Today, I’m joining Drusilla Jaco, aka DJ, the sentinel charged with keeping dangerous preternatural creatures out of modern New Orleans and South Louisiana. DJ is a wizard specializing in potions and ritual magic, but she hasn’t found a potion to manage the guys in her life: her partner Alex, a shapeshifting enforcer (aka assassin); Alex’s cousin Jake, who underwent a recent attack and is no longer exactly human; and the undead 19th-century pirate Jean Lafitte.
I’m joining DJ at a corner table at the Napoleon House bar and restaurant on Chartres Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter, where we’re sipping Pimms Cups and noshing on muffalettas.
Let’s talk about your men, DJ.
DJ: Do we have to? They’re driving me nuts. Let me get another drink first. They make me want to drink.
I’ll admit they’re kind of overwhelming taken en masse. Let’s try one at a time. What was the first thing you thought when you met your partner, Alex? I mean, he’s 6-3 of chiseled hotness, so did he sweep you off your feet?
DJ: I was in the process of fighting an undead pirate and didn’t have a weapon, so I had a lot of thoughts in quick succession: Who shot the pirate? Who’s that big, black-clad dude standing in my living room with a shotgun? Whoa, check out that body; the man is sex on legs. Damn, why did he have to ruin everything by opening his mouth? What a jerk. …. Yeah, those were pretty much my thoughts when I met Alexander Warin.
Have your feelings changed toward him?
DJ: Um…(*signals waiter for another Pimms*)…Well, Alex is my best friend now. I mean, Eugenie’s also my best friend but she’s human and doesn’t know what we are, so Alex is my best friend who knows I’m a wizard and not a risk-management consultant. I haven’t had a lot of friends in my life—I grew up in a really isolated environment. So I value that.
You and Alex are just friends? No benefits?
DJ: That’s what we decided, although he seems to be trying to change the rules on me and it’s kinda freaking me out. I’m trying to avoid taking that step because I really, really don’t want to lose his friendship and you know that’s what would happen.
You can’t be both friends and lovers?
DJ: Excuse me, but have you MET Alex Warin? He’s a shapeshifter. He is possessive and bossy and territorial. He goes monosyllabic and Neanderthal at key moments. As long as we’re just partners I can ignore him for the dog he can turn into.
Yeah, but he’s sexy.
DJ: Uh-huh. No doubt about that. Just ask him.
Okay, let’s move on to Jake, then. He’s Alex’s cousin. First thoughts on meeting him?
DJ: I was freaked out at the time. It was right after Hurricane Katrina, my mentor Gerry was missing, this Neanderthal Alex had shown up claiming to be my new partner, and we were going into the flooded Lakeview neighborhood to see if Gerry’s body was in his ravaged house. And here’s this guy with sun-streaked hair and amber eyes and the most beautiful smile on earth—and he was just so normal, you know? I needed normal.
Well, he’s not so normal anymore—I don’t want to be all spoilerific but some horrible stuff happens to Jake right after Katrina.
DJ: And nobody feels worse about that than me, unless it’s Alex. Jake didn’t deserve what happened to him, and I’d do anything to change it. But I can’t. All I can do is hope he’ll let me help him put his life back together.
You two had some chemistry going before that thing happened. Is it still there?
DJ: I don’t know. We’re trying. Jake is a lot more complex than I initially gave him credit for. In a lot of ways, he and Alex are opposites. Alex comes across as hard and yet he has this hidden nice guy lurking deep underneath all his badassitude. Jake seems softer, sweeter, but he’s hard as nails underneath and having some issues. Things are changing for all of us.
Where does the pirate Jean Lafitte fit into the picture? He is immortal, after all—the historical undead are kept alive by the magic of human memory and he’s probably the most well-remembered New Orleanian of all.
DJ: Well, if I had a lick of the sense God gave me, as my grandfather would say, Jean Lafitte wouldn’t fit into the picture at all. But, uh…have you SEEN the pirate? He’s got that whole sexy bad boy thing going, not to mention the deepest blue eyes I’ve ever seen and that French accent. Ooh-la-la.
But he’s, uh….(searches for diplomatic term)…
DJ: Yeah, I know. He’s technically dead, and has been for more than two centuries. But you’d never know it by looking at him. He’s hot. Of course he’s also devious, a murderer, violent, and completely untrustworthy. He always has an agenda.
So you’re saying Jean Lafitte has no chance with you?
DJ: I like the pirate. He’s entertaining. In a way, I even trust him…in an untrustworthy sort of way. But I haven’t quite been able to get past that technically-dead thing. It’s a hard mountain to scale, although I have to give the man an ‘A’ for persistence.
Anyone else on the horizon? How about the merman Rene Delachaise and your new neighbor Quince Randolph?
DJ: Seriously? I love Rene—crabby Cajun merman that he is. We’re friends. End of story. Nothing happening there. I mean, the man can turn into a giant tuna and I’m afraid of water. As for Quince Randolph, he’s pretty as sin but I don’t like him. Not one little bit. He’s up to something, and I’m going to find out what and put a stop to it.
So, no ménage a quatre in your future? Menage a cinq?
DJ: That’s just gross. I’d like to say I was woman enough to handle four or five guys, but really, not so much. I can’t even figure out what to do with one.
Which guy would you choose for DJ? Leave a comment, along with your email address, to win your choice of either River Road or the first book in the series, Royal Street (choice of U.S. or U.K. editions, print or ebook). International entries welcome!
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The Sentinels of New Orleans series
Hurricane Katrina’s winds not only drove Lake Pontchartrain into the city of New Orleans, collapsing the fragile levees. It also tore down the metaphysical levees between the modern world and the Beyond, flooding New Orleans with old gods, new species, and the Historical Undead—famous former humans given immortality by the magic of human memory. People in New Orleans say Hurricane Katrina changed everything…They don’t know the half of it.
River Road (Sentinels Book 2)
Heat level: sweet-to-smoking
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.
RIVER ROAD buy links:
BARNES & NOBLE:
ROYAL STREET (BOOK 1) LINKS:
~~ 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.