"Edge of your seat thrilling and cold shower hot! A sensational element of this new series!"
Reviewed by Heather Lobdell
Posted June 16, 2011
This series started off with a bang in Black Dust
Mambo and has moved forward with one twist right after
another. BLACK HEART LOA is a mind blowing read you
I love the way that Phoenix's books start off right where
one left you. There is no confusion trying to figure out a
timeline or what may have happened in between stories,
simply put the story is all on the pages and nothing gets
left out! BLACK HEART LOA brought even more mystery and
intrigue into the life of our hoodoo princess Kallie and
her never-ending fight to figure out who, or what, exactly
she is. The added plot twists and paranormal creatures of
all types only enriched the story. I found myself swept
away by the language of the bayou and the lure of Layne.
The action is non-stop from page one and left me breathless
until the last page! The complexities that Phoenix has
created keep getting better and better with every printed
Carnival has ended and so should have the excitement and
murders that went with it. Unfortunately for Kallie that
means losing Layne so that he can continue his search for
revenge on his best friend's killers. Coming home to her
Aunt Divinity, who is also her Hoodoo Priestess, Kallie is
ready for some good ole R & R. But nothing can be that easy
in the world of hoodoo. Just because your life didn't end
yesterday, doesn't mean that it won't end today! Coming
home to find Jackson kidnapped and his dog missing Kallie
knows that rest is not something she is getting quite yet.
When her home gets invaded by men with guns Kallie decides
that finding Jackson is not her only worry, its finding him
alive that counts. One spell after another is going array,
a hoodoo loa has been accidentally let loose on the world.
The wards protecting New Orleans seem to have gone as
screwy as everyone's magic. And don't forget that the
hurricane has turned from harmless to head straight for 'em
overpowering in just a few short days. The threats to her
life, home, and family simply will not wait for another
Running from one loa, Kallie and Belladonna trek across the
bayou to begin the search for Jackson. A girl can only deal
with one life threatening event at a time. Just in the nick
of time the girls find Layne along the way. Only Layne is
now carrying two ghosts and no one knows who is in control.
Just when Kallie is wondering what else could possibly go
wrong, it does. The darkness inside Kallie is threatening
to escape and holding it together may be the hardest thing
she's ever had to face. An old story Jackson once told her
is haunting Kallie's dreams and the only way to save him
just may lie with things that go woof in the night. It's
hard keeping a boyfriend when everyone is trying to kill
Sensational hit! The magic of hoodoo and the sizzling
romance between Kallie and Layne just keeps getting hotter!
When everything is going to chaos family always pulls
together and that warmth is carried throughout the story. I
met the end of this book hoping for another thrilling
escapade and I don't think that author Adrian Phoenix will
ever let me down!
â€śAn eye for an eye is never
Kallie RiviĂ¨re, 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.
wards woven to protect the Gulf coast are unraveling,
leaving New Orleans and the surrounding bayous vulnerable
just as an unnatural stormâ€”the deadliest in a centuryâ€”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 heartâ€”literally.
ExcerptONE--FIVE OF SPADES
The goddamned nightmare hadn't ended, after all.
Kallie RiviĂ¨re shuffled the blue Bicycle cards she used for
divination, their worn edges flipping against her palms.
Drawing in a steadying breath, she closed her eyes and
focused on her cousin Jackson Bonaparte, desperately hoping
that the last words he'd said to her wouldn't become his
last words, period.
"Gotta go. See you on Sunday. Love ya."
After not seeing his pickup in the driveway, Kallie had
assumed Jackson had tossed his Siberian husky into the bed
of his Dodge Ram and had driven into town for a couple of
beers--despite the fact that she'd asked him to stay put, to
keep him safe from the man stalking their family.
Then she'd discovered Jackson's protective mojo bag in the
grass in front of their ti-tante's house--its leather
cord torn as though it had been ripped from around his
neck--along with the baseball bat he kept beside the back
door in case of trouble.
As Kallie picked up the mojo bag from the grass, the woodsy
scents of sandalwood and dog rose wafting up from its red
flannel, dread had dropped like stones into her belly. She'd
known. Felt it down to the marrow.
Jackson hadn't driven to the Hair of the Dog Tavern.
He was missing.
