The first book in the Southern Arcana series, published January 2010.
Jackson Holt makes a decent living as a private investigator in New Orleans, home of one of the largest underground supernatural populations in the United States. He and his partners have never met a case they couldn't crack...until a local bar owner asks him to do a little digging on her newest hire.
New Orleans is the fourth destination in as many months for Mackenzie Brooks, a woman on the run from a deranged stalker. After all, any man who shows up on her doorstep claiming to be her destined lover has more than a few screws loose. But crazy doesn't explain why he always finds her no matter how far she runs.
When her well-meaning boss puts a PI on her case, Mackenzie comes face to face with the incredible truth: magic is real, and whatever spell has kept her hidden and separate from the paranormal world is rapidly deteriorating. With time running out, she has no choice but to trust Jackson as he struggles to uncover the truth of her past-and her destiny.
I’ve won this e-book at one of the blogs I follow, sorry, but can’t retrace where. I’ve also won the second book earlier, so that one will be my next read. If only this review would write itself, pfff.
Mackenzie has been running for over a month now, ever since the goodlooking but obvious crazy stalker Marcus Foster has found her. He claims that he is her destined mate, and their child will change the fate of cougar shapeshifters. Where ever she runs, he finds her. And he certainly doesn’t care about killing innocent bystanders. Mackenzie is terrified, but sometimes she will have to stop running. Maybe here in New Orleans, where she has found a new job, and a good boss who likes her, she can stop. She likes bartending, it is what pays for her dance school, and the regulars seem to like her as well. They sure tip good.
Her boss, Nick, is concerned about where Mackenzie is staying, and she asks Jackson Holt, one of her regulars and private detective, to find out where she lives. And he follows her to one of the worst parts of town, still not recovered since Hurricane Katrina visited. It takes Mackenzie a while to discover she is being stalked, but she does, and she confronts Jackson. As she recognizes him as one of the regulars from the bar, and she is carrying pepperspray, she is not afraid to confront him. He just tells the truth, and escorts her further to her motel. Where he really cannot let her stay any longer, it is such a dive. The rooms above the bar are vacant at the moment, and she can stay there, for free. Mackenzie is very glad to take the offer, she needs someplace safe to catch up on her sleep.
Jackson can sense Mackenzie is not really human, some kind of shapeshifter and not a wolf, but he doesn’t know what exactly. Perhaps his partner Alec can tell them.
Unfortunately, the very next day, when she just settled in after a nice sleep on the couch and a hot bath, the bad guys have found her again, and Jackson is with her. She is afraid for him, but is astonished when he deals with the tugs. With magic?
And so Mackenzie gets introduced to a world filled with shapeshifters, magic users, psychics, (but no vampires!). The hard way. Reluctantly she tells her story, and Jackson and his friends promise to help her. Jackson thinks his mentor, the previous owner of the bar and a powerful witch, can help her. Apparently her inner cougar has been blocked from emerging, but her recurring dreams are a sure sign her time is up. Cougars are rare nowadays, but Mahalia has a cougar friend who for sure can tell Mackenzie everything about it. The attraction between Mackenzie and Jackson is running high, but with Mackenzie on the edge, they are not allowed to have sex. It could trigger her cougar to appear, and with no one to show her how, things could get dangerous.
Unfortunately, time is too short, and Mackenzie gets kidnapped by the crazy guy who wants to use her as a breeding machine. Can she save herself, or can Jackson and his friends save her in time?
Moira Rogers sure made up an interesting world, filled with different kind of paranormal beings. And the more power one has, the more it corrupts, which sure shows in Charles Talbot, the Seer of the Cougars. Marcus Foster is his adopted son, and the one he wants to have mating with Mackenzie. Together, they will revive the cougar shapeshifters. Because he has been working towards their child, as he or she will be able to infect humans, just like the wolves can. Which is horrible, Mackenzie’s life is disrupted enough already by knowing what she is and having to run, and her child will have to infect people on purpose, destroying countless lives? No way!
I liked Mackenzie. Although she could live a pampered rich woman’s life with a handsome husband, and have a few children, she says no. It would be so easy to stop running and just give in. Charles Talbot will never give up on his plan.
But she is already halfway in love with Jackson, and doesn’t want to give him up, or just give in. She fights, and she does what has to be done. She knows she was adopted at a young age, but she never knew what happened to her real parents. And now she finds people who actually knew her parents, and helped keep her safe. She is of course overwhelmed with everything she learns, the shape shifter world is filled with rules, and she has to learn quickly.
I could have done with some more background on Jackson, not much is revealed about him. He is a spellcaster, some kind of wizard I guess. And he is really attracted to Mackenzie, and wants to keep her safe. He helps as much as he can, and is desperate when he can’t stop her kidnapper. It takes time to plan to get her free again, and all he wants is action. I liked him, because he is just a nice guy with magic, but could not get into his head at all.
There are some hot lovescenes between them. I also liked the secondary characters. Nick, Mackenzie’s boss, and her very powerful twinsister Michelle, who is a werewolf Seer. Alec, Jackson’s partner, and Kat, their secretary who is also an empath and a hacker. And a few more.
It is a very much action filled book. A lot happens in a short time, and Mackenzie has to deal with a lot all at once. I liked this first book in the series, and am curious what will happen next. I have read some gushing reviews about this series, but I am not there yet. Perhaps the next part will grab me more. A good world building, with interesting dynamics and characters I want to read more about.