to arrange in my head the events of these 4 novels was a complete reading thrill. Joanna Bourne is such a clever writer. She has supplied me with many hours of gripping, absorbing romance and intrigue. Thank-you so much! I will be returning to read these novels again.

On her website, Joanna Bourne suggests that we read The Black Hawk first. Unknowingly, I did the opposite. It doesn't matter what order you read the novels in the Spymaster Series. They are all excellent. The ones I have listed in this review have events that occur simultaneously or following each other. That's why it's a good idea to read them close together. The order I read them in worked well for me.

For those interested in the timelines of the novels in The Spymaster Series, Joanna Bourne outlines them here (with spoilers – be warned): http://jobourne.blogspot.com.au/search/label/The%20Spymaster%20fictive%20universe

If you would like to see how the author visualises Adrian Hawker/Hawkhurst, he is the one in Photo B here: http://jobourne.blogspot.com.au/search/label/Her%20Ladyship%27s%20Companion
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on 7 November 2013
I have read this book so many times now but I keep coming back! It is a wonderful mix of romance, intrigue and history that really brings the story to life. I can't say how historically accurate these books actually are, but they definitely feel realistic. My only suggestion would be to readers who haven't read the other books in this series, start with the others first, it's not absolutely necessary as this is a good story anyway, but it would give a bit more background info to some of the characters and the flashbacks.
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on 19 August 2013
So glad I have discovered Joanna Bourne. Have read the three books leading up to this one and loved them all so couldn't imagine Joanna could better them. That was a mistake, obviously I shouldn't underestimate her! This book was amazing, loved the way it started almost at the end and then took us back over their meetings through the years. Loved, loved, loved it.
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