Review: Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson


 

Title: Royal Street

Author: Suzanne Johnson

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ’s boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters.

While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now, the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering the soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerry has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and for the serial killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter gumbo.


Review:

Royal Street has been on my TBR mountain for a long time, so I jumped at the opportunity to host a spot on Suzanne Johnson’s blog tour.  New Orleans is a great setting for books, especially urban fantasy reads, and I admit that I’m fascinated by the city and it’s history.  I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting yet, but it’s on my list of places to visit.  Setting the story after Hurricane Katrina just made it that much more appealing to me.  That big, scary storm caused so much damage, why couldn’t it have ruptured the borders to another dimension?  I’m totally buying into that!

Drusilla Jaco, AKA DJ, is a junior sentinel for New Orleans.  She controls green magic, which is kind of weak and lame compared to her mentor’s.  Gerry is a powerful wizard, and he can do things that DJ can only dream about.  Light a candle with the flick of a finger?  It’s a snap for Gerry.  Banish nasty paranormal critters back to the Beyond?  No problem with that, either.  What DJ wants is to test her wings and prove that she is capable of more than the menial tasks Gerry sends her on.  The story starts with her confronting Jean Lafitte, in the bayou.  If she can send him back where he belongs, maybe Gerry will give her more important tasks. 

Her first assignment starts to go sour, but DJ proves that she’s a quick thinker and that she’s also clever and resourceful.  She also pisses off Lafitte, and he menaces her for the rest of the book.  I loved him.  He had more personality than any of the other males characters, and I found myself hoping that DJ and Lafitte would hook up.  Their tense, charged encounter so early in the novel spoiled me for her relationships with Alex and Jake.  Unfortunately.

When Katrina rumbles into town, DJ is ordered by Gerry to evacuate.  DJ  needs to be safe, just in case something happens to Gerry.  Gerry is the major force keeping the dangerous  beings that live in the Beyond right where they belong.  Though DJ believes the storm will blow over, just like all the rest have, she obeys and crashes with her grandmother.  When the storm obliterates the city she loves, DJ just wants to get back home and make sure that Gerry and her friends are all right.  When Gerry disappears without a trace, she is frantic to find him.  When the wizard Elders believe that Gerry’s a traitor, DJ is determined to prove them wrong, even if it means risking her life to prove his innocence. 

Overall, I enjoyed Royal Street, but there were times when I was so frustrated with DJ.  I just don’t understand why these bright, intelligent women constantly turn off their common sense and go skipping into danger with hardly a second thought.  Again and again and again.   This is one of my biggest pet peeves with PNR and UF.  The heroines are in such a hurry to solve whatever mystery they are confronted with that they cease to think things through.  When everyone you know tells you to hunker down or you will die, I think that you need to listen every now and again, but maybe that is attributed to my cautious nature.

I didn’t find the relationship with Alex or Jake very compelling, but Jean Lafitte spoiled me for other men.  He’s a pirate, for goodness sakes!  It’s hard to compete with that!  Mix in his apparent immortality, and, wowzies!  I want DJ to bring out the noble man that I know must be hiding under that rakish pirate attire.  I’m not saying that Alex and Jake are 100% chopped liver, because they’re not.  Jake, the wounded Marine who now runs a bar, did have some appeal, and Alex, an uber alpha, gun-toting enforcer, would have been more interesting to me if not for the presence of Lafitte.  I dig pirates! So sue me.

I found the pacing occasionally ponderous, but when the action clicked into gear, things really rocked.  The ending, in particular, was a blast, and kept me turning the pages in rapid succession.  DJ was just starting to come into her own, and I’m curious to see where the story goes next. 

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

Spotlight! Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

Today we’re celebrating Suzanne Johnson’s Royal Street.  This is the first book in her Sentinels of New Orleans series.  I love reading about New Orleans, and this book begins just prior to Hurricane Katrina, and it follows Drusilla Jaco’s, otherwise known as, DJ, misadventures after the storm.  Her mentor is missing, she has managed to piss off Jean Lafitte, and a minor voodoo god has a bounty on her head.  If that’s not enough to keep her busy, her new partner, a ruthless, gun-toting enforcer, is convinced that her mentor has gone rogue and he’s determined to track him down.  Check back in a bit for my review of Royal Street, but for now, enjoy this excerpt from the book.

EXCERPT- ROYAL STREET by SUZANNE JOHNSON

Friday, August 26, 2005

Once [Tropical Storm Katrina] moved over the gulf today, it was expected to wheel north, pick up speed and hit the Florida Panhandle on Sunday.”

