Every now and then I read a series that takes me by surprise, steals my heart or flat out blows me away. Sometimes it’s paranormal romance, sometimes it’s urban fantasy and once in a while it might even be steampunk, regardless of their genre they all deliver. When I find theses rare jewels, I can’t help but read one book after the other…so I got to thinking (can you smell the wood burning?…haha): Why not spread the world and share these great series with fellow book lovers?…
And that’s how my Romancing the Series feature was born. I hope you stick around, enjoy my thoughts and share your own with me…
Urban fantasy has become my second favorite genre to read, paranormal romance being number one. If there’s a smart and determined heroine and at least one hot Alpha male involved I’m sold! I was drawn to the series by the first book’s beautiful cover (yes, sometimes I judge a book by its cover!) but was not ready for the spectacular story and world Ms. Johnson has created in the Sentinels of New Orleans series.
The story revolves around the heroine, Drusilla Jaco aka DJ, a novice wizard sentinel who’s specializes in banishing supernatural rogues and protecting the city of New Orleans. Mixing reality, history and the supernatural all into one of the most famous cities is a unique element that really makes this series shine. An intricately weaved story with phenomenal characters kept me turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning – a must read for urban fantasy fans!
Sentinels of New Orleans
Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published by: Tor Books on April 10, 2012
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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.
Title: River Road by Suzanne Johnson
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans #2
Published by Tor Books on November 13, 2012
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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’ve found another fave heroine in DJ!
As a wizard in training for the sentinels of New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job is never dull and often dangerous. DJ is just coming into her powers and learning the ropes of becoming a sentinel when her mentor goes missing and her beloved city is hit with a hurricane that will change her life and city forever. Faced with finding her longtime friend and protector Gerald St. Simon, assigned to a new and sexy partner all while a rogue undead pirate is on her tail and a serial killer is on the loose, DJ must find her inner strength and power to save and her friends and city from the supernatural world.
ROYAL STREET introduces us to DJ and her life as a junior wizard in the city of New Orleans right before the infamous hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc and devastation to the beautiful city. Incorporating little accounts of Katrina into the plot could have been a risky move on the author’s part, but it was beautifully executed without making light of the real tragedy. Choosing New Orleans as the setting to this magical world infused with the supernatural was brilliant, the rich history, along with its mixed culture and religious influences offer the perfect playground for the paranormal. Where else could you have Marie Laveau and Louis Armstrong as supporting characters?!
“I felt like Alice, but I’d slid down the rabbit hole past Wonderland and straight into hell.”
While there’s not a ton of action from beginning to end, the element of mystery is constant and keeps you engaged, that along with the semi-love triangle that presents itself are enough to keep you turning the pages. The characters are full of charisma and wit that keeps has you laughing out loud at times, even with all the devastation and danger lurking. Murder, magic, betrayal and sacrifice come together in Royal Street to deliver a spectacular debut in a series!
RIVER ROAD begins about three years after Royal Street, post-Katrina, where we find DJ has assumed the role of sentinel of New Orleans with her shape shifter enforcer partner Alex by her side. Having the veil between our world and the Beyond weakened by hurricane Katrina has increased supernatural activity in New Orleans and kept the sentinels quite busy. When wizards begin to turn up dead and the waters of the Mississippi are threatened by poison, DJ and Alex are back to work to with an unlikely team: undead pirate Jean Lafitte and newly turned loup garou enforcer Jake, to uncover the mastermind behind the crimes.
I must say this sequel exceeded my expectations! I was a fan of DJ and the gang from the beginning but Ms. Johnson’s writing had me glued to my ereader and sneaking in chapters whenever I had the chance. There’s a lot more action this time around and DJ is more confident and mature. We are also introduced to some new supernaturals: mermen and nymphs who add a bit of mischief to the mix. While I didn’t get enough of the sexual tension between DJ and Alex I wanted, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Ms. Johnson has more in store for these two in the future.
While DJ doesn’t exactly fit the profile of the butt-kicking heroines we’re exposed to in most books of the urban fantasy genre, she still worthy of the title. She’s inexperienced, a little nerdy (I mean the girl owns Harry Potter pjs…a girl after my own heart…LOL) instead of sexy and not what I’d call a strong fighter, but I think that’s what made me connect with her. I thank the author for giving us a leading lady that’s flawed and trying to find herself instead of a gorgeous, feisty fighter (not that there’s anything wrong with this combo either!). DJ is a fighter in her own right, her smarts and sense of humor get her pretty far on her own….but what heroine is complete without some muscle behind her? Enter the men of Sentinels of New Orleans series…
Potential Love Interest #1: Alex Warin, the smart-ass, tough enforcer (and shifter) who is insanely attracted to DJ but refuses to give in to his feelings.
“Until you stop dating the undead Pirate Of The Caribbean, you have no room to laugh.”
Potential Love Interest #2: Jake Warin, Alex’s cousin and once human now turned loup garou (werewolf) who can’t keep his paws off of DJ…literally!
“Sometimes, after an absence, people look smaller or plainer than memory has built them up to be. Not Jake. His wiry frame had bulked up in a good way, and he still had the shaggy, sun-kissed blond hair and amber eyes that had made my heart speed up. I hadn’t seen the killer dimples yet, but I knew they were under that stubble somewhere.”
Potential Love Interest #3: Jean Lafitte, centuries old historically dead pirate who’s as dangerous as he is sexy and lives to flirt and tempt DJ ever chance he gets.
“Taking on Jean Lafitte as a devious, oversexed roommate? I’d sooner move in with Hannibal Lecter and a pot of fava beans.”
All these men have their charms and while the banter between them and DJ is entertaining, I’m glad I’m not in her shoes if I had these alphas to choose from! Each relationship shows a different side of DJ but I must say I’m leaning towards Team Alex. Their partnership has grown into a friendship that I can see blossoming into a great romance. Alex and DJ are a great team, she’s the brains and he’s the muscle but there are times that the roles are reversed and our heroine steps in to rescue the hero. I love a well written love triangle, and while this might be more of a love-square, I don’t fault DJ for her confusion when it comes to these men.
I can go on about my love for this book and series but risk giving away too much. The world and character development is phenomenal. From magical hierarchy to preternatural beings, River Road shines even brighter than it’s prequel with an epic ending that will leave you speechless!
The Sentinels of New Orleans is a fresh and fun new urban fantasy that you’ll instantly fall in love with!
RtDS Recommends: If I had to describe this series I’d say it’s reminiscent of Rachel Morgan in the Hollows series with a Sookie Stackhouse southern feel, minus the heavy romance. DJ might not be as kick-ass as other heroines in this genre, but her sarcasm and drive to survive will win you over!