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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bad things abound in Louisana...
Being a total sucker for Louisiana in general, NOLA in particular, and sassy supernatural stories in between, this new series could've been written with me in mind. There are moments when I wonder if the 'dark fantasy' genre isn't full to overflowing but, as Royal Street proves, there always seems to be room on top for one more.

Mind you, it is getting tough...
Published on 28 Nov. 2012 by Rowena Hoseason

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious Preternatural
I enjoy novels with a fantasy element but ‘Royal Street’ is total fantasy and I found it rather too much. Main protagonist Drusilla Jaco (DJ) is a junior wizard and via her mentor is thrown into safeguarding New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina allows all sorts of weird beings to return from the dead and slip into the city where killings are taking place. Most...
Published 11 months ago by D. Elliott


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bad things abound in Louisana..., 28 Nov. 2012
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Royal Street (Paperback)
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Being a total sucker for Louisiana in general, NOLA in particular, and sassy supernatural stories in between, this new series could've been written with me in mind. There are moments when I wonder if the 'dark fantasy' genre isn't full to overflowing but, as Royal Street proves, there always seems to be room on top for one more.

Mind you, it is getting tough for authors to find any original wrinkles to add to the magic / monsters mix of myth in the modern world, and you won't find many new concepts in here. The standard ingredients are thrown together with some panache, however: an unready and inexperienced apprentice forced to take on overwhelming odds; an intriguing mix of supernaturals including weres, wizards and whathaveyou; an inevitable overload of love interests; an unwelcome partner; an ambivalent ruling council, and a bad-tempered cat. There's romance but it's low key, not an in-your-face shagfest as some supernatural series can be.
The author has a lively writing style, easy to get along with, and the pace of the tale is generally fast 'n' light. It's not over-burdened with deep philosophical debate or strikingly stylish prose -and I did get a little frustrated with the heroine's seemingly irrational grump towards the guy who'd been sent to help her. I'd've thought that if you're up to your ass in alligators then a guy who comes fully loaded with automatic weaponry would be seen as an asset, and got a little tired with her adolescent attitude towards him in the early stages of the book. It smoothed out as the threat developed and our heroine's hidden secrets started to bubble up until, by the end, I was romping through the pages. Really enjoyed the use of historical characters, too, which is a nice tweak to the usual format. Hope to see more voodoo queens and jazz musicians in future books in the series. The author also does a creditable job of walking us around New Orleans and its battered bars and gin joints; she's nothing like as flowery as Anne Rice, but there are echoes of the same love of the city and its unique architecture and ambience.

Overall, Royal Street is as enjoyable as a frothy coffee with caramel syrup, and about as substantial. But that's no bad thing: this genre is all about escapism, and it surely serves out a good dollop of that.
7/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious Preternatural, 27 April 2014
By 
D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Royal Street (Paperback)
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I enjoy novels with a fantasy element but ‘Royal Street’ is total fantasy and I found it rather too much. Main protagonist Drusilla Jaco (DJ) is a junior wizard and via her mentor is thrown into safeguarding New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina allows all sorts of weird beings to return from the dead and slip into the city where killings are taking place. Most of the characters, both friends and enemies that DJ encounters, are make believe shape-shifters, zombies, elves, fae, magicians etc. but also some real individuals as the pirate Jean Laffite and cornet player Louis Armstrong. She conjures up some, and she returns some from and to the preternatural beyond, and most importantly she has to save her missing mentor.

Perhaps due to the nature of the subject I found author Suzanne Johnson’s writing to be simplistic, and it lumbered along from one scenario to the next without any sense of tension. DJ is naïve as she misses opportunities and makes poor decisions to unnecessarily put herself and others in danger. However the setting in New Orleans and the linking to Hurricane Katrina are intriguing, especially with the area’s reputation for voodoo, plus the reality of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation and its aftermath. In addition a love triangle is introduced, but DJ confuses love and lust and nothing matures as she is repeatedly distracted. At the conclusion of ‘Royal Street’ there are numerous open-ended threads and a sequel is expected. I hope this will drop use of the irritatingly pretentious word ‘preternatural’ and use just ‘supernatural’.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Southern paranormal..., 2 Dec. 2013
By 
Stella (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Royal Street (Paperback)
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I was looking forward to starting this new series but was a little apprehensive as it's touted as a mix of Sookie Stackhouse and Harry Dresden. I've read books in both those series and wasn't a major fan or either, unfortunately. I was hoping the similarities to those books and Royal Street would be superficial and hopefully just a marketing ploy to tempt fans of those series to it. Like the Sookie books this is set in Louisana and like Harry Dresden's world the main focus are the Wizard sentinels.

The main character likes to be known as 'DJ' (although everyone calls her a different name - DJ, Drucilla, Drucilla Jane, Drucilla Jaco, jolie...too many names, truth be told) and she is a New Orleans assistant sentinel. When the story opens Hurricane Katrina is about to strike.

I liked the world building and some of the secondary characters and the actual story isn't bad...I just didn't warm to 'DJ'. She annoys me quite a bit, actually. One minute she's a strong independent woman taking control with a devil-may-care attitude, the next she's out of her depth with mostly everything. A few times it almost got the better of me but I forced myself to stay interested so I could find out where it was all headed and reach the conclusion. The 'love triangle' situation was a mountain out of a molehill really and was almost a major stumbling block for me. It was only ever going to be a triangle if DJ let it be and since she's so fickle and indecisive it all just got a bit tiresome.

I'm hoping she matures a bit in the next book and puts all that nonsense behind her, now that she's got a bit more experience and has a better idea of what she's supposed to be doing and is capable of.

I'll read the next one because I think the series has potential, I'm just not completely on board....yet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, But Could Have Done With More Worldbuilding, 24 July 2013
By 
Ginny (London, England) - See all my reviews
See my review of this book, and many more, at TalesfromtheGreatEastRoad.wordpress.com

Drusilla Jaco, DJ to her friends, thought her job was hard - mixing potions, helping to guard New Orleans from supernatural creatures (including attractive undead pirates), and negotiating politics with the Elder wizards. When the city is warned to evacuate due to the oncoming Hurricane Katrina, her mentor Gerry insists DJ leaves while he stays to defend the city from whatever may come. DJ watches safely as her city avoids the worst of the hurricane, only to be severely damaged by flooding. As heartbreaking as it is to watch, DJ's worst nightmare comes true when she gets a call from the Elders: Gerry has disappeared and the walls between the Otherworld and the mortal world have weakened.

Partnered with the stubborn, but good looking, Alex who works for the FBI, and hiding from the undead pirate she tricked who is back for revenge, DJ must help rebuild New Orleans and protect it from the supernatural monsters now unleashed. With a serial killer targeting wizards with voodoo rituals and the rise of disturbing questions about Gerry's views concerning the Elders, DJ may have her work cut out for her.

The use of Hurricane Katrina was very interesting, and justly done. Seeing the damage done to New Orleans through DJ's eyes, and her relief and guilt as she realises just how lucky she was to have escaped and have her home undamaged, was almost painful to read. Her heartbreak was real and helped to make DJ a sympathetic character.The descriptions of the city were also thorough, creating some very moving scenes. The few scenes in the Otherworld towards the end of the book where also very enjoyable. Hopefully, the Otherworld will be explored further in the rest of the series as it was isolated to Old Orleans, and had the potential to be far more varied in both setting and characters.

The romance in Royal Street is of the slow-burn variety, beginning with hostility between DJ and her partner Alex, slowly becoming friendship as they trust and confide in each other. Both DJ and Alex are likeable characters, despite their faults - namely both being stubborn, unnecessarily so at times. Jean Lafitte, the undead pirate and other half of the possible love triangle, on the other hand, was a character who was much harder to like and trust - though this does make him quite interesting. His motives are constantly unclear as he changes allegiances and plans with no notice. It is only obvious that he looks out for himself. Though this makes his character interesting and unpredictable, as a romantic interest it makes him unstable and fairly unbelievable, since he has tried several times to kill DJ. Other than his looks, there doesn't seem to be any other reason to be a romance with.

The use of voodoo in this book was very interesting, but could have been expanded. In fact, this seems to be the biggest fault with Royal Street. Though a few ideas and especially the world building was not as extensive as it could have been, as this is just the first of the series, I can only hope that these great ideas are further explored in the next novels, which I will be reading.

3.5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A solid series opener, but..., 30 May 2013
By 
AyJay (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Royal Street (Paperback)
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This series shows promise; I love the voice of DJ, most of the other characters are intriguing [especially Jean :)], the amount of other preternatural aspects for future books in the series is very interesting & is pretty much limitless, and the humour is genuinely funny and isn't forced onto every page, unlike a lot of similar books.

However, there is a but... the pace of the book is uneven - it starts slowly as we are introduced to the main characters, picks up as the mystery elements are introduced, slows again as DJ connects the dots, then ends strongly.

One star down.

***

I've removed another star, but bare in mind that this one is down to my personal reading preference, not down to the author's writing skills. The cliché I hate, the dreaded multiple-love-interest subplot, is present. Having to follow the thoughts of DJ as she drools over two guys is a bore, and it slowed down the book's already uneven pacing more, and distracted me from the main plot. There is also another guy waiting in the background, so I'm wary that DJ - and the author - is going to go all Anita Blake on us in the not too distant future...

Post Twilight this cliché has become over-worn and is now a common problem for me in most new urban fantasy reads; if the book has a female lead, then the authors automatically assume we all want to read about their love lives, and further assumes that we all day-dream about macho alpha types competing for us.... I'll read a romance if I want romance or smut, but when I want urban fantasy I just want to read fantasy in an urban setting.

Rant over.

***

I found the main plot and various characters interesting enough to pick up the second book in the series [River Road (Sentinels of New Orleans 2)], but at the minute this isn't a I-must-sit-up-all-night-to finish-the-book series. It does have the potential to get there though. I just hope that the author drops the love triangle/potential square.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, pacey, and atmospheric read with some flaws, 10 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Royal Street (Paperback)
When Royal Street was first published in the US, I read some reviews for it and thought it sounded as very interesting book, so when I was offered a review copy by the book's UK publisher I didn't hesitate in saying yes, hoping to find out whether my impressions from the blurb and the reviews were correct. What spoke to me most in those reviews was the praise Johnson garnered for her portrayal of New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina. Having watched the horrible after-effects of Katrina on TV and living in a country where about a quarter of its territories are below sea level and thus vulnerable to flooding, this was an element that resonated with me. It turns out that the reviews didn't lie; the portrayal of New Orleans and its survivors was strong and heartfelt.

In addition to the interesting setting, Johnson creates an intriguing magical setting, with a magical community divided into human wizards, who live in our world and the rest of the magical beings who mainly live in the Beyond, but try to crossover to our plane every chance they get. In addition to all the regular supernatural creatures, or preternaturals as they are called in Royal Street, Johnson has added the historical undead, spirits that are being kept alive - or rather undead and kicking - by people's vivid memories and veneration of them. These historical undead make for an interesting ingredient in the world and allow Johnson to include legendary New Orleanians such as Jean Lafitte and Louis Armstrong without having to fabricate a history where they were turned into vampires. The structure of wizarding society into classes divided by skills ruled by the Elders was well thought through and it'll be interesting to see how these Congresses are developed in following instalments of the Sentinels of New Orleans series.

While Royal Street has a very cool protagonist in the person of DJ and some very likeable characters - even one of the villains is likeable- its characters are also where for me the first cracks started to show. As stated, she's a cool character. She's not a big fireworks throwing wizard, she's a Green Congress wizard whose powers manifest through potion and ritual. She's also an empath and Johnson uses this to great effect to show how hard life after Katrina is, when she has DJ move through the city half-shielded. But DJ also has some less enjoyable traits. The one that drove me to distraction most was her constantly harping on about the physical attractiveness of the male characters. After hearing about Alex's imposing physique or Jake's cute dimples two or three times I got the picture, but DJ keeps repeating it. Even to the point that she refers to her opponent's impressive musculature in the middle of a serious fight. This bugged me and I thought it lessened DJ's character.

In addition, there are some predictable plot elements that were somewhat disappointing. First of all, the love triangle - why must there always be a love triangle? - between DJ, Alex, and Jake. I usually dislike love triangles, but in this case it had the added annoyance that there isn't a clear cut preference. It seems as if even the author doesn't know who she wants DJ to end up with, which in my case led me to just being annoyed with DJ for leading both these equally nice guys on. Similarly with a revelation on DJ's bloodlines about three quarters on in the book, which had been telegraphed so clearly that to me at least it wasn't such a big surprise.

Despite these issues, however, I did really enjoy the time I spent in Johnson's New Orleans. Royal Street was a fun and pacey read, that left me looking forward to finding out what happens next. And yes darnit, I do want to know who DJ ends up choosing. If you like your urban fantasy atmospheric and with more than a touch of romance, Royal Street will be right up your alley.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it.., 9 Dec. 2012
By 
Beanie Luck (Cotswolds) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Royal Street (Paperback)
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Drusilla "DJ" Jaco is a 25-year old deputy sentinel and empathetic wizard, an apprentice of sorts to Gerald St. Simon, whose position with the Congress of Elders is to protect the residents of New Orleans from unwanted encounters from entities from the Beyond. But when Hurricane Katrina hits and St. Simon goes missing, the inexperienced Jaco is tasked with not only finding her boss but also protecting the devastated region from supernatural encroachment - the hurricane has opened the borders to the Beyond and chaos is all but inevitable. Her mission is made more difficult when she is partnered with a bravado-pumped enforcer named Alexander Warin, who Jaco initially judges thusly: the "body of an Adonis, brain of an anchovy."

While trying to find St. Simon, Jaco also must also deal with a series of bizarre ritualistic murders while also fending off the oversexed and potentially dangerous ghost of the infamous pirate and privateer Jean Lafitte.

DJ is a wizard who works alongside her boss Gerry to protect New Orleans from the supernatural creatures that are able to cross over from the beyond. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Gerry is missing and the boarders between worlds are thinner than ever, there is a serial killer on the loose and it is up to DJ to try and sort out the mess. The Elders have sent her a new partner to help but can she trust Alex or does he have his own agenda?

The author is a one time resident of New Orleans and was there when Katrina hit, and It is that Katrina element, however, makes me hesitate; there is a level of discomfort in seeing a real tragedy translated into a world of fiction. And these are the elements that stand out most brightly in the novel: the guest appearance of Louis Armstrong with his saxophone, the local undead pirate population, and, of course, the natural and human disasters that were Katrina and New Orleans. A voodoo god stops by and the city is drawn with clear prose and purpose.

The mystery is intriguing, keeping the tension and pressure up to the very end. Because the heroine's strength lies in potion and ritual magic, she's often forced to rely on her smarts and stubbornness rather than magic.

Royal Street is the start of an urban fantasy series that has a lot of potential, there were some problems but I can see these being worked out over time and I'm definitely interested in reading River Road which is due to be published later this year. For a debut novel I was impressed with the world building, I enjoyed the mystery and although I did spot some of the twists in advance there were a few things that managed to surprise me. It will be interesting to see where Suzanne Johnson takes this series and I'm looking forward to seeing more of this world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars After the storm, 7 Oct. 2012
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Royal Street (Paperback)
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A novel of urban fantasy. [A story set in the real world as we know it, but with fantastical things happening just out of the eyes of most people save a few. Just in case you don't know what the terms means].

It runs for just under four hundred pages. Is divided into forty two chapters. And is the first in a series. Although it is relatively self contained as a story, but just leaves the door open for more adventure for the main characters at the end.

Main character is Drusilla Jaco. Known as DJ to most. A lady who lives in New Orleans. And is junior wizard sentinel for the city. She assists the chief sentinel of New Orleans, who prevents people from the worlds beyond getting into this one and causing problems. Drusilla narrates the story in first person present tense.

It's set in 2005. Early chapters do present an interesting picture of the run up to the events that occurred in the city in that year. As people listen to weather reports of a hurricane that is supposed to hit Florida. And then is projected to come ever further west. And folk who have had too many false alarms in regards to this kind of thing don't want to evacuate.

Each chapter does begin with quotes from real news stories that fill you in on the disaster and what happened afterwards.

This is urban fantasy for grown ups so it does begin with a few adult references as Drusilla tries to deal with a pirate ghost. But there's nothing much like that afterwards.

She feels she's ready to deal with bigger issues. But she then has to. When in the wake of Katrina, her boss goes missing. A serial killer strikes the city leaving a strange symbol by each kill. And she has to step into her boss's shoes. Find out what happened to him. Find the killer. And deal with her newly assigned partner. A tough enforcer who deals with threats via direct action.

