Author: Tal Bauer
Publisher: Self-Published/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 672 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Suspense/Thriller
At a Glance: If you’re looking for something to sink your teeth into, you should definitely go check this one out!
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: A federal judge running from the truth.
A U.S. marshal running from his past.
A trial that can plunge the world into war.
Federal Judge Tom Brewer is finally putting the pieces of his life back together. In the closet for twenty-five long years, he’s climbing out slowly, and, with the hope of finding a special relationship with the stunning Mike Lucciano, U.S. Marshal assigned to his DC courthouse. He wants to be out and proud, but he can’t erase his own past, and the lessons he learned long ago.
But a devastating terrorist attack in the heart of DC, and the subsequent capture and arrest of the terrorist, leads to a trial that threatens to expose the dark underbelly of America’s national security.
As Russia beats the drums of war, intent on seeking revenge, and the United States struggles to contain the storm before it races out of control, secrets and lies, past and present, collide in Judge Tom Brewer’s courtroom. With the world’s attention fixed on Tom and this case, he suddenly discovers he may be the only person who can put everything together in time to stop the spark of a new world war.
Review: Tal Bauer has another hit on his hands, guys. His newest novel, Hush, is another fantastic blend of romance and suspense. If you enjoyed the slow-burn romance and heart-pounding action of his Executive Office series, then you will undoubtedly also love this book. Once again set in Washington D.C., Hush takes us away from the executive and over to the judicial branch of government, and shows us what it’s like inside the DC courthouse.
The book almost feels like it’s divided neatly into halves. The first half is that slow burn between Tom and Mike. I loved watching the friendship build, and then slowly become more. Bauer does this so well, allowing relationships between his characters to organically deepen. I literally fell in love with both Judge Brewer and Inspector Lucciano in the first chapter, and was rooting for them the entire way. And, their chemistry was smokin’ hot. They were both so funny when they were trying to be covert in their interest, and in their initial flirtations, but I especially loved how smitten Mike was with Judge Brewer. There is a scene where he is trying to be all smooth and cool while bringing Tom’s morning cup of coffee to him for after his workout, and ends up seeing Tom coming out of the pool. He is so adorably and hilariously thrown off his game—it cracked me up.
The second half of the book is where you had better buckle up. Shit gets real at about forty-four percent, and does not slow down one iota until the very end. There are so many nail-biting, breath-holding moments. Even the process of deciding who was going to get the big case was suspenseful! And, we knew it was going to be Judge Brewer! Bauer nails the courtroom drama. Totally nails it. It felt like reading Grisham. The character of the assassin, Desheriyev, was so perfect he gave me creepy chills during his testimony; and Vadim Kryukov, who is actually the defendant in the case, was fantastically complex and intriguing. And, Bauer will keep you guessing as to who the real villain is or isn’t. Such good stuff.
The plot and the action are obviously a huge part of Bauer’s formula for a great romantic thriller, but it’s the characters that really drive the book for me. He takes such great care with character development, even the supporting cast is a must-mention. Starting with Etta Mae. I have never met a basset hound who was more deserving of having her own story. Maybe she can be the lead in one of the author’s Bauer’s Bytes! 😉 All kidding aside, I truly loved her so much. I also have mad love for Mike’s best friend, Kris. He’s loyal, smart, and very sassy. At one point, he shocked the hell out of me, and now I really can’t wait for his book, which is supposed to be released this fall.
The one tiny niggle I had while reading was Tom’s over-thinking and near-constant mental self-flagellation. He had a somewhat repetitive inner monologue going (mostly in the first half) where he beat himself up for how deeply he remained in the closet for so long, and how much he’d lost and missed out on by allowing his old professor to bully him. I get how devastating that all was to him, of course. But, I loved him so much I wanted him to stop beating himself up, and to believe that he was worthy of Mike’s attention and that he deserved to be happy. He did come around, but it was a process.
That small issue aside, there was so much to love about this book. I loved the patriotism, and how much Tom respects the bench and loves being a judge. I loved President McDonough. I mean, he’s no Jack Spears… but he was a badass! I loved the crazy, awesome places Bauer took us in the last section of the book. From the city, to the wilds of West Virginia, I honestly didn’t know what might be coming next. And, I loved Every. Single. Thing about Mike.
I’m glad there is going to be at least one more book in this universe. Getting Kris’s book will make the wait for Adam and Faisal’s book a bit more bearable. A bit. 😉 If you’re looking for something to sink your teeth into, you should definitely go check this one out!
You can buy Hush here: