Wild Man’s Curse by Susannah Sandlin
Book #1 in Wilds of the Bayou
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: April 5th 2016
ARC Provided by Montlake Romance and Netgalley
Susannah Sandlin (aka Suzanne Johnson) writes several different series, but it’s her Sentinels of New Orleans that has long been my favorite. Well, the cast of Wild Man’s Curse could be giving DJ and co. a run for their money! I’m not a very prolific romantic suspense reader, but the combination of the colorful setting and the fun characters and the very personal mystery plot made this a winner for me.
Celestine “Ceelie” Savoie is trying to make a name for herself in Nashville when she’s contacted about her Aunt Eva’s murder. Eva was her only living relative so Ceelie heads back to small town Louisiana to see what she can salvage of her Aunt’s life. The killer is still at large and his sights turn to Ceelie. The local police department have Ceelie’s best interest in mind, but it’s wildlife agent Gentry Broussard who wants her heart. Unfortunately, Gentry seems to have a very personal connection to the killer. Can Gentry protect Ceelie while facing down shadows from his past? Can Ceelie love a man connected to her Aunt’s murder or will the old Savoie curse come back to claim its last victim?
Being a Southern girl myself, I’ve always loved stories set in the Louisiana bayou. Susannah Sandlin is the only author I’ve found that truly brings the setting to life in a vivid yet realistic manner, without resorting to stereotypes. It probably doesn’t hurt that she lived in New Orleans for quite a while herself. I loved Whiskey Bayou and could clearly picture Aunt Eva’s tiny cabin leading right to the bayou, gators lounging and buzzards looking for their next meal. All the characters, from the leads to the minor supporting players, were developed carefully without becoming caricatures. It was very easy to slip into the world of Wild Man’s Curse and I can’t wait to go back for another visit.
The Wilds of the Bayou series will focus on different characters in each book, as is common for many romance series, but I will be very sad to leave Ceelie and Gentry behind. Gentry Broussard takes gret pride in his work as a wildlife agent and his love for the Louisiana lands was quite evident. He was a solitary figure with a tragic past, but you never felt sorry for him. Sure, he had his moments of self-doubt, but Gentry pulled himself up by the bootstraps and did what he had to do. Ceelie Savoie was also a wonderful character. She left Terrebonne Parish because of a promise to her father, but it doesn’t take long for her to realize leaving was a mistake and the bayou is truly her home. Her ancestry is complicated and she was estranged from her Aunt Eva for a while, but Ceelie remembers her days spent in the little cabin. Once she throws the bones for the first time, Ceelie’s life path changes. She knows where she wants to be and she won’t let anyone drive her out.
The heat level between Ceelie and Gentry was pretty mild in Wild Man’s Curse, more of a slow burn. Of course the timeline was somewhat accelerated because everything has to happen within this one book, but it never felt like instalove. Ceelie and Gentry felt genuinely attracted to one another on more than a physical level and their flirtations were very sweet. They seemed like two people who would have found their way to one another with or without the suspense angle required for the genre. It makes me believe in their happily ever after.
The suspense elements in Wild Man’s Curse were also well-done and kept me reading. Gentry’s connection to the killer toed the line of unbelievable, but Susannah made it work. The grittier plot elements were well-balanced with the romance and also interwoven with interesting details from Gentry and Ceelie’s pasts. The murders were suitably dark and grisly to show the desperation of the killer without requiring gratuitous descriptions.
Wild Man’s Curse was a very promising debut for Susannah Sandlin’s Wild’s of the Bayou and I would expect nothing less from her. If you are looking for a thrilling story with wonderful characters and a sweet romance, this is your book. If you love genre stories set in Louisiana and especially within the Cajun/bayou culture, this is your book. I’m looking forward to reading more from this series and I am excited to see the next book focuses on Gentry’s partner, Agent Jena “Red” Sinclair!
Thank you to Montlake Romance via Netgalley for providing an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: = B
© 2016, Badass Book Reviews. All rights reserved.