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“C’mon, scoot your gorgeous ass over, Gage,” Kallie RiviÈre whispered, climbing onto the shadowed bed. “I feel like shit. How much goddamned champagne did we—” She froze when her fingers touched the hot, wet sheets.
She blinked in the dawn light filtering into the New Orleans hotel room. Not shadows. She caught a faint whiff of coppery blood. Something else altogether darkened the sheets.
Nausea flipped through her belly. Swallowing hard, she lifted her hand and forced herself to push the blood-soaked sheets back from the man they covered. Gage. The good-looking and hard-bodied nomad conjurer she’d hooked up with last night after the May pole dance.
Playing with him had been a bendy, bouncy, naked trampoline act; a free fall into pleasure. One part Gypsy-style outlaw biker, one part pagan conjurer, and one part hot-blooded explorer—all sexy nomad. Man was beaucoup skilled.
Or had been.
Kallie stared at the dead man in her bed. He lay on his belly, his face turned to the side. Blood masked his fine features, glittered in his black curls. It looked like blood had poured from Gage’s eyes, nose, mouth, and—given the blood staining the sheets beneath him—from elsewhere, like a spigot turned on full blast. All color had drained from his espresso-brown skin, leaving his swirling blue-inked clan tattoos stark on his muscular back, ass, and thighs.
Kneeling on the bed, Kallie reached over, intending to touch her fingers to his throat and check his pulse, but her hand stopped just a few inches above his blood-streaked neck.
Just a few hours ago, he’d devoured her lips with rough and hungry kisses as they had tumbled together on the carpeted floor, her legs wrapped around his waist—so white against his dark skin. The thought of his skin cold and lifeless beneath her fingers kept her hand in the air, motionless.
His empty, unblinking eyes told her he was dead. Gage was gone. She didn’t need to touch him. Kallie stared at her trembling hand, wondering if she even could.
She’d seen plenty of dead things at home in Bayou CyprÈs Noir, but never a dead person, let alone one she knew.
Well, hey, Kallie-girl, that isn’t quite right, now is it? Shouldn’t keep lying to yourself like that.
Memory tugged at Kallie, taking her back to another morning nine years ago.
Mama pulls the gun’s trigger and the side of Papa’s head explodes in a spray of blood and bone. He slumps down in his chair, a bottle of Abita still in his hand.
Kallie stands in her bedroom doorway, frozen—just like now. Mama turns and faces her, aims the gun carefully between her shaking hands. Her hands shake, but her face is still, resigned.
“Sorry, baby. I ain’t got a choice.”
Mama pulls the trigger again.
Kallie touched trembling and blood-sticky fingers to the scar on her left temple. Traced the lightning stroke of the bullet’s path, just as her gaze traced the contours of Gage’s face. Pain and shock had widened his hemorrhaging eyes, had twisted his fingers into the sheets.
How had he died? When had he died? While she lay curled on the bathroom floor, sick on too much wine and champagne?
She hadn’t heard a goddamned thing.
Kallie reached up and closed her fingers around the pendants her aunt had hung around her neck nine years ago—a tiny onyx coffin marked with a silver X and a medallion for Saint Bernadette—and closed her eyes.
It was too late to call 911, but she needed to contact someone. Report this. Maybe the coordinators of the oh-so-exclusive May Madness Carnival would know what to do, especially when it came to dealing with a dead member of one of the freewheeling ain’t-bound-by-your-squatter-laws nomad clans.
Maybe, yeah, but she thought a friend’s calming advice might be the way to go first. She gave her pendants a quick squeeze for luck before releasing them, then opened her eyes.
Kallie’s gaze fell on the small stylized fox black-inked beneath Gage’s right eye—the tat naming his clan. She wanted to grab a clean section of the sheet and wipe the blood away, wanted to smooth his eyes shut, but her hands remained knotted on her thighs.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispered, the sound of her words hollow and inadequate even to herself. “Eternal rest grant unto him, O bon Dieu. And let perpetual light shine upon him. All flesh must come to you with all its sins; though our faults overpower us, you blot them out. Baron Samedi, I ask you please to accept this man into Guinee. Guide him safe from the crossroads and from the land of the living.”
