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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Review: Shadow of the Hawk

Shadow of the Hawk
by Judith Rochelle

Hawk Riley’s life was in a downward spiral until his truck fell on him and he met Maggie Devereaux. And Maggie had problems. Lots of them. A stranger was out to destroy her. She was on the verge of losing her famous cutting horse ranch, Mercy Creek. And she needed help to prepare for the Wayback Grand Rodeo, her make-it-or-break-it moment. Pursued by a red tailed hawk and haunted by a persistent nightmare, could Hawk help Maggie save Mercy Creek and in doing so save himself?

Judith Rochelle's 'Shadow of the Hawk' is part of the 'Wayback, Texas' series. This romance shares the "Wayback' location with others in the series. Tough, hard working Maggie Devereaux runs her ranch, without little help, and in spite of actual antipathy from her neighbors. Her ex is against her- at times, it feels like everyone is against her. Out-of-luck, consummate cowboy Hawk Riley is equally hard up... his best ideas, like trying to apply for a job at the ranch, always end up thwarted. When a timely, although painful, accident brings them together, it seems fate is willing to take a second look. Maggie certainly needs no convincing to take a second look; sexy, masculine Hawk Riley is compelling, even from flat out in bed.

Rochelle does a great job making her characters suit a very realistic ranch-life backdrop. Some details are very rich, and make the reader believe they've visited the 'real' Texas. The opening scene, with the dark storm advancing toward Hawk across the sweep of plains starts the whole story off with a strong undercurrent of drama. Mercy Creek Ranch, their elite of elite cutting horses, raising foals, the stolid and reliable ranch boss Charlie, and general ranch duties all fill out the picture just right.

Rochelle's main characters steal the show however; not only for strength of character and their admirable strength of will, but for the fairly crackling sexual tension between them. Maggie knows all about Hawk's history, and Hawk knows he has no business going after Maggie, and the tension only builds. Sheer determination make both standouts; and they and the unpredictable plot make 'Shadow of the Hawk,' a standout.

Review by Snapdragon