The New York Times

CHAPTER 1

A secluded Louisiana bayou. A sexy pirate. Seduction and deceit. My Friday afternoon had the makings of a great romantic adventure, at least in theory.

In practice, angry mosquitoes were using me for target practice, humidity had ruined any prayer of a good hair day, and the pirate in question?the infamous Jean Lafitte?was two-hundred years old, armed, and carrying a six-pack of Paradise condoms in assorted fruit flavors.

I wasn’t sure what unnerved me more—the fact that the historical undead had discovered erotic accessories, or that Lafitte felt the need to practice safe sex.

Nothing about the pirate looked safe. Tall and broad-shouldered, he had dark blue eyes and a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth as he watched me set two glasses and a bottle of dark rum on a rickety wooden table. A tanned, muscular chest peeked from his open-collared shirt, and shaggy dark hair framed a clean-shaven face. A jagged scar across his jaw reminded me the so-called gentleman pirate also had his ruthless side.

He’d arrived by way of a stolen boat at this isolated cabin near Delacroix, a half-hour outside New Orleans, to pursue two of the world’s most timeless pleasures: sex and money. I’d met him here to play the role of a gullible young wizard falling under the spell of the legendary pirate, at least for a while. Then I’d do my duty as deputy sentinel and send his swashbuckling hide back to the Beyond, where he could rub shoulders with other undead legends and preternatural creatures unfit for polite human company.

My hand shook as I poured the rum, sloshing a few drops of amber liquid over the side of the glass. I’d finally been given a serious assignment, and I needed it to go without a hitch.

Lafitte’s fingers brushed mine as he took the drink, sending an unexpected rush of energy up my arm. “Merci, Mademoiselle Jaco—or may I call you Drusilla?”

Actually, I’d prefer he didn’t call me anything. Despite his obvious hopes for the evening, this wasn’t a date. “Most people call me DJ.”

“Bah,” he said, taking a sip of rum. “Those are alphabet letters, not a name.”

From beneath the red sash that accented his waist, Lafitte pulled a modern semiautomatic handgun and set it on the table next to the rum bottle. I knew how he’d gotten it—he’d rolled the Tulane student that summoned him, lifted the kid’s wallet and iPod, rode the streetcar to Canal Street, and made a trade for the gun. Enterprising guy, Lafitte.

I pondered the odd spike of energy I’d gotten from his hand. Touching increases the emotional crap I absorb from people as an empath, but Lafitte was technically a dead guy. Still, I’d like to say if he touched me again, I’d demand double pay from the wizards’ Congress of Elders. Triple if it involved lips.

But who was I kidding? My bargaining position was nonexistent. My boss Gerry only sent me on this run because he had something else to do and knew Lafitte might respond to my questionable seduction skills.

I’d pulled my unruly blonde hair out of its usual ponytail for the occasion, loaded on some makeup to play up my teal eyes, and poured myself into a little black skirt, short enough to show off my legs while not offending Lafitte’s nineteenth-century sensibilities.

It must have worked, because the pirate was giving me that head-to-toe appraisal guys do on instinct, like they’re assessing a juicy slab of beef and deciding whether they want it rare, medium, or well-done.

“You really are lovely, Drusilla.” The timbre of Lafitte’s voice shivered down my spine, and I fought the urge to check out the biceps underneath that linen shirt.

Holy crap. This was just wrong. I should not be absorbing his lust.

Royal Street

Sentinels of New Orleans Book One

Suzanne Johnson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Tor Books

ISBN: 978-0765327796

ASIN: B006OM459U

Number of pages: 337

Word Count: approx. 94,000

Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen

Amazon Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Book Description:

As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ’s boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters. While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerald St. Simon has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and the killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter roux.

River Road

Sentinels of New Orleans, Book 2
Suzanne Johnson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Tor Books

ISBN: 978-0765327802

ASIN: B00842H5VI

Number of pages: 336

Word Count: approx. 92,000

Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen

Amazon Barnes & Noble

Book Depository Indiebound

Book Description:

Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.

Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.

About the Author:

Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities.  She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.

Website: www.suzanne-johnson.com

Blog: http://suzanne-johnson.blogspot.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Suzanne_Johnson

FB: http://www.facebook.com/Suzanne.Johnson.author

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5046525.Suzanne_Johnson

Publisher Page: http://us.macmillan.com/author/suzannejohnson

Interview with Susanne Matthews, Author of Fire Angel

Please welcome Susanne Matthews to the virtual offices this morning! Susanne is here to talk about her new release, Fire Angel.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Susanne Matthews] I love to read, write, and travel. I enjoy red and white wine. I believe in love and happily ever after, rather than just happy for now.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Fire Angel?