"An eye for an eye is never enough," Doctor Heron
And the long nightmare Kallie thought had just ended--one
she had barely survived--was still very much in play and had
just swept over her cousin.
A nightmare that had begun damned near twenty-four hours
earlier in her blood-soaked bed at the Prestige Hotel in New
Orleans and had ended on the banks of the bayou behind her
tante Divinity's house in Bayou CyprĂ©s Noir.
All because her hoodoo aunt had stolen the identity of
another conjurer and had, therefore, brought
revenge-seeking, soul-killing, Jean-Julien St. Cyr--Doctor
Heron--the bogeyman of hoodoo, into their lives.
And had nearly cost Kallie her
own--body and soul. Or would've if she had a
soul--and that was another goddamned matter altogether.
Another matter for another time. Right now, she needed to
find her cousin.
Kallie shuffled the cards, Jackson's words looping through
her mind like a mantra, a fervent prayer.
Gotta go. See you on Sunday. Love ya.
She pictured Jackson as the cards ricocheted against her
palms--eyes the color of heated honey and brimming with
laughter, slightly tilted like her own; sun-bronzed skin;
coffee-dark hair brushing against his muscle-corded
shoulders in thick waves; lips slanted into a pirate's
wicked smirk; he stood just a whisper under a lean-muscled
He was the same age as she, twenty-three, but just a couple
of months ahead of her. And in love with the restless sea he
had once called--in a rum-sodden moment--his briny bride.
Kallie saturated her cousin's image with her desire to find
him. Alive. Intact.
Love ya back, and I'm goddamned holding you to Sunday,
She'd finished shuffling the cards, and Kallie's fingers
stilled on top of the blue deck. She opened her eyes. Her
pulse raced through her veins. Her heart kicked hard against
her CPR compressionâ€“injured and aching ribs. She felt the
weight of each set of eyes settling like anxious doves along
Her tante and hoodoo teacher, Divinity, stood behind
her along with the woman whose identity Divinity had stolen,
a woman Kallie had met only an hour or so ago--Gabrielle
Kallie didn't know whether Gabrielle was a rootworker like
her and her aunt or a voodoo mambo. But it was Gabrielle
LaRue who Doctor Heron had blamed for his time in prison;
Gabrielle LaRue he'd blamed for poisoning his clients and
leaving him to take the blame.
"An eye for an eye is never enough," Doctor Heron
But the bastard had gone after the wrong woman, the wrong
family, because of that goddamned stolen identity.
Kallie's throat tightened. Several people had died because
of that mistake, more than one in her place. Gage had been
He lies on his belly, his face
turned to the side. Blood masks his fine features, glitters
in his black curls. All color has drained from his
espresso-brown skin, leaving his blue-inked clan tattoos
stark on his muscular back, ass, and thighs.
The sexy conjurer from one of the freewheeling nomad
clans--a pagan blend of biker and Gypsy--had died body and
soul upon her hex-poisoned hotel bed in New Orleans after a
night of sweaty, bendy, hot-blooded play, while she'd been
in the bathroom sick on too much champagne.
Then Lord Basil Augustine, the leader of the Hecatean
Alliance--a fraternity of magicians, conjurers, and
rootworkers--had taken a bullet meant for Kallie, a bullet
fired in desperation by Doctor Heron's doomed, crazed
Rough hands latch onto Kallie's shoulders and spin her
away. Augustine's suit jacket whispers against her robe as
he twists his body past hers. Thunder cracks through the
room. Augustine grunts. He stumbles against Kallie . . .
And Dallas. Kallie drew upon a deep well of relief when she
thought of the hard-drinking root doctor and how he'd
survived Doctor Heron's murderous attack--a knife across the
throat--thanks to the skill of the Hecatean Alliance
surgeons and healers who'd saved his life. He was currently
hospitalized at the medical center on the twentieth floor of
the Prestige, fresh out of surgery, and hopefully drugged to
Oh, and let's not forget Belladonna--poppet-bound and
And speaking of whom . . .
Belladonna Brown, mambo-in-training and Kallie's best
friend, sat straight-backed on the floral-patterned sofa
Kallie was kneeling beside, her face with its flawless
chocolate-colored skin composed despite the worry flickering
in her startling hazel eyes.
