I've tried to find it a few times by Google, no luck. I read it at my public library once in highschool (15 years ago?), it was in the fantasy section, right in the middle so I assume the author was somewhere in the middle of the alphabet. It's a small library so they get rid of books that aren't read much.There was only the one book at the library but it may have been part of a series. It was hard cover, the book jacket was pale - tan with purple or something .
Plot: this group of women, one of the main characters in charge, meets with this group of male soldiers, the leader of which is the other main character. They might be mercenaries. One group is being hired by the other or it's a mutually beneficial deal. Its a secret meeting.
At some point there's a ship wreck. I have this really vivid scene of a storm, and a cliff with this outcropping of rock on it. They string a rope to this outcropping and everyone is shimmying up the rope to safety from the ship, but the rope wears through and breaks. The lead lady wraps the ends around her hands and uses herself as the anchor on the rock, but of course the men are heavy and the rope cuts her hands horribly before they're all across.
And there's somehow a bird involved, a falcon or other bird of prey, but I don't remember how.
Edit: Trying to do my due diligence here for the post. I know I've looked up authors from the middle section of the fantasy section in the past to see if I could stumble on the correct book, one of them being Andre Norton. So I'm going through Goodreads again and I'm looking at a book that actually, might be it? Maybe? Anyone read what is apparently a sub-series of hers including the book called Storms of Victory? The second book in that book ( /novella? Who designed this book?) sounds a bit like the beginning of the book I'm trying to find...