Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review: River Road by Suzanne Johnson

Author: Suzanne Johnson
Title: River Road
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans, Book 2
Publication: November 13, 2012
Publisher: Tor books
Genre:  Adult Urban Fantasy /Paranormal
Source: Author via Blog Tour
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.
I can't hate on a girl with options and DJ has three gorgeous men vying for her heart. Alex is the hot shape-shifter and her co-sentinel that has feeling for her but they've agreed to remain professional. Jake, Alex's cousin and a loup garou in the beginning made no attempts to hide his interest in DJ but after the change has serious issues maintaining control over his wolf. The historical undead pirate Jean Lafitte is as open about his wanting her and will blur the lines between mixing business with pleasure, if it gets him closer to her. Each guy oozes with masculine charm and mystery. DJ in all her attempts to keep it together becomes flustered and flabbergasted by the amount of attention she’s getting lately but she doesn't have time to sort out how she feels as her job brings her the task of stopping a possible mermen war, a strange water contamination issue and a perplexing murder scene. She has her hands full attempting to connect the dots and wondering if somehow these events are related somehow. As she races to fix the mess that's being made in the Louisiana waters, DJ starts pondering the complexities of her heart and which guy she truly desires. Can she manage sentinel politics alongside her seemingly blooming social life?

This story begins three years after Hurricane Katrina and the death of DJ's mentor and father, Gerry. She still hasn't figured out how to use the staff with her wizard abiities without creating chaos. However, DJ hopes to prove to the Elders that she is capable of working as sentinel on her own without Alex and a little pay raise wouldn't hurt either. I liked the flow of this story and the details Johnson gives of a Louisiana recovering from devastation along with the spirit of the community. The characters are fantastic, if given the choice, I wouldn't be able to pick between Alex, Jake or Jean....well I'm leaning more towards Alex but DJ's interactions with each guy is different yet engaging. LOVE them! DJ makes for an interesting heroine; she has enough vulnerability in combination with tenacity and sheer will to succeed. Overall, the world that the author has created is believable, realistic and an entertaining looking forward to book three. 
3 1/2 stars

