Title: Royal Street
Author: Suzanne Johnson
May Contain Spoilers
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.
Review copy provided by publisher