Review: Talon by Sybil Bartel

talonTitle: Talon

Author: Sybil Bartel

Year of publication: 2016

The heroine: Nicole Archer

The hero: Ex-marine/Surfboard shop owner Talon Talerco

The blurb: I surf. I f**k. I pretend to smile.

Two years ago my life was perfect, until it wasn’t. I scattered my wife’s ashes then walked away from the Marines. I didn’t think I had anything left to lose.

I was wrong.

The blonde showed up on my doorstep beaten and stabbed. I did what I was trained to do — I stitched her up. I didn’t have a clue who she was and I told myself I didn’t care. Until they came looking for her.

I swore I’d take my last breath before I let anyone else hurt her, except I didn’t know she was keeping a deadly secret. Now I had two choices, her life or mine.

Marriage and combat taught me the same thing — I was no one’s hero. And I was about to prove it.

Standalone or series: Book one in The Uncompromising series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: This series is set in the same universe as the Alpha Escorts series, so if you’ve read that one you’ll recognise a lot of the same supporting characters in this one.

Two years ago, Talon’s wife, Leigh, died. It isn’t explicitly stated how, but I get the impression she committed suicide. Leigh walked out on Talon one day without explanation, divorced him, and then died. Talon has taken her loss heavily, finding solace in any woman who looks in his direction.

When Leigh died, she left him her estate. He knew she came from money, but he had no idea how much until he inherited it. He had enough to buy a house and his surfboard shop without even making a dent in the money. He has an employee, Kendall, a leather wearing smart mouth with ties to the local motorcycle club. She lives with a high ranking member, Candle, and the rumour is that Kendall is his old lady, but there’s a secret there that isn’t revealed in this book (although I suspect we’ll find out in book three, which is about Kendall and Andre Luna). It sounded to me like Kendall is related to Candle somehow, like his secret daughter. She and Talon don’t like each other and do not get along, but Kendall is the best employee he’s ever had so he keeps her.

One morning, Talon discovers Nicole Archer sitting on a wall across the road. He knows who she is; her boyfriend is Randy, an ex-marine, but no friend of Talon’s. When he goes to see why she’s there, he discovers she’s been badly beaten – broken wrist, fractures, bruises, and a massive stab wound up her thigh. Talon, who was a medic, patches her up and insists on taking her to a clinic. For reasons he can’t fathom, he wants to protect her. She is nothing like his late wife in appearance, but he’s drawn to her.

He’s got nicknames for everyone in his life, and he soon dubs her Siren. He realises that getting involved in whatever’s going on between Nicole and Randy can’t be a good thing, but Talon can’t let her walk away and he’s determined to teach Randy a lesson. Everything goes to hell in a handbasket pretty quickly when it’s discovered that not only is Randy part of the same MC Candle is, but he’s also the president’s son. Randy is trying to get back into the MC after having been thrown out years before and his father wants him to work for it, holding leverage over Randy and Nicole.

When Randy shows up to get Nicole back, she goes with him, despite what he did to her. Talon doesn’t understand why and he fights to extract Nicole from the MC. He doesn’t understand why she keeps pushing him away, and she does, over and over. He thinks it’s because she’s trying to protect him, and she is, but there’s something else he doesn’t know about her. When it comes out, he realises he’s in deep over his head, but he gets involved anyway, knowing it could cost him his life, because Nicole is the first woman who has made him feel anything in a very long time.

Both Talon and Nicole are very complex characters. There were times when I wanted to hug them and times when I wanted to shake them hard. Talon is from the south, so he speaks with an accent and has impeccable manners. Nicole is young and stoic and incredibly strong, but I wish she had just told Talon was she was hiding sometimes. He kept finding out in bits and pieces, and it was frustrating for him (and me!).

This book was all from Talon’s POV, unlike the Escort series which alternated between the leads. I liked this, I think it strengthened Talon as a character, but I would have loved to have had a little insight into Nicole’s mind sometimes. The only thing that bugged me (and it wasn’t enough to detract from the book, but I did notice it a lot) was that Talon called Nicole ‘Siren’ for pretty much the whole book. I can understand him having and using a nickname, but I would have preferred Nicole to Siren nine times out of ten. But that’s just a quirk with me.

As with all of Sybil’s books, there is a lot of swearing and violence. It’s explicit and hard core, and some of the themes might be hard for some readers to digest. But stick with it; it’s a book that will leave you thinking for a long time.

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