[Susanne Matthews] Fire Angel is a romance/suspense – think Castle meets Criminal Minds. It’s the story of a deranged killer, bent on revenge for what he perceives as injustices done to him by a variety of people,  and the two professionals, both with personal demons to fight, who team up to stop the maniac and discover love along the way.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Susanne Matthews] The basic idea for the fires came from a series of unsolved arsons in my area over the past few years – fires that destroyed a lot of property and animals as well as one man. The villain is a composite of all the people I’ve met over the years who feel entitled to have whatever they want at any cost. Alexis is patterned after my daughter and her ability to bounce back no matter what life has thrown at her.  Jake has some of my husband and my sons’ qualities. His determination to succeed, his need to protect, his need to prove himself are all aspects of their characters. The fact that he has lost a leg was in response to the sacrifice made by those who fight to protect our country. In war everyone loses something, and not all the wounds are visible.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Alexis?

[Susanne Matthews] Feisty, persistent, resilient

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Jake had a theme song, what would it be?

[Susanne Matthews] I’ll Be There by the Jackson Five.  It’s an old song, but if you read the lyrics, it’s exactly the kind of man he is. He’ll be there for Alexis, no matter what.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Alexis is never without.

[Susanne Matthews] A flashlight; she’s afraid of the dark and has been ever since the attempt on her life the previous year.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Jake’s bedroom?

[Susanne Matthews] A cat; he’s a dog person;  a picture from his time in Afghanistan;  and scatter rugs—too easy to trip over when he’s tired.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Alexis’s greatest regret?

[Susanne Matthews] That no one ever discovered why her parents’ plane crashed. She never got the answers she needed.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Susanne Matthews] I get ideas from all kinds of things; I’m very much a people watcher. I hate waiting, so if I can’t read while I do, I weave stories around things I see or stuff I might hear. I got hooked on romance novels in my teens—especially historical novels based almost anywhere in any time. When I read Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier, I discovered a love for romance mysteries. I found Nora Roberts after that, and she inspires me every time I read or re-read one of her novels.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Susanne Matthews] Something to drink—coffee, water, mint tea, my computer, and an idea; since I’m a pantser, once I have the idea, I’m good to go.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Susanne Matthews] Spellbound by Nora Roberts – I love the way she wove the present, the past and the magic together. I’d like to write a book like that one day.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Susanne Matthews] One would be hard to pick, but I guess I’d have to go with Nancy Drew and The Witch Tree Symbol. After that I devoured all the Nancy Drew books I could find.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Susanne Matthews] Like most other writers, I read, but I also enjoy the summer months when I can garden, go camping and canoeing with my husband and sit by the campfire and enjoy a glass of wine. I like to travel, and hope to be able to do more of that in the future. I also enjoy spending time with my grand-children.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Susanne Matthews] Website: http://www.mhsusannematthews.ca

Twitter: @jandsmatt

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/susanne.l.matthews

Blog:   http://mhsusannematthews.wordpress.com

Email: mhsusannematthews@gmail.com

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase Fire Angel from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below:

About the book:

A malicious serial killer is out for revenge in Paradise. Using fire as his weapon, he strikes at random, and the bodies are piling up.

Criminal profiler Jake McKenzie has returned from Afghanistan minus a leg and afraid to trust his instincts. When the police ask for his expertise in identifying the killer, he agrees knowing this is his chance to prove he can still do the job.

Sixteen years ago, fiercely independent Alexis Michaels escaped an abusive uncle and a deadly fire to become one of the country’s top fire and arson investigators. Her uncanny ability to put herself in the arsonist’s place is the skill they need to find this maniac. She reluctantly accepts the assignment and returns home to lead the hunt for the killer, knowing she will have to confront the unpleasant memories.

When Jake discovers that his new partner is the girl who haunted his dreams all these years, he finds himself enthralled, but memories of his dead wife make him doubt his emotions. Alexis has few pleasant memories of Paradise, but Jake is one of them. Undeniably drawn to him, she longs for a deeper relationship but believes he isn’t ready to move on yet.

Until they catch the killer, they must set aside their conflicted emotions and work together. The clock is ticking, and the killer has made it clear: Alexis is next.

Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors

Check out Crimson Romances Fire Angel page here: http://www.crimsonromance.com/upcoming-releases-romance-ebook/fire-angel/