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River Road by Suzanne  Johnson
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*** Be sure to visit on Monday, 19 Nov, for a guest post from author Suzanne Johnson and a chance to win a signed copy of River Road!***

I really enjoyed Suzanne Johnson’s debut novel Royal Street, but I think that River Road was even better. The characters were great and the plot was fast-paced and twisty. It kept me guessing until the end! This book left just enough threads loose that I am already anticipating the next installment in this series.
River Road picks up three years after Royal Street and Hurricane Katrina. Drusilla Jaco (DJ) has been assigned as the co-sentinel of New Orleans; she’s a Green Congress wizard which means she doesn’t have a lot of offensive magic. To appease the ruling wizards, Alex Warin is helping her out as an enforcer when things get rough.

DJ owes Jean Lafitte a favor and he has decided to call the marker in for (1) help solving a dispute between two mer clans and (2) a honest to goodness date. DJ has no problem jumping into the mer problem, but the date is another matter entirely. She knows Alex won’t be happy, but she’s actually looking forward to it somewhat. Jean has a much larger role in this book and his interactions with DJ were pretty hilarious. I think he is genuinely interested in courting her, but I just don’t see it working out. Oh, did I mention Jean is a ghost?

While investigating the mers’ pollution issue, two Green Congress wizards are found dead. DJ and Alex now have to add this mystery to their plates and figure out if it is connected to the mer issues. Alex’s cousin Jake has gone through training now that he is a loup-garou and he also becomes part of the investigation team. DJ’s dance card is starting to get full because Jake wants to pick up where they left off three years ago and start casually dating again. The biggest question is whether or not he has mastered the wolf within himself. If not, he may be putting DJ in danger. As if that wasn’t enough, Alex has started making suggestions that he wants to take his relationship with DJ out of the friends’ zone. Poor DJ is seriously confused!

I have to say that I am Team Alex after this book. I still like both Jake and Jean, but Alex has stolen my heart. He and DJ just fit together so well and I know he will always be there when she needs him. I’m not saying that Jake or Jean couldn’t make a last minute rally, but as of this book, I am hoping for a DJ and Alex pairing.

On top of the investigations and her romantic confusions, DJ also has to deal with the elves. They’ve learned about her elven staff and they want to know more about her. The wizards are protecting her from them as much as they can, but I smell a confrontation coming in the next book.

DJ has grown a lot from the first book, and she can take care of herself and deal with her own problems much easier now. She is level-headed and reacts well in a crisis, but still has her weaknesses. She has created a good support group for herself and has learned that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. She still makes some rash decisions, but I can respect that because she is trying to prove that she is capable of holding her own in the face of a crisis.

I loved all the new characters we were introduced to, especially the mers. This world is so richly described and its inhabitants uniquely detailed that it is easy to imagine yourself as a part of it. I loved the way this book ended; it set up the next installment perfectly. I have enjoyed both visits to Ms. Johnson’s New Orleans and I cannot wait for the next one!

Thank you to Ms. Suzanne Johnson and Tor Books for providing an ARC copy of this book!
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10/28/2012 page 50
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