August 20, 2018
Detective Zach Johnson never resented his lack of magic, although he hated that as a mundane he had no power to stop a corrupt Talent council from stealing the resources of the magical community. However, the return of the ancient ifrit guides led a blood-thirsty hummingbird to choose him as a partner. Now he can be a true equal to his shaman lover, Art Lammas, and the two of them can take on the council and the entire community if need be.
Art Lammas loves Zach's enthusiasm and sense of justice, but the Talent community is much more complex than he assumes. Not only does El Paso struggle under the corrupt leadership of the council, but it stands at a place where three different traditions clash: the Vatican-trained shamans from Mexico, the Egyptian-trained shamans of mainstream America, and the Native Peoples traditions, which are far more complex than Art can possibly describe. Art would far rather focus on solving their cases. More than that, Art fears that Talent might be the one force in the universe that could drive a wedge between them. Art would happily burn all the magic out of the world before allowing that to happen, but he may not have that choice.
A politically charged murder, the continuing issues surrounding the return of the Ifrit and the removal of the corrupt El Paso council all came together to make an intriguing read that made me loath to put it down. READ MORE
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
There is a good job of juxtaposing the awful case they are working on and the private lives of the detectives. This is an established couple so we walk in on the middle of their story and get to share in their intimate moments and their journey to their HEA. READ MORE
MM Good Book Reviews
I adored Zach and Art in this story. They have a solid relationship with the other as they work their cases. I loved how well they worked together and how the story evolved. The continuation of the series was apparent as struggles over power and the many different shamans are prevalent in this continuation. READ MORE
What can I say? This series really works for me and even though we are now on book six, I only love them more not less. This book is NOT a stand alone – even though this is the first book where Art and Zach are main characters, you will be confused about how the magic works in this world and about some other things as well. Especially considering that with every book the author adds the layers of sophistication in the magical systems of this universe. READ MORE
Zach nodded at an older man who passed them on the way into the faux adobe two-story community and care center. A true Djedi center would provide emergency medical care, but most of those with Talent considered this was the closest El Paso had to a proper center, and Salma wanted to see what services the council provided. The Community Center sign was artistically carved in metal and the lawn manicured, but even without Talent, Zach felt an unpleasant undercurrent he couldn’t quite identify.
“This is the only Center for those with Talent in all of El Paso?” Salma asked. Her voice was carefully neutral.
No doubt she wanted to condemn the entire community, and given that the local council had misallocated or openly stolen federal money, she had a right to disapprove. When Agents Oberton and Boucher had shown up in El Paso, they had made their displeasure clear, but Zach hadn’t known they’d turned Salma loose to do a financial audit.
Art wore his stoic face, but he didn’t respond. Given that Art loathed interacting with the shamanic community, Zach wasn’t surprised.
“Let’s see what the inside is like,” Zach said, politely smiling at the representative of the Egyptian council. He might not have understood Salma’s exact position or the breadth of her powers, but the fact that every shaman except Art developed a twitch around her revealed enough.
“A fair suggestion.” She tucked the end of her headscarf into the neck of her modest, long-sleeved shirt.
What he did have was a spirit guide—an old one. After thirty years of hearing that only shamans got to have magical spirit animals who could travel between realities and share power, Zach had been adopted by a non-corporeal hummingbird. Pochi was connected to Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec hummingbird god of war, sun and human sacrifice. At the very least, he had been on Earth when people worshipped Huitzilopochtli and had chosen the form of the hummingbird due to that association. The little bird had a temper and a love for firearms practice to match.
But as much as Zach enjoyed Pochi’s antics on the firing range, the bird did not share much in the way of power. Salma had promised him some training, but Zach couldn’t read Salma’s mind or magically sense hostility. He relied on mundane senses developed by years on the police force. A dirty clinic smelled of stale urine and cheap disinfectant—of unwashed bodies and old mattresses. A clean one smelled of plastic and cleaning products. This one smelled like those fragrance pots that plugged into the wall.
Art went to the reception counter and waited until an older man looked up and gave Art a bland smile. “Do you have an appointment?”
“Nope. I want to see what resources you have for those with Talent.”
“Are you new to the area?” the man asked. His expression didn’t vary at all, but Zach still got the impression that he didn’t have a lot of respect for Art.
Zach had no idea if the receptionist was judging Art on his shamanic power or his race. People sometimes misjudged whether Art was a Native American or a Mexican, but no one mistook him for white. Sometimes that brought the racists out of the woodwork.
The receptionist managed to maintain the exact same expression. “There’s no one available to give you a tour. If you leave your number someone will call you.”
Salma swept past Zach and headed for an interior door. She was so calm it took the guy behind the desk a critical extra second to register her movement. Only then did his eyes go wide.
“Hey!” The receptionist leaped to his feet and started after her. “You can’t go back there.”
Art quickly moved to block him behind the low swinging door set into the back counter. “She’s an adept, so she can go anywhere she’d like in a Djedi Center,” Art said. “Now find someone to offer a tour.”
The receptionist shoved Art to the side. Even though Art had the training and power to win any fight, he allowed the man past. Zach shoved a row of waiting room chairs that had been bolted together. They screeched across the white tile floor and thudded into the wall. “Oh, I’m sorry. My mistake,” Zach said with a bright smile. “I wanted a tour as well.”
“Get out or I’ll call the police.” The receptionist climbed over the chairs and headed after Salma. Since Art and Zach were police, that wouldn’t help him.
“Will you tell the police that you’re denying a shaman and an adept the right to use their own Djedi Center?” Art asked. When the guy ran after Salma, Art and Zach chased him.
Zach had to assume that she knew where she was going because she was all the way at the far end of the hall, passing numerous closed doors. Two stood open to show well-decorated rooms, one with a massage table. Since Djedi Centers were supposed to serve the magical community, both spiritually and physically, medical treatment and massage and even ping-pong were all legitimate activities. However, the number pads set into each door to lock them was not standard.
“You can’t go up there!” The receptionist’s voice had grown shrill and angry, and he tried to grab Salma’s arm. He missed and stumbled to the side.
A puff of air hit Zach’s cheek, and then Pochi appeared. The non-corporeal hummingbird zoomed toward the ceiling, and Zach stumbled as reality seemed to slide like water. Art caught his arm, and love rushed between them. The emotion overwhelmed Zach until he gasped for air and struggled to keep his thoughts on the job.
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