Course, it might be nice if God and the loa actually listened to prayers without needing a rum-soaked bribe first. Kallie sighed. Still, old habits and all that bullshit.
Kallie scooted off the bed and, not sure where her cell phone was, grabbed the room phone. Her finger shook as she punched in the number to Belladonna’s room.
“Whazz?” Belladonna slurred, her voice thick with sleep.
“It’s me.” Kallie cupped her hand around the receiver’s mouthpiece like she was trying to keep her conversation private or trying to curl her fingers around something normal and real. “Something bad’s happened . . . beaucoup bad, Bell. I need you to come over right now.”
All the sleep evaporated from Belladonna’s voice. “I’ll be right there. You alone?”
“Yes and no.”
An exasperated snort. “Which is it, girl? Do I need to bring muscle or a spell?”
“Just you, dammit. Please.”
The line went dead. Kallie re-cradled the receiver, then sat down on the carpet, amid the wreckage of her clothes and Gage’s, her arms wrapped around her bare legs. She shivered, teeth chattering, caught in a cold trembling that vibrated up from her core.
Mama’s hands shake, but her face is still, resigned. “Sorry, baby. I ain’t got a choice.”
Kallie thought she’d put all that aside, all the darkness and fury and tight-throated hurt, when she’d gone to live with her ti-tante Gabrielle; had sworn she’d never let her goddamned mama steal another moment of her life.
Looks like I just broke that promise.
Knuckles rapped against her door, and Kallie’s heart jumped into her throat. “Hold on,” she said, unfolding her shaking limbs and climbing gracelessly to her feet. Belladonna must not’ve even bothered to dress, must’ve just thrown on a robe and hustled her ass into an elevator.
Kallie padded to the door, unlocked it, and eased it open. “Thanks for getting here so—” The words withered in her throat.
Not Belladonna in a robe, but a tall and fine-looking guy wearing a hastily tugged-on sage-green tank, jeans, and scooter boots with painted flames licking up from the soles. Blue-inked Celtic tattoos swirled from beneath the shoulders of his tank and down his arms. Thick, honey-blond dreads coiled nearly to his waist, and sideburns, stiletto-thin and sharp, curved along the lines of his jaw.
A shock went through her as she met his pine-green gaze. For a second, everything quieted inside of her as though he’d pressed a soothing finger against her lips and whispered, “Shhh.” His eyes widened a little as though he felt the strange connection too; then Kallie noticed the small black fox inked beneath his right eye, and her heart sank.
“Hey, you must be Kallie, Gage’s hoodoo honey, yeah? Sorry to bug you so early, but is he still here?” the nomad asked. His gaze slid past her and into the room. “I really need to talk to him.”
“Now?” Ice sheared off from the glacier encasing Kallie’s heart and flowed into her veins, froze her thoughts.
On pure instinct, she stepped into the hall, pulling the door shut behind her. Too late, she realized she was wearing only her red lace please-undress-me bra and bikini-cut panties. Face burning, she pulled one dangling strap back up onto her shoulder.
An appreciative but teasing smile curved the nomad’s lips. “Rosy cheeks to match the undies. You wear ’em well, sunshine. I’m Layne, by the way.”
Kallie opened her mouth, unsure of what to say, but knowing she needed to say something, anything. But before a single word could emerge from between her lips, the nomad’s gaze locked onto her hands. He sucked in a sharp breath. She looked down. Blood smeared her fingers. Her pulse thundered in her ears.
“I don’t know what happened,” she stammered, looking up at him. “He was dead when I—”
Layne stared at her, all expression gone from his face. “Dead?”
Temples throbbing with hangover pain, Kallie nodded, holding his pine-green gaze, unable to think of a single worthwhile word to say.
“You’re kidding me, right?”
“I wish I was,” Kallie said.
Shoving past her, the nomad pushed open the door and walked into the sunlight-laced room.
“Wait, hold on.” Kallie hurried into the room after him. Her belly knotted as she drew in a breath of air tainted with the coppery scent of blood and, underneath, something she’d missed earlier—the faint brimstone stink of discharged magic; scents that seemed to register on Layne too.
