Crux: Southern Arcana, Book 1

Crux  - Moira Rogers Mackenzie Brooks is in trouble and on the run from Marcus Foster and his thugs. She doesn't know what they want from her and why Marcus is so persistently stalking her. When an attempt to flee from Marcus lands her working as a bartender in New Orleans she comes across a group of people who are able to help her once she is brave enough to trust them with her secrets. Among them is Jackson Holt, a private investigator with special skills. When Marcus catches up with Mackenzie things come to the surface that are unexpected, the true reason and driving force behind Marcus’ stalking behavior is discovered and the story takes a fast-paced and action-filled turn, with the heat and passion smoldering between Jackson and Mackenzie.Mackenzie is a latent cougar shifter. She doesn't know this at all and only has strange, inexplicable dreams of running through the woods. I loved the transformation Mackenzie went through. From being very skittish and scared and not being able to trust anyone to being more confident and embracing her newfound powers as a shifter. I liked that in the beginning she was oblivious to the whole shifters and magic stuff. That way I grew into the story with her. Jackson was the kind of hero I truly like and not just because of his name. He is charming and easy-going, a true gentleman. But he's also very capable in his job and looks out for his friends and has their backs. Jackson captivated me from the moment he entered the story.At first I wasn't entirely convinced of the chemistry between Jackson and Mackenzie. It felt a bit too hesitant but later on I understood why and I must say there was no hint of hesitation left when they both went for it. The making-out scenes are really sexy, sweet and hot and I thought it was great that Mackenzie took the initiative and the lead in quite a few of them, it showed Mackenzie’s growing confidence and Jackson's gentle and caring nature. When I was given the opportunity to read and review CRUX I didn't even think about hesitating. It all came about when I was talking on Twitter about how hard I fall for heroes named Jake, Jack or Jackson. My favorite heroes list is full of them. Bree (one of the Moira Rogers writing duo) picked up on it and mentioned CRUX had a hero named Jackson and naturally I couldn't resist when the book was offered for review. And let me start by saying that Bree was spot-on when she said I would love Jackson. I absolutely did! Quote: “Starting some marinara sauce as we speak.” Alec groaned. “Oh hell, Jackson. You’re making Italian food? Is this really the best time for seduction?” Now his face was flaming. “It’s not seduction,” he insisted, lowering his voice. “It’s a job.” “It’s Italian food,” Alec countered in an amused voice. “You always make Italian food when you want to impress a woman.” Let's face it! Jackson can come and make me some Italian food anytime...anytime.But not only did I love Jackson, I loved Mackenzie, Nicole, Alec, Derek, Kat, Aaron, Michelle, Mahalia and another character I won't mention by name here for fear of spoiling a major part of the plot, too. In short, I loved CRUX. From the first page I was thrown right into the middle of the story, there is no extensive world building first and going into a story without some build up can be confusing but not with CRUX. All the background information needed, is given gradually along the story without massive info dumps and imbedded smoothly into dialogues and character development. The world that Moira Rogers builds around these characters is different from what I've been used to reading in paranormal romance. Good different! I found the world and characters unique, original and refreshing. The humor and bantering between several characters was a big, big plus too.I'm starting to sound like a broken record but I also loved the writing. It was simple and down-to-earth. CRUX was a very quick read for me, partly because of the writing style that was fast-paced and smooth, partly because of the characters and the plot. I just had to keep on reading to see where it all was going. Characterization and character development was another outstanding element in this book. I loved the development of not only Mackenzie but also other characters that directed my thoughts about them in one direction at first but along the way I had to change my mind about them, for the better. And next to the great characterization there was also action and pace. I absolutely ate up the mission/special ops kind of conclusion towards the end, where the hardcore action was combined with supernatural magic and the fighting scenes were done in a way that I could picture them clearly as if I was seeing them on a screen. I love it when authors can do that for me.After thoroughly enjoying myself with CRUX, I really want to know more about the Southern Arcana world because the Peytons, the Conclave, Marcus, the Gabriels and Alec, they all intrigued me to no end in this refreshingly original and unpredictable first taste of Moira Rogers' talents.If you are up for some magic, shifters, a sweet and sexy romance and writing that’s as smooth as a baby’s bottom, don’t hesitate and pick up CRUX! You won’t regret it one bit! Rating: 8.0 out of 10