It could all be very formulaic, and to an extent it is. But Drusilla is a reasonably engaging heroine. She doesn't stand out that much as a character, but she's quite sympathetic. And her relationship with her new partner and his cousin builds slowly and quite believably. Various sub plots involving the murders, her relationships and the city post the hurricane, are all juggled quie well.

This does start to lose a bit of narrative pace just past the halfway point, but it rallies in time for a decent finale. That's only a minor complaint.

There will be further adventures for Drusilla. And the book ends with a short preview of the next in the series.

It's nothing special but it's capable urban fantasy and if you like this kind of thing then it should suffice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sentinels of New Orleans book 1, 16 May 2012
By 
Sarah (Feeling Fictional) (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Royal Street (Paperback)
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DJ is a wizard who works alongside her boss Gerry to protect New Orleans from the supernatural creatures that are able to cross over from the beyond. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Gerry is missing and the boarders between worlds are thinner than ever, there is a serial killer on the loose and it is up to DJ to try and sort out the mess. The Elders have sent her a new partner to help but can she trust Alex or does he have his own agenda?

As a big urban fantasy fan I was drawn to Royal Street as soon as I saw the cover, DJ looks like she is going to be a kick-ass heroine and I was even more intrigued after reading the synopsis. I was a little bit nervous about a story written around a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina, particularly a paranormal one because I thought it could have gone too far and made light of horrific events. In reality I felt that Suzanne Johnson tackled the subject with sensitivity and she really gives a feel for what people must have gone through both during the hurricane and in the aftermath. As someone who wasn't effected personally by the tragedy it really brought home just how bad things must have been in New Orleans at that time.

It would have been easy for the story to become bogged down in the distressing details of the hurricane but there was enough snarky banter between the characters to lighten the tone without being disrespectful. DJ isn't kick-ass in the same way that a lot of urban fantasy heroines are, she isn't the strongest physically and she doesn't have the kind of magical powers that are useful in a fight. In fact her skills lie with creating potions and charms so as long as she has time to prepare things in advance she is fine but it isn't so helpful when she comes under an unexpected attack. I actually quite liked the fact that she was more vulnerable than other heroines but there were times that she makes such stupid decisions that I wanted to shake her. She has some growing up to do and I hope we get to see that happen as the series continues.

When it comes to love interests we have several possibilities. The first one we are introduced to is the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, now we didn' t get to see as much of him as I was hoping for but he definitely has that bad boy vibe going for him and was deliciously dark. I hope he has a bigger role in future books. Then we have DJ's new partner Alex, he has less of a bad boy vibe but is still obviously keeping secrets, he is also very protective of DJ and I enjoyed the banter between the pair of them. Now I'm getting a bit fed up with love triangles so I wasn't particularly happy to find in this case we have what is quickly turning into a love square. Along with Lafitte and Alex you also have Alex's sexy war hero cousin Jake. Admittedly all three men are hot and they each have potential but I was frustrated by the way DJ was constantly flitting between them and it seemed like she was playing them off against each other. I actually felt quite sorry for both Alex and Jake and was a bit worried that she will end up causing a rift in their family.

Royal Street is the start of an urban fantasy series that has a lot of potential, there were some problems but I can see these being worked out over time and I'm definitely interested in reading River Road which is due to be published later this year. For a debut novel I was impressed with the world building, I enjoyed the mystery and although I did spot some of the twists in advance there were a few things that managed to surprise me. It will be interesting to see where Suzanne Johnson takes this series and I'm looking forward to seeing more of this world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Predictable and slow to get moving!, 26 Feb. 2013
By 
Sarah Durston (London) - See all my reviews
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Drusilla Jaco (DJ) is an inexperienced wizard living in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina, when her mentor goes missing. She attempts to find him with the help of the Elders (those who manage and govern magic) and their appointed `enforcer' Alex. DJ must overcome forces from `Beyond'; a drunken pirate and a master of voodoo, as well as exert her independence and ability.

There was a lot to recommend this book. It is the first in a series and if it is seen as an introduction to characters then it's a passable easy read. The description of the devastation after the hurricane was some of the best writing in the book and was written with feeling and sensitivity. Unfortunately, it took too long for the plot to get going and when it did everything that happened was largely predictable.

I would read another in this series but I can't help but feel that Janet Evanovich and other similar authors have mastered this style of writing and this felt like a pale comparison.
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Royal Street
Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson (Paperback - 27 Sept. 2012)
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