"You okay, Shug?" Belladonna asked. "You look like you're
about to start throwing punches."
"Not a bad idea," Kallie said. "Just wish I had someone to
throw them at."
"Mmm-hmm," Belladonna sympathized.
She'd been snoozing on the sofa after the night's events
when Kallie had awakened her with a frantic shake of her
It's Jacks. And his ass is in the fire, for true.
Hellfire. Then we gotta pull his fine ass out.
"Take a deep breath, Shug, before you turn over that card,"
Belladonna murmured. "I can see the pulse pounding in your
throat. Try to relax."
"Focus on yo' cousin, you," Divinity urged.
Kallie gritted her teeth against the urge to tell them both,
No goddamned shit. Now shut the hell up and let me do
what I know how to do already.
Closing her eyes, Kallie drew in a deep breath of air
scented with beeswax, the perfume of her aunt's side-yard
roses drifting in through the screen door, and the earthy
odors of patchouli and frankincense from the herb and
rootâ€“cluttered work table, and drew them deep into her
lungs, ignoring the pain twinging through her sternum.
Her pulse eased off the throttle. She brushed her fingers
across the deck's slick back, then cut the deck into three
stacks on the sofa cushion beside Belladonna.
Kallie flipped over the first card on the first stack.
She wasn't surprised when she saw the king of spades--bad
luck coming from a man or with men. Okay, then. Was the late
Doctor Heron responsible for Jackson's disappearance or had
a posse of unhappy outlaws decided to put a stop to her
cousin's Robin Hoodâ€“style bayou thefts of illegal goods?
Jackson had been skating on thin luck for some time now.
Grasping the sharp edge of the first card on the second
stack, Kallie turned it over. Her blood chilled. The
goddamned queen of spades. Bad luck coming from a woman or
"Hellfire," Belladonna breathed. "Both the king and queen.
Jackson's in deep."
"Beaucoup deep, Bell," Kallie said. "Deep enough to
"We ain't gonna allow dat, girl," Divinity said, voice
tight. "Boy ain't gonna drown, no. Now turn over de next
Kallie touched the back of the top card on the third stack,
drew in a deep breath of sandalwood and sage fragrant air,
then flipped it over. Her heart sank. The five of spades.
"Sweet Jesus, dey all be spades."
"At least we haven't seen the ace of spades," Gabrielle
"True dat," Divinity agreed. "Mauvaise partance, bonne
A bad beginning brings a good ending.
Kallie mentally crossed her fingers, wishing those words true.
"Delays, setbacks, maybe defeat," Belladonna said. She shook
her head, her black and midnight-blue curls shivering like a
flower in the breeze. "Maybe," she added hopefully, "that's
meant for whoever took Jacks and not for those of us
looking for Jacks."
Kallie blew out a breath and nodded, even though she thought
the prospect unlikely. She gathered up the three piles and
merged them into one stack again. She was just about to lay
down the first row of six cards, when the whang of
the porch door slamming against the house jolted her up onto
her feet and spun her around.
Wondering why Cielo hadn't barked a warning, Kallie
remembered with a sudden pang that Jackson's Siberian husky
was also missing.
Two men wearing black ski masks, jeans, and black T-shirts
dashed into the living room, shotguns in their black-gloved
hands. The ominous shuh-shunk of rounds being pumped
into place echoed throughout the room.
Kallie's heart launched into overdrive, racking a round of
adrenaline into her veins. She eyed the cards still clutched
in her hands. Welcome to a setback. Hello, delay.
Goddamned five of spades.
TWO--HOUSE FULL O' HOODOOS
"Don't none of y'all make a fucking move!" The taller of the
two men yelled as he halted beside the coffee table, his
shotgun swinging between Kallie and Belladonna at the sofa
and Divinity and Gabrielle at the cherrywood rockers
opposite. Kallie noticed the back end of a blond mullet
poking out of his ski mask. "Or I'll blow your fucking
"Cash, man, tone it down a little," his partner said, voice
low and uneasy. "I ain't real comfortable with that kinda
language around women."
"What the hell have I fucking said about using
my name on jobs, asswipe?" Cash grated through
clenched teeth. "How many goddamned times do I hafta tell
you, Kerry? There. How does it feel,
"You don't hafta to be such a dick about it," Kerry
Belladonna made an odd snorting sound, like she was choking.
