|Title: Black Heart Loa
Author: Adrian Phoenix
Series: Hoodoo #2
Cover Art: Steve Stone
Genre: urban fantasy
Reviewed by: Julia
References to sex, one explicit sex scene.
“An eye for an eye is never enough.”
Kallie Rivière, a Cajun hoodoo apprentice with a bent for trouble, learned the meaning of those ominous words when hoodoo bogeyman Doctor Heron targeted her family for revenge. Now, while searching for her still-missing bayou pirate cousin, Kallie finds out the hard way that someone is undoing powerful gris gris, which means that working magic has become as unpredictable as rolling a handful of dice. The wards woven to protect the Gulf coast are unraveling, leaving New Orleans and the surrounding bayous vulnerable just as an unnatural storm—the deadliest in a century—is born. As the hurricane powers toward the heart of all she loves, Kallie desperately searches for the cause of the disturbing randomness, only to learn a deeply unsettling truth: the culprit may be herself. To protect her family and friends, including the sexy nomad Layne Vallin, Kallie steps into the jaws of danger . . . and finds a loup garou designed to steal her heart—literally.
While I knew BLACK DUST MAMBO was going to be a hard act to follow, my surprises in reading BLACK HEART LOA had nothing to do with those high expectations. LOA was a different breed of book all together, as the story line changes from the human villains of BLACK DUST MAMBO to the more amorphous magical threats. It took me a few chapters to change gears, but despite that slow start I devoured the last two thirds of this book.
One of the changes that took me a bit to adjust to was the lack of a human villain to drive the action. Despite the time constraint of a hurricane about to make landfall, I felt that the obstacles in this book had less forward momentum than those in BLACK DUST MAMBO. The magical issues in LOA were more difficult to keep track of and predict, which meant that the dangers Kallie and her companions faced were less compelling to me as a reader.
Luckily, though I was less interested in the plot, Phoenix once again wrote tantalizing and messy love lives. Fantasies, realities, old loves and new… that was the fuel that kept this book moving for me. LOA teases with just enough heat to keep you glued to the page, but not so much that a Happily Ever After is assured. Kallie and Layne share some hot moments, but Phoenix structured their interactions in a way that still leaves lots of seductive possibilities.
One such possibility was Devlin Daniels (am I the only person who read “demon wolf of the bayou” and thought “Yum”?), who has me at the edge of my seat to read more of his story. Kallie and Belladonna have lots of wonderful page time, and Kallie’s cousin Jackson vies for center stage with his Robin Hood antics and complicated history. While BLACK HEART LOA fell one bat short of BLACK DUST MAMBO in my affections, it definitely sets the stage for sequels that I can’t wait to pre-order.