He swung left and stopped in front of the rumpled and blood-drenched double bed. The color drained from his face. “Gage. No. Oh, shit. Shit.”
The shocked grief on Layne’s face tightened Kallie’s throat. “I’m so sorry.” She desperately wished her hung-over brain would toss her words a little less trite, give her a verbal lifeline. But no. The only other thing it coughed up was: Sorry for your loss.
“You’re sorry,” Layne repeated, voice flat. “My draÍochtbrÚthair—my brother-in-magic and my best friend—lies dead in your bed. And you’re fucking sorry?”
“Look, I had nothing to do with Gage’s death.”
Layne spun around and grabbed Kallie by both arms, his road-callused fingers clamping around her biceps. “Nothing? Ain’t that his blood on your fingers?”
“Get your goddamned hands off me before I forget you’re grieving.” Kallie met his eyes, glare for glare, her hands knuckling into fists.
“Or what? You’ll hex me to death too?”
“Too? Oh, hell, no. Is that what you think? I told you—I found him like that. I sure as hell didn’t kill him!”
“I smell spent magic. If you didn’t kill him, who did?”
“I don’t know, dammit!” Kallie wrenched free of Layne’s grip, suspecting—given the strength of his hands—that he’d let her go. Chin lifted, she held his gaze and pulled her bra strap back onto her shoulder again.
Layne folded his arms over his chest. “So where the hell were you when it happened, anyway? The only blood I see on you is on your hands, so you couldn’t have even been in the goddamned bed with him.”
“We never made it to the bed, per se, not together, because we downed a ton of champagne and wine, and I passed out in the bathroom. When I woke up . . .”
“Passed out. Pretty damned convenient, huh?”
“A damned relief at the time, truth be told, considering all the puking.”
“You okay, Shug?” another voice said, all purring velvet tones; a voice Kallie knew well. “Or am I looking at a soon-to-be-dead nomad?”
© 2010 Adrian Phoenix
Posted August 4, 2010
I Also Recommend:
This book interweaves multiple plot lines to form a gripping and delightfully unpredictable story. An intense and twisting crime investigation combines with darker mysteries surrounding the female protagonist's traumatic past and inexplicable supernatural powers. In addition, the book contains lighter, more humorous scenes and some erotic moments. The novel also features sympathetic/engaging/amusing primary characters, mesmerizing descriptions, a truly diabolical villain, excellently described hoodoo and voodoo magic, distinct and diverse dialects (including Cajun, English and Irish expressions) and an evocative southern bayou ambiance.
Written in the third-person, the book follows the experiences/perceptions of diverse and attractive main characters. The cast includes the hot-headed, twenty-something hoodoo (root worker) apprentice Kallie Riviere; her funny and loyal voodoo priestess friend Belladonna Brown; a 'hot' and blond dreadlocked nomad biker who is a 'Vessel' (a spirit cabinet for the dead); an Irish pixie-like woman who is divorced from the biker but remains his protective friend; and, the conjurer head of magical Hecatean Council who leads the investigation and demonstrates an intelligent/droll wit and particular proclivities. Then, there's the hoodoo villain who's completely dedicated to revenge and practices the blackest, soul-stealing magic.
The story begins with the female protagonist, Kallie Riviere, waking up after a wild Hecatean carnival night and hook-up with a hot nomad conjurer. She finds the conjurer's bloody and lifeless body in her bed. Eventually, she and her friend Belladonna discover that the man was killed by a soul stealing hex placed underneath the sheets of her bed. The clan brother of the dead nomad, the 'Vessel' Layne Valin, arrives at Kallie's room only to be infected with the death curse when he touches the body. Inexplicably, Kallie is able to channel the dark juju, and, then, is taken into the custody by the Council's head, Lord Basil Augustine. In a surprising plot twist, Lord Basil is killed when an attempt is made on Kallie's life, and his spirit takes up residence in the body of Layne Valin. In time, the souls of both Layne and Basil agree to take turns controlling Valin's body.
The criminal/investigative plot is fast-paced and twisting. It resolves in an intensely supernatural climax. Further, the deeper mysteries of Kallie's inexplicable powers/abilities and dark past are explained but remain essentially unresolved in the finishing scene.