The minute hand of the ornate grandfather clock crept like a gator stuck in swamp mud. I’d been watching it for half an hour, nursing a fizzy cocktail from my perch inside the Hotel Monteleone. The plaque on the enormous clock claimed it had been hand- carved of mahogany in 1909, about 130 years after the birth of the undead pirate waiting for me upstairs. 
  They were both quite handsome, but the clock was a lot safer.
  The infamous Jean Lafitte had expected me at seven. He’d summoned me to his French Quarter hotel suite by courier like I was one of his early nineteenth-century wenches, and I hated to destroy his pirate-king delusions, but the historical undead don’t summon wizards. We summon them.
  I’d have blown him off if my boss on the Congress of Elders hadn’t ordered me to comply and my co-sentinel, Alex, hadn’t claimed a prior engagement.
  At seven thirty, I abandoned my drink, took a deep breath, and marched through the lobby toward the bank of elevators.
  On the long dead-man-walking stroll down the carpeted hallway, I imagined all the horrible requests Jean might make. He’d saved my life a few years ago, after Hurricane Katrina sent the city into freefall, and I hadn’t seen him since. I’d been desperate at the time. I might have promised him unfettered access to modern New Orleans in exchange for his assistance. I might have promised him a place to live. I might have promised him things I don’t even remember. In other words, I might be totally screwed.
  I reached the door of the Eudora Welty Suite and knocked, reflecting that Jean Lafitte probably had no idea who Eudora Welty was, and wouldn’t like her if he did. Ms. Welty had been a modern sort of woman who wouldn’t hop to attention when summoned by a scoundrel.
  He didn’t answer immediately. I’d made him wait, after all, and Jean lived in a tit- for- tat world. I paused a few breaths and knocked harder. Finally, he flung open the door, waving me inside to a suite plush with tapestries of peach and royal blue, thick carpet that swallowed the narrow heels of my pumps, and a plasma TV he couldn’t possibly know how to operate. What a waste. 
  “You have many assets, Drusilla, but apparently a respect for time is not among them.” Deep, disapproving voice, French accent, broad shoulders encased in a red linen shirt, long dark hair pulled back into a tail, eyes such a cobalt blue they bordered on navy. And technically speaking, dead. 
   He was as sexy as ever.
  “Sorry.” I slipped my hand in my skirt pocket, fingering the small pouch of magic-infused herbs I carried at all times. My mojo bag wouldn’t help with my own perverse attraction to the man, but it would keep my empathic abilities in check. If he still had a perverse attraction to me, I didn’t want to feel it. 
  He eased his six-foot-two frame into a sturdy blue chair and slung one long leg over the arm as he gave me a thorough eyeraking, a ghost of a smile on his face.
  I perched on the edge of the adjacent sofa, easing back against a pair of plump throw pillows, and looked at him expectantly. I hoped what ever he wanted wouldn’t jeopardize my life, my job, or my meager bank account.
  “You are as lovely as ever, Jolie,” Jean said, trotting out his pet name for me that sounded deceptively intimate and brought back a lot of memories, most of them bad. “I will forgive your tardiness— perhaps you were late because you were selecting clothing that I would like.” His gaze lingered on my legs. “You chose beautifully.”   
   I’d picked a conservative black skirt and simple white blouse with the aim of looking professional for a business meeting, part of my ongoing attempt to prove to the Elders I was a mature wizard worthy of a pay raise. But this was Jean Lafitte, so I should have worn coveralls. I’d forgotten what a letch he could be.
  “I have a date after our meeting,” I lied. He didn’t need to know said date involved a round carton with the words Blue Bell Ice Cream printed on front. “Why did you want to see me?”
  There, that hadn’t been so difficult—just a simple request. No drama. No threats. No double- entendre. Straight to business. 
  “Does a man need a reason to see a beautiful woman? Especially one who is indebted to him, and who has made him many promises?” A slow smile spread across his face, drawing my eyes to his full lips and the ragged scar that trailed his jawline.
  I might be the empath in the room, but he knew very well that, in some undead kind of way, I thought he was hot.
  I felt my face warming to the shade of a trailer- trash bridesmaid’s dress, one whose color had a name like raging rouge. I’d had a similar reaction when I first met Jean in 2005, two days before a mean hurricane with a sissy name turned her malevolent eye toward the Gulf Coast. I blamed my whole predicament on Katrina, the bitch.
  Her winds had driven the waters of Lake Pontchartrain into the canals that crisscrossed the city, collapsing levees and filling the low, concave metro area like a gigantic soup bowl.
  But NBC Nightly News and Anderson Cooper had missed the biggest story of all: how, after the storm, a mob of old gods, historical undead, and other preternatural victims of the scientific age flooded New Orleans. As a wizard, I’d had a ringside seat. Now, three years later, the wizards had finally reached accords with the major preternatural ruling bodies, and the borders were down, as of two days ago. Jean hadn’t wasted any time.

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.


  1. I have been arguing with Zach for a while that he likes fantasy novels. He finally accepted that he loved Urban Fantasy. With this set in the south and the potential for were-gators, I can see both of us enjoying this series! Also, the cover is gorgeous! Thanks for the review and excerpt. Now, I need to get my hands on the first book.

    1. I love the cover too, the library has the first book.

  2. This book sounds really great. And I love the cover. Loved your review. Thanks :)

    1. Thanks, I love the covers for these vibrant

  3. i can understand the difficulty to choose between those 3 gorgeous men^^ i prefer Jean so far ^^ alex is a little too possessive and controling to my taste ^^ we will see if he can adapt but i understand why DJ doesn't know how to choose one^^

    1. Miki, I like Jean too, it's just so hard to choose one.

  4. I haven't read the first book yet but the plot for book 2 sounds really interesting and I like how the world the author created is believable.

    - Ellie at The Selkie Reads Stories

    1. I liked it and it was a nice change from reading YA

  5. an awesome review , but how many star (rating) for this book ? just wondering hehe

  6. This sounds interesting. I also liked reading the excerpt, which always gives me a good feeling that I will enjoy the writing.


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