Friday, May 06, 2016

Release Day Review: Hexbreaker (Hexworld #1) by Jordan L. Hawk

13015607_1370133249678829_6993860665927311979_nTitle ~ Hexbreaker

Author ~ Jordan L. Hawk

Published ~ 6th May 2016

Genre ~ Paranomal Historical M/M Romance

Rating

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Synopsis

Will a dark history doom their future together?
New York copper Tom Halloran is a man with a past. If anyone finds out he once ran with the notorious O’Connell tunnel gang, he’ll spend the rest of his life doing hard time behind bars. But Tom’s secret is threatened when a horrible murder on his beat seems to have been caused by the same ancient magic that killed his gang.
Cat shifter Cicero is determined to investigate the disappearance of one friend and the death of another, even though no one else believes the cases are connected. When the trail of his investigation crosses Tom’s, the very bohemian Cicero instinctively recognizes the uncultured Irish patrolman as his witch. Though they’re completely unsuited to one another, Cicero has no choice but to work alongside Tom…all the while fighting against the passion growing within.
Tom knows that taking Cicero as his familiar would only lead to discovery and disaster. Yet as the heat between them builds, Tom’s need for the other man threatens to overcome every rational argument against becoming involved.
But when their investigation uncovers a conspiracy that threatens all of New York, Tom must make the hardest decision of his life: to live a lie and gain his heart’s desire, or to confess the truth and sacrifice it all.

Alan’s Review

It’s a cause for celebration! Jordan Hawk has now officially launched a brand new series, “Hexworld”, and it looks like it’s going to be another foray into the strange, creative mind of one of the best authors of gay paranormal literature writing today. The celebrated author of the wildly popular Whyborne & Griffin and Spectr series is doing what she does best, mixing up a heady recipe of the paranormal, the violent and monstrous forces putting the world at risk, all leavened with a bit of time twisting and more than a dash of love and attraction of the gay sort.

Ms. Hawk’s latest book deals with the same elements, but in a very different way. Where Whyborne & Griffin is about the occult and Spectr about ancient forces that have always walked the land cheek-to-jowl with what we know as the “real world”, “Hexbreaker” resides in an alternative world and time. It’s an amalgam of the old and new, a New York in which there are two police forces: the “regular one” and the “Metropolitan Witch Police”, competing agencies, one dealing with normal everyday crimes, from theft to murder, the other dedicated to addressing crime and rule-breaking of the magical kind. In Ms. Hawk’s reimagined world, witches and magic are everywhere, protecting almost every home and business (sort of magical insurance), empowering success, preventing and curing illness, and helping people find love or excel at sports. In fact, witchcraft is an essential component of the economy of the world, a world that’s almost steampunk - Victorian times without the steam, an earlier New York of immigrants and ethnic enclaves.

She’s even created a cosmology of witches and their familiars. “Familiars” are those remarkable beasts who effortlessly shift between animal and human form, destined to bond with one particular witch (assuming the two can find each other) and once together, create and control an enormous amount of magic. Alone, each is less than they might be. Together, they’re almost unbeatable. Familiars without witches (ferals) are considered a lesser caste and treated with less than the respect they deserve, so there’s a dynamic, that never lets up, in which unattached witches and unbonded familiars perform a dance that will be familiar to anyone who’s ever been in a gay bar (or singles bar) at last call on a Friday night.

Then there are those “normal” people who show no magical aptitude or talent. They make up the bulk of the population, and though they cannot create magic, they can always hire a witch or commission a hex to get whatever they need. “Hexbreaker” is the story of one supposed “normal”, a regular beat cop with a stunning, powerful body, and a tendency to lead people to believe he’s straight and rather crude, not to mention not all that bright. In fact, he’s rather sensitive, smart (though uneducated), a cop beloved in his neighborhood for his big caring heart, effective policing and uncompromising honesty. This good man, this credit to the police department, Tom Halloran, is the polar opposite of Cicero, the cat-familiar, who is a graceful, sure-footed and clever cat in animal form, a stylish, elegant, sexy young investigator for the Witch police in his human guise. They’re thrown together by their respective services when a couple of people, otherwise normal, suddenly turn into vicious beasts, not just killing, but ripping their victims apart with their teeth. One of them was on Tom’s beat, the other associated with Cicero’s best familiar-friend, who has gone missing. Only these two believe that it’s not just a sudden attack of insanity that drove these crimes, but magic.

In fact, Tom knows it was magic because he’s seen it before. Tom is not whom he appears to be. In his youth, he was steeped in witchcraft and crime. Oh, he’s still a great guy, a moral man, a man determined to do good and be fair, but it’s not that easy to escape one’s family, is it? And as for him being normal? Well, though he appears to be straight, he’s not. Nor is he without magic, though he has worked all his adult life to escape it, to hide whom he really is, the rarest kind of witch, a hexbreaker, a witch who can break the spells that others cast. Tom can undo anything that any other witch puts in place, which makes him valuable indeed.

Though all of Tom’s documents portray him as entirely without any aptitude for magic, Cicero knows better. A familiar can recognize its witch from miles away and, although Cicero finds Tom uncivilized and crude, he can’t escape the growing attraction he feels for the “regular” cop. I’m sure you can figure out where this is going. Destiny cannot be denied, even when the process of coming together is fraught with obstacles, miscommunication and danger at every turn. Our dynamic duo ends up being perhaps the only ones who can save New York from an unthinkable fate, a tragedy of enormous scale and horror.

Despite the over-the-top and anachronistic setting, a huge amount of shifting, hexing and un-hexing going on all around them, Ms. Hawk manages to keep the affection, the growing love between the two at a human level, even though at least one of them is not entirely human. And that is the secret of Ms. Hawk’s genius – she manages to make the unbelievable and improbable authentic by imbuing her characters with the most human and familiar emotions, dreams, strengths and weaknesses. She makes you care about the most unlikely people in the most extraordinary circumstances - she makes you root for them, she makes your heart skip a beat with both their fear and their passion, and she makes you want to desperately come back for the next installment. She spins a world you never want to leave.

I do recommend “Hexbreaker” to one and all, Jordan Hawk fan or not. But be warned, her books can be terribly addictive. You can really miss the inventive characters and settings she creates, and even experience withdrawal symptoms after turning the last page of one of her books. But don’t worry, there’s always another one in the works, and each one promises an exciting new journey back into the fantastical, magical world of Jordan L. Hawk.

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