Hush ~ Tal Bauer
Updated: Mar 9
“I want to live. I want to be me.”
Hush is part political thriller, part court drama, and all epic romance. Tal Bauer weaves an enthralling tale of an attempted political assassination that has the potential to start the next World War, and the court trial that will determine the fate of nations, in the hands of a ‘baby’ Federal judge who has only held the position a year.
Running alongside and throughout is the story of Tom Brewer, newly appointed Federal judge. A gay man, firmly closeted for 25 years after a traumatic experience in college, who before the events of this story, begins to believe that maybe, just maybe, he can stick a toe out of the closet; preferably with Mike Lucciano, the US Marshall assigned as his security at the courthouse.
Tom and Mike’s relationship had barely started before the assassination attempt. From there the book is a rollercoaster ride of political implications, court room arguments and misdirection, and ultimately an ending involving parties I never saw coming.
This is quite a large book at around 475 pages, but it doesn’t feel like it. It is a highly complex story, and just when you feel like something is coming to a head, something else crops up and the story goes in another direction. It’s not heavy though, there is enough humour to keep it light, and the romance and relationship building between Mike and Tom is emotionally intense, romantic, and simply swoonworthy.
The author has this ability to create MCs who are strong, resilient, sometimes physically imposing and/or highly trained, but who are genuinely nice guys who are not so macho to refuse to admit they have feelings. Both Tom and Mike are amazing characters. Tom was so traumatized by what happened to him, his moments of panic and confusion are understandable, but at the same time he is so strong and resilient, and once he has Mike by his side, he is happy to embrace the future.
For me though, Mike stole the show. He has searched for Tom his whole life, and when he finally realizes what he’s got – he freaks! This was actually a funny (but also sad) part of the book, it’s not the closeted judge with so much to lose (so he thinks) that backs off, but the outwardly and open gay man who is suddenly terrified that he’s finally found his Prince Charming. Once he is talked off the ledge by his best friend, he’s all in, and he is such a sweetheart! When Tom is under pressure from all sides, he is not only Tom’s physical protection, but he provides the mental and emotional comfort and care that Tom needs to keep his sanity.
Hush is the first book in an unofficial duology. Technically they can be read independently of each other, but after reading Hush I would certainly recommend reading it before jumping into Whisper. In Hush, we are introduced to Kris Caldera, one of the MCs in Whisper, and we learn he is a CIA operative, and a widower who is still mourning the love of his life, David. I’ve been advised that Whisper takes place both before Hush and after it. I was intrigued by Kris, as I believe the front that he is showing at this stage, is very different from his true character, and I can’t wait to see that unfold in Whisper!
Also, no review involving Hush is complete without a shout out to Etta Mae, Tom’s Basset Hound. She is a glorious character, who injects quite a bit of everyday humour into the story.
I absolutely adored my time living in the world and characters of Hush, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good suspense with a strong and satisfying romance.
This is only my second book by Tal Bauer, but he has already landed a place on my favourite ‘one-click’ author list.