Seeking Kokopelli by Shelley Munro
Love never hits a wrong note.
Ever since Nate McKenzie hired on as a roadie, musician Adam James has lusted after him. So far Adam has kept his distance, knowing Nate is mourning his dead wife. But lately Adam has caught the man returning his stares. Maybe it-s time to test the waters.
Besides, there isn-t much chance Nate will find out that Adam was once his people-s Kokopelli. His powers were stripped from him, along with the magical tattoo on his chest, when his orientation was discovered.
Nate is going crazy with guilt. Before his wife-s death, he never looked at anyone else, woman or man. Now his dreams are filled with Adam. He tries to keep his mind on his job and off Adam-s sexy body, but in a moment of weakness they share a kiss that sends them both up in flames.
Their relationship risks both their hearts and Adam-s female fan base, but the attraction is too strong to ignore. Then someone takes a shot at Adam-and his tattoo begins to reappear, forcing him to come clean with his lover. And Nate to decide exactly where his future lies-before a killer steals it away from them.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’ll be honest that I picked this book due to the cover. The tattooed guy plus rock band? Sounds delicious to me. Seeking Kokopelli has a good premise, some interesting characters, and an easy pace that makes for some nice, light reading. There are a few things that tripped me up and ultimately made this a story I wouldn’t want to revisit but it’s a decent offering that will likely appeal to fans looking for something easy and undemanding with a touch of paranormal but not too much.
Adam James is a talented musician with a painful past. He comes from a family with deep mystical roots, carrying the magic of the Kokopelli. This magic offers fertility to its people in the form of plentiful crops and children. The James’ family men carry the lineage and the keeper of this magic is denoted by a vivid tattoo. Although Adam held this magic, his family and community threw him out when they discovered he was gay, transferring his magic to his brother, Justin. Justin wants to ensure he keeps the magic to himself and sees Adam as a rival when the community talks of wanting Adam to return.
Yet Adam is happy in his life with the band and finally seeing the fruits of his labors from a long, subtle seduction of band roadie Nate. Nate and Adam have strong chemistry and are exploring their relationship; one that Adam fears is fragile enough without bringing in family history and magic to the equation. Adam, Nate, and the band come together to get to the bottom of who’s trying to hurt Adam while Nate tries to overcome his own past issues to commit to Adam.
The plot itself is mostly decent with a few moments when things are a little too easily solved or actually left hanging. The story follows Adam as he and Nate slowly form a romantic relationship, amid all of Nate’s misgivings and fears. At the same time, Adam’s brother Justin is trying to kill Adam to ensure Justin keeps the benefits of being the Kokopelli. There is no spoiler to say Justin is the “culprit” since this element is introduced very early on and never meant to be a surprise twist. Instead we follow as Justin slowly redeems himself with the love of a good woman, which lets Adam comes to grips with his bitterness and resentment towards his family.
This element is nice if you can buy into the story and go along for the ride. There are a few moments where everything seems too easy and unimportant, such as when Adam is grazed by a bullet but it’s no big deal. Other instances are when the cops don’t take a shooting very seriously or the big time assassin looses his cool because he just can’t seem to kill Adam. These aren’t eye rolling moments but feel too easy and pat, letting the story move on without worrying too much about a complicated storyline to kill Adam. The resolution to Justin, Adam, and the Kokopelli isn’t included in the story, but instead everyone says they’ll work something out. I wasn’t too bothered by the hanging thread since the resolution seems obvious to me but perhaps the author is intending a second book to deal with this.
The characters are decent, if not terribly exciting. They were interesting enough to read and Adam’s patience in waiting for Nate is almost that of a saint. Nate is more confusing and didn’t make a lot of sense. He says early on that he is attracted to men and women both but fell in love with his wife and that was it. Unfortunately he then seems to go back and forth claiming he’s not gay and not attracted to men, yet he is and has acted on it in the past. But he does this hot and cold act with Adam that doesn’t make sense. Nate even claims “Besides, he wasn’t gay. He didn’t believe in labels. It was the person who attracted him—their personality. It had nothing to do with male or female.” This is confusing for me since if Nate