Kallie risked a quick glance and confirmed that her friend
had clasped both hands over her mouth, trying to trap the
"Cash and Kerry?" Kallie questioned, speaking for them all.
"Shut the hell up," Cash snarled, pointing the shotgun's
dark mouth at her. "And sit your ass down."
Kerry glanced at Divinity and said, "Apologies for the
language, ma'am. My mama always told me to be respectful
Divinity's hands dropped to her lavender-skirted hips as she
drew herself up to her magically looming five-seven and
lifted her chin, the expression on her light cocoa-colored
"Yo' apologies ain't accepted, boy," she said. "Breaking
into a house is a sight more disrespectful dan de language.
And I'm sure yo' mama would agree dat aiming shotguns at de
people inside dat house be even more disrespectful.
And dis ain't just a house full o' women. Dis be a house
full o' hoodoos."
"And mambos," Gabrielle added, folding her arms underneath
the bustline of her carnation-red blouse and giving a curt
nod of her red-scarfed head for emphasis.
Kallie glanced at her. Well, one question answered.
Kerry's ski maskâ€“encircled eyes widened. "Hoodoos? Mambos?"
Cash snorted. "Hoodoos and mambos. Different names for the
same thing--con artists. Kerry-man, if brains were leather,
you wouldn't have enough to saddle a damned june bug."
"Ain't true," Kerry protested, shaking his head. "I ain't
the stupid one here. At least I know that hoodoos handle
juju and potions and medicines and mambos are like voodoo
priestesses--all about the religion and the loas and
shit. You're the one who ain't got enough brains to
saddle a june bug."
Kallie offered Kerry a sweet-as-pecan-pie smile and held up
the deck of cards. "And y'all happened to interrupt a
"I don't think the loa are gonna care much for that,
you messing with their gris-gris," Belladonna said,
her voice a soft, velvety purr--a sound as ominous as
shotgun shells being chambered. "Especially since you didn't
bring a gift."
Kerry's entire body twitched. His gaze squirrel-skittered
around the room, darting from ceiling to dark corners as
though he expected the spirits to drop on him like a
weighted net or a nest of tree-dwelling snakes, and finally
coming to rest on Divinity's herb and rootâ€“cluttered table.
His pupils expanded as he took in the jars and bottles, the
candles and empty mojo bags, the half-finished poppet with
purple button eyes.
"Jesus," he whispered. And backed up a pace.
"I don't believe in that juju bullshit," Cash declared. But
his uneasy stance and shifting feet made a liar of him--or
at least a partial liar. His fingers white-knuckled around
the shotgun's grip and gleaming steel barrel. "So y'all just
shut your fucking
mouths and tell me where the hell
that bastard Bonaparte hid our shit."
Belladonna snorted. "Outlaw, please. Which is it? Shut up or
talk? Because you sure as sin can't have both."
"He's sounding like an eat-his-cake-and-have-it-too kinda
guy," Kallie said, switching the cards to her left hand and
leaving her right empty. If he got close enough for her to
throw a punch, she wanted to hit him with her strongest. She
might not get a second shot.
Belladonna's curls bobbed. "Mmm-hmm. That he is."
"Christ," Cash muttered. "I got a feeling shut up is
beyond y'all." He raised the shotgun to chest level and
aimed the barrel between Kallie's breasts. His
old-sweat-and-tobacco odor deepened. "You're that fucking
thief's hot little cousin, ain'tcha?"
"Sounds like you got all the goddamned answers," Kallie
replied, lifting her chin. "Why don't you tell me?"
Cash's gaze, burning with a fire stoked by a self-righteous
wrath, scorched a path from the top of her head to just past
her cut-offs and back up along her snug black tank to her
face. A smirk tugged up one corner of his ski-maskâ€“framed lips.
"A pretty little thing with that long, dark hair, and them
purple eyes, ain'tcha? Yeah, you're Bonaparte's cousin, all
right." His smirk vanished. "So sit your pretty little ass
down and tell me where the hell the sonuvabitch stashed our
Kallie narrowed her eyes. "What makes you think I'd know?"
