3.5 stars. I have a hard time articulating my thoughts on this one, because it's not really romance novel shaped. Most of the relationship drama occurs in flashback, and the bits in the present of the novel are what would normally be a crisis and denouement. However, there's a mystery in the present that has a whole arc, with roots in some of the flashback bits but mostly taking place in the present. If that makes any sense whatsoever. So this book didn't read like the typical romance novel, which throws off my ability to make a judgement.I love Hawker. He was my favorite character in Bourne's previous novels, so I was thrilled to read his story. I liked Justine too. However, for someone who, we are repeatedly told, is an awesome, kickass, independent spy lady, she defers to Hawker way too much. Anytime they're together, he's the one being clever and figuring things out and calling the shots on their course of action, and that was not cool with me. But...it was Hawker, and I still love him.I also, I must confess, hate extended flashbacks. I didn't particularly enjoy Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, largely for that reason. I would probably have loved this book if it had been told in proper chronological order. The resulting novel would have been even less romance novel shaped than this one, since the flashbacks date back to when Justine and Hawker were in their early teens, but there was plenty of spy drama and derring do, which I love.Overall, I hoped for better than this for Hawker's story, but Joanna Bourne is still one of my favorite romance authors--no one can match her for exciting plot in the realm of historical romance.