I truly enjoyed this book and recommend it to any urban fantasy fan.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 4, 2010
I Also Recommend:
I'm a sucker for a good voodoo/hoodoo mystery. I love Adrian's The Maker's Song series and this new series has intrigued me just as much. Set in Louisiana's dark and dangerous world of hoodoo practitioners. Adrain successfully created a world that felt like Death lurked around every corner, the character's felt completely authentic and Adrian seamlessly blended the American-African-Cajun cultures.
This book hooked my attention from beginning to end. The story was dark, fast paced, with lots of action, magic and humor.
I highly recommend this book to fellow dark urban fantasy and look forward to the next book in this new hoodoo series, BLACK HEART LOA due out 2011 and I can't wait for the next book in the Marker's Song series, Etched in Blood due out 2/22/2011.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 19, 2012
I did finsh it but I didn't like it, can't really say why without giving the ending away. To me it left me from curious enough to buy it to wishing I had bought another book instead. It is rare for me to say but I won't be buying the next one.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 29, 2012
I'm not done reading it just yet, but one thing that bothered me about the book in the beginning was this character, that character, the next character-- they were introduced at weird times (such as not even in different chapters) and it feels like there are just too many. The ex-wife of the vessel for example really serves no purpose that I can discern.
But...once I got past that, it's actually pretty decent. Just the overwhelming amount of characters still bothers me.
Posted December 30, 2011
Great new author with a newer twist for me with the magics that we associate with New Orleans. The story was a bit predictable but I would read again and suggest to someone looking for a good read.
The characters were real and interesting and you know the fireworks are going to continue in the next book.
Posted October 15, 2011
Posted September 8, 2011
Good. I loved the characters introduced in the story, but didn't like the feeling like crucial character information was left out of the book. Also, this seems to be a book that features a story arc that goes over several books. A book can be part of a series and still contain a story where are loose ends are wrapped up without having to buy the next book. I'm on the fence about purchasing #2.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 16, 2011
Posted July 26, 2011
Leaves you hanging, now I have to go get the book, have to know why her soul was taken, whats up with her coz...... whats the rest of the story,Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 19, 2011
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Posted December 19, 2010
This book was OK. I liked the main characters and the interaction between Kallie and Layne. The hoodoo story line was a nice change from the usual vampires, warewolves, witches, etc. While it's interesting to see the story from different people's perspectives, I find it annoying when the story jumps around because as soon as I start to get into the book/plot/etc the perspective changes. Also, while I can see the benefit of showing the story occasionally from the villians' perspective, it totally sucks any mystery or suspense out of it because you know who the bad guys are and why their doing what their doing. And to be honest, I started skimming the villians portions because I wanted to get back to the main characters. So even though I liked Kallie and Layne, I don't think their chemistry is enough to bring me back for the sequel, because overall this book was "Meh."Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 30, 2010
This book was sooo much fun to read, another awesome series that Im now completely addicted to from Adrian Phoenix! I loved falling into this world of hoodoo with all its textures & scents, dialects & attitudes, spells & hexes and just fantastic possibilities. Each character introduced in this series was just so vividly portrayed that you cant help but get wrapped in this mysterious and magical story that starts with terrible death and ends in a cliffhanger, for true.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 6, 2010
Posted July 29, 2010
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WHILE THE WRITING AND STORY FLOWED WELL IN THIS BOOK PROVIDING FOR EASY READING. I DID NOT LIKE THE BOOK OR ANY OF ITS CHARACTERS, THE BANTER WAS NOT AS WITTY AS IT WAS INTENDED TO BE, ALL THE CHARACTERS WERE EXTREMELY GOOD LOOKING. MAGIC IS EASY TO USE AND APPARENTLY THERE IS NO PRICE FOR DOING EVEN THE MOST DIFFICULT ACTS OF MAGIC. THERE IS A REALLY DISTURBING SCENE WHERE A GAY GHOST TAKES OVER A MANS BODY AND MASTERBATES BECAUSE THE NEW BODY SOOO HOT. BUT THE THING I DISLIKED MOST OF ALL WAS THE GORGEOUS YET SELFISH HEROINE WHO FEELS ITS OK TO PUNCH PEOPLE IN THE FACE WHENEVER SHE FEELS LIKE IT. I WILL PASS ON ANY FUTURE ADDITIONS TO THIS SERIES.