"Ain't playing games here, sugar," Cash said, glancing
pointedly at the shotgun in his hands. "Y'all live in the
same house. Can't be many secrets."
"Oh, you'd be surprised," Kallie muttered, lancing a dark
look at her aunt.
Keeping her attention on Cash's nervous ceiling-scanning
buddy, Divinity tsked and shook her head. "Stop yo' pouting,
ungrateful child. I did what had to be done and dat's de end
"No, that ain't the end of it, goddammit," Kallie said,
knotting her right hand into a fist. "We're just getting
started. But later, I mean. Not now."
Thunder boomed through the house, ricocheting off the walls
and Kallie's eardrums. She winced in pain. Chunks of plaster
from the ceiling exploded against the hardwood floor. The
pungent scent of cordite peppered the air.
"We are now officially back to
SHUT! THE! FUCK! UP!" Cash screamed, neck tendons cording.
Smoke curled from the shotgun's barrel. "If anyone makes a
fucking peep, except to tell me where that goddamned Jackson
Bonaparte hides all the shit he steals, I ain't gonna be
blowing holes in the ceiling! Y'all got that?"
"Jesus Christ, Cash!" Kerry yelled, hands over his ears.
"You trying to make us all deaf?"
"You can shut the fuck up too," Cash snarled. "You ain't
been no kind of help, you fucking superstitious mama's boy."
"Hey," Kerry protested, yelling, an injured expression on
his face. "Ain't no call to be like that. I'm watching your
back, ain't I?"
"I don't know--are you?"
"I got a stake in this too, dammit! I just don't wanna get
my ass hexed, that's all."
Kallie felt the tap of fingers against her calf. Glancing
over her shoulder, she saw Belladonna nod at the floor as
she mouthed: Look, the urgency in her hazel eyes
directing Kallie's gaze down.
The eight of clubs rested on the hardwood floor between the
sofa and the beer bottle and candle-cluttered coffee table,
bits of white plaster sprinkled across its surface. It'd
slipped free from the deck in her hand. Her heart thumped
against her chest.
Go ahead with the situation or person. Take the chance.
From over Cash's tension-taut shoulders, Kallie noticed her
aunt sliding a hand into the pocket of her long, Gypsy-style
skirt, her fingers no doubt seeking a powder or potion she'd
tucked inside. Anything would work on twitching Kerry. Hell,
baby powder would probably scare the man into a dead run out
the front door.
Eight of clubs. Take the chance.
Kallie looked up. Kerry stood on the other side of the
table, close to her aunt and Gabrielle, while Cash stood on
Kallie's side of the coffee table, his smoking-barreled
shotgun once more aimed dead center at Kallie's chest now
that he and his partner were done quibbling.
"You'd better pipe up with something useful, darlin'!" Cash
shouted. "I'm all out of goddamned patience!"
Needing to lure Cash into right-hook range, Kallie decided
to go for demure and helpless. She lowered her eyes, then
bit her lower lip. "I don't know anything about my cousin's
doings," she lied, speaking in a whisper and hoping his ears
were ringing as bad as her own. "His business is his own.
But . . . he does have a storage unit."
"What?" The floor boards creaked as Cash took a step closer.
His battered cowboy boots came into Kallie's downcast view.
"Repeat that. He's got a what?"
Kallie lifted her gaze. "A cousin who ain't gonna put up
with this shit."
She flipped the deck of cards in her left hand at Cash,
while simultaneously swinging her adrenaline-cocked right
fist into the bastard's ski-masked nose as he flinched away
from the hailstorm of sharp-edged cards. Bone crunched
beneath her knuckles.
Kallie grabbed the shotgun barrel, wrenching it free from
Cash's grip despite the pain rippling through her chest from
her injured ribs, and aimed it at him as he staggered
backward, both gloved hands cupped over his broken nose.
"Fuck!" he screamed.
From the other side of the coffee table, Divinity yelled,
"You put dat shotgun down, boy, or I'll be hexing you and
yo' future offspring down to the seventh generation!"
Kallie heard the clunk of metal against wood as Kerry
wordlessly--as far as she could tell with all the goddamned
ringing in her ears--rested the shotgun on the floor.
Followed a heartbeat later by a jarring thud.
Divinity tsked in disapproval. "Dey don't make men like dey
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