Deadlock (Southern Arcana #3)

By Moira Rogers

Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Publication Date: January 4, 2011
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Purchased

He’s no one’s hero. She’s no one’s pawn. And now they’re caught in the crossfire…

Abandoned by her wolf shifter father and raised by her human psychic mother, Carmen Mendoza can’t deny she’s different. She craves things most women shy away from—and she has a trail of shapeshifting ex-boyfriends to prove it.

Working at a clinic for supernatural creatures, she’s escaped the notice of her father’s legacy-obsessed family. Until they need a pawn in their bid for power. Snared by a vicious spell designed to wake her inner wolf, Carmen’s only hope is to trust the one man strong enough to soothe her darkest instincts.

Alec Jacobson was once the heir apparent to the wolves’ ruling elite, until he walked away to marry the woman he loved. She paid with her life. Now he lives as a rebel, a black-sheep alpha who protects the supernatural residents of New Orleans from the wolves’ barbaric class system. Too bad he can’t protect himself from his need for Carmen.

Yet staking his claim on his enemy’s niece will turn his city into a battleground. Unless he can find a way to stop breaking the rules—and start making them.

Goodreads Summary

I’ve been puttering around with my new favorite toy Calibre in my spare time and while sorting through some collections was surprised to see that Crux, the first book in the Southern Arcana series was published nearly three years ago and Crossroads, the second, was about a year ago.  I’d read both of them again a few months ago and they still seemed just as fresh as anything written now.  For now I’ll call it “rediscovering” how much I enjoyed the first two – give me a few dozen years and we’ll just call it saving a lot of money because I’m too senile to remember buying them before and I’ll think I had good taste and bought some new, good books, Deadlock included.

Alec first comes face to face with Carmen when he barrels into the clinic where she works where she’s treating his friend Kat who’s been roughed up by a mugger.  He was already aware of her shady political pedigree and hadn’t been sure whether or not she’d been sent as a spy up until that moment, but intution tells him she’s not involved in anything her family’s doing.  When he meets with her oily uncle about Kat’s mugging and he insinuates his niece is available as political barter if Alec’s interested, those instincts are confirmed.

Carmen is definitely interested in Alec, but she’s avoiding boyfriends of the furry variety, since those relationships never end well for her.  She’s made a friend in Kat though and she’s on her way to lunch with her when she’s snatched off of the street in broad daylight.  When Alec hears that she’s missing, he knows her family’s behind it and wonders if his visit to her uncle had something to do with it.  He and his partner Jackson track her to an empty warehouse where a nutty but powerful witch is starting a spell to force Carmen into a full shifter.  When the witch escapes, Alec takes Carmen back to his remote property where he can watch over her and keep her safe until they find out if she’s going to go furry or if the spell is going to just stay unfinished.  Alec’s wolf doesn’t care about the spell – Carmen already smellshis.  Between the strong attraction they already felt for each other and now the wolf hormones raging, it’s only Alec’s willpower that keeps the two of them from tangling the second Jackson leaves.

One of the things I realized when I was thinking about writing this was that in all three of the Southern Arcana books so far, while the couples all had a mountain of sexual chemistry from the beginning, they also all had varying really good reasons to talk to each other instead of acting on it right away.  There wasn’t the, “we were interrupted,” tease over and over.  Alec and Carmen got to know each other (mostly we got to know him) and do a lot of heavy-duty flirting before they thought it was okay to actually do all the dirty things Alec had been promising, be still my heart.

I went there and said “dirty things,” so now I have to talk about it.  It’s a rule.

Alec is 44.  Can I take a moment to just make a goofy face and sigh happily over that?  Why isn’t there a nice juicy specific sub-genre of heroes over the age of 40 or at least 35?  Anyway, I digress.  He’s a big, brawny forty-four-year-old guy with a nicely-trimmed beard who talks dirty in bed (or wherever he happens to be).  Ahem.  I don’t know which half of the Moira Rogers duo is responsible for this (they’re a team effort) but I’d like to applaud your brilliant smutty minds.  Alec had a wife that he loved and if he was going to get involved again, it was going to have to be someone very special – Carmen obviously figured out that he knew how to be needed by everyone else but not how to accept being taken care of.  How could it not be perfect that Alec found a strong, capable and sexy woman willing to stand by him no matter what and who loves it when he goes wolfy-dominant in the bedroom?

This story is loaded with people from Crux and Crossroads and it introduces some people that might be featured in future books (as if I have a crystal ball, ha) as things continue to go really wrong for Carmen.  The book tended to drift from Alec and Carmen’s personal story to the overlying political one a bit when it looked like not only was her family behind her kidnapping but that there were bigger power plays in the works.  Some of Alec’s most important conversations end up being with Andrew, the powerful newly-turned shifter and sort of ex-boyfriend of Kat’s.  There are times when Andrew and Kat even threaten to take over – I think seethe is about the right word for what it feels like he’s doing.  He seethes through the pages, frustrated that he can’t be with Kat and she’s hurt because she doesn’t know why.  Their book, Cipher, is out this September.

My Summary: If you love the Southern Arcana series, you really can’t miss reading this – it’s an important piece – there’s a big political power shift afoot that’s going to rock New Orleans and the gang.  It can’t possibly hurt that there’s also a toe-curlingly sexy wolf who needs his mouth washed out with soap – after some sexy time with a hot little empath.

My Rating: B+

*Note: I wouldn’t say it’s absolutely necessary to read Crux and Crossroads in order to enjoy this, but I can say that you’ll enjoy it so much more.  All the additional characters in here and their relationships and importance will make so much more sense, especially because each of them have special talents (wizard, witch, Seer, etc.) that are used.  Since they’re published by Samhain, they’re ridiculously inexpensive compared to many Agency-priced e-books, so they’re worth the small investment.

Barbara

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