0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 30, 2010
I Also Recommend:
I've already read her Fallen Angels series and am breathlessly anticipating the next one.
I bought this book to fill the void and got way more than I expected! In the first 24 hrs., I was already half way through the book. WOW! Keep writing these great books!
Posted June 17, 2010
Kallie Riviere enjoys her time at the New Orleans Hecatean Alliance's carnival where she and other Hoodoo practitioners and Voodoo witches have fun and share experiences. She enjoys even more sharing her bed with Gage the nomadic outlaw biker conjurer with Gypsy blood and a fine butt (and other body parts). However, her euphoria ends abruptly when she finds Gage dead and soulless in her bed; triggering the memory from almost a decade ago when Mama fired a bullet into Papa's head and tried to kill her too back in Bayou Cypres Noir.
In the present Kallie concludes she was the target of the killing soul sucker. With her best friend Belladonna accompanying her and covering her back, she fears for her childhood buddy Dallas, as she assumes he may be on the hit list too. The two BFFs search for Dallas while eluding a deadly malevolent being who wants to suck Kallie's soul from her; and has no compunctions about doing likewise to Bella while Gage's clan brother Layne seeks vengeance at a time when Lord Augustine is determined to possess Layne's body in order to avoid having to leave this plane. More frightening is the clues lead back to her Tante Gabrielle who took her in when she became an orphan and has mentored her and her cousin Jacks in Hoodoo.
This super opening gamut in the Riviere urban fantasy hooks readers from the opening scene of finding her lover in bed dead and never slows down as the heroine believing she was the intended target of the Black Dust Mambo magic begins her inquiry. The support cast is solid though this is clearly Kallie's star as Adrian Phoenix starts her new saga with a strong magical mambo murder mystery.
Posted May 7, 2010
I Also Recommend:
So totally excited to have been given the opportunity to review BLACK DUST MAMBO, the first in Adrian Phoenix's new Hoodoo series! I have been hooked on Adrian 's work since the moment I picked up A RUSH OF WINGS, the first book in her Maker's Song series, and have been waiting patiently. well maybe not patiently. but waiting all the same to be able to get my hands on this book.
Kallie Revere has a past that haunts her. After almost dying and losing both of her parents she is sent to live with her aunt, Gabrielle LaRue. Gabrielle is also Kallie's Ti-tante, training her and her cousin, Jackson, in the art of Hoodoo as a root-worker and healer. Now Kallie and her friend Belladonna are off to attend the May Madness Carnival in New Orleans . This is a time for those who practice in Hoodoo and Voodoo to come together to learn, share and have a good time. The last thing Kallie expects it to find the sexy nomad, Gage, dead in her bed when she wakes up on the bathroom floor with a killer hangover.
Layne Valin is out for revenge due to the death of his clan brother Gage. Sticking close to Kallie as they search for the one responsible they make their way through a maze of obstacles. This becomes difficult with the presence of Lord Basil Augustine since he's decided that he wants to use Layne's body as a way to keep from crossing over. With both of them hellbent on finding the person responsible for death during the carnival it becomes an interesting dance that they share and one that was very interesting to see played out.
I have to say that I loved how different each character was and how much they stood out on their own yet worked together so well. I really found McKenna's character, a member of the nomad clan, to be one of my favorites and I can't wait to find out if we will be seeing more of Ms. Felicity Fields, Lord Augustine's assistant. The writing is so rich and the detail is amazing without dragging on. Adrian has a way of hooking you on page one and never letting up. The plot was filled with twists and turns that kept the pages turning until the wee hours of the night. The moment the book came to an end I wanted to start reading it again and have gone back and reread several parts. Adrian 's writing has such a depth that it's like walking into the world that she has created and I didn't want to leave. I am so ready to find out what happens next that I can't imagine how I'm going to wait till next year. The only saving grace is that ETCHED IN BLOOD, the 4th in the Maker's Song series, will be out in December!
Posted July 18, 2011
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Posted September 6, 2010
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Posted January 3, 2012
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