Review: Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Royal StreetIn the interest of full disclosure, you should know that Suzanne Johnson is one of my critique partners. I’ve read early drafts of the second book in this series – River Road – but I’d never read any of Royal Street until I bought it this month. I am completely in love with Suzanne’s writing – I wouldn’t have exchanged chapters with her every week for the last two years if I wasn’t.

Even knowing that I love her writing and I love these characters, I was blown away by Royal Street.

[The very poorly named] Hurricane Katrina has torn down the barriers between modern New Orleans and the Beyond, which is populated by communities of vampires, faes, weres, and the historical undead (including infamous pirate Jean Lafitte).

D.J. Jaco is a wizard whose mentor goes missing after the hurricane. The Elders – who govern all of these creatures and try to keep humans from knowing about them – assign D.J. a partner to help search for him. Alex Warin is a hot, weapon-wielding enforcer who quickly realizes that D.J.’s magical skills and impetuousness need close watching if she isn’t going to get them both killed.

I’m not an urban fantasy reader, but D.J.’s voice (the story is told in first person) is amazing. She’s at once funny and poignant as she deals with the horrific aftermath of her beloved city’s destruction – something Suzanne experienced first hand.

Royal Street is a novel that sticks with you even after you put it down. I struggled to stop reading last night and woke up early to finish it this morning. I drank it down, and as soon as I finished I immediately reread certain parts (the smoochin’).

Suzanne wrote a post on my blog about keeping a romance going throughout a series, and she does a great job of keeping this particular romance reader totally engaged in the simmering passion between D.J. and…:)

I absolutely loved this novel.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Have you read Royal Street? Do you like series where the romance unfolds over several books?

Winner of the Suzanne Johnson giveaway!

Royal StreetA big thank-you to everyone who commented on Suzanne Johnson’s guest post, Romance at a Slow Simmer: Writing a Series. And, of course, a massive kiss on the cheek to Suz for writing such a thoughtful piece.

The very lucky winner of Royal Street is…Wendy Sparrow! Congratulations!

Wendy, email me your address at romancingkatrina[at]gmail[dot]com

Everyone, this week you could win Roxanne St. Claire’s latest novel, Barefoot in the Sand, the first in a fantastic contemporary romance series. Stop by my interview with Rocki and leave a comment!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Romance at a Slow Simmer: Writing a Series

Suzanne JohnsonThis is a guest post by Suzanne Johnson, my critique partner, friend, and author of the incredible Sentinel of New Orleans series.

Royal Street – the first in the series and Suzanne’s debut novel – came out last week to well-deserved rave reviews. She’s giving away a copy to a very lucky person who leaves a comment here.

I’d never read an urban fantasy novel before meeting Suzanne, but her books are so creative, funny and clever that she’s converted me! (Plus, the men in this series are smokin’ hot! Hands off, ladies – Alex Warin is mine.)

Take it away, Suzanne!

I was in a Houston bookstore for a signing last week, and the store owner had a confession: “I wasn’t sure where to shelve your book,” she told me. “The romance in it is light for paranormal romance, but it has too much romance to be pure urban fantasy.” Finally, she shelved half her copies in romance, and the other half in UF.

It didn’t come as a surprise. The slow-simmering romance you’d expect to be a staple of a series? Usually, it isn’t slow at all. I knew paranormal romance fans might read my recent release and cry foul for undeveloped relationships. I knew urban fantasy fans would grumble about it having too much romance. It’s hard to find a UF series these days where sex isn’t a given in book one, even if true love trails behind.

Royal Street
In Royal Street, the first book of my Sentinel of New Orleans series, my heroine DJ meets some potential suitors. (I should add here that Dj is a wizard.) First is Alex Warin, a big, macho, black-clad kind of monosyllabic guy who’s not nearly as tough as he pretends. There’s a strong attraction between DJ and Alex, but neither quite trusts the other, plus they have to work together, which raises ethical issues that the plot wouldn’t accommodate logically.

And there’s the undead early 19th-century pirate Jean Lafitte. What girl can resist a handsome, rakish pirate, alive or undead?

Then, there’s Jake Warin, Alex’s cousin. DJ likes him immediately—he seems sweet, he seems uncomplicated, he seems easy. Note I say “seems.”

Continue reading “Romance at a Slow Simmer: Writing a Series”

Little man’s complex: short stories that pack a powerful punch

This is cross-posted at The Season.

Taming of Mei LinI love short stories. I studied them in college and some of my all-time favorite authors (like Flannery O’Connor and Angela Carter) wrote brilliant short stories.

I’ve never been a big fan of romance short stories, though—until recently.

Last year I won a copy of Jeannie Lin’s The Taming of Mei Lin. It sucked me right in, and, best of all, I didn’t have to stay up late and go to work bleary-eyed just so I could finish reading it.

Then, recently, the amazing Suzanne Johnson posted a short story on her site. Now, Suzanne’s one of my critique partners and I Chenoire coverget to read her stuff regularly, but her first novel isn’t being published until next year, so her short story Chenoire is a (free!) taster for the rest of you. Let me tell you, the world Suzanne has created is amazing. Think about all the strange things you hear about from the Deep South. Now add fantasy and paranormal characters, and a wicked funny voice. That is the recipe for a Suzanne Johnson story.

After reading the wonderful Chenoire, I discovered Kelly Fitzpatrick was giving away her short story Holiday Hostage.  Kelly is one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter. Every conversation I have with her leaves me clutching my sides. So an opportunity to check out what her writing style’s like? I’m all over that. Holiday Hostage is funny and full of attitude—like Kelly’s tweets, but longer. Even though I never ever ever buy e-books (no e-reader, and I hate reading on my laptop), I bought Kelly’s debut novel Lily in Wonderland. Yep, couldn’t help it. The short story gave me a taste of Kelly’s voice, and I had to have more.

Holiday Hostage coverThree authors. Three vastly different voices and types of story. All awesome. And two of them—Jeannie Lin and Kelly Fitzpatrick—made me fans of their work by tempting me with a well-written short story first. (I confess, I was already a huge fan of Suzanne Johnson’s writing.)

Aside from being short and easy to consume when you don’t have much time, one great benefit of these stories is that they’re cheap (or free) ways of trying out a new author. You don’t need to invest much time or money and end up disappointed and broke.

Do you like reading short romance stories? Have you ever bought an author’s novel after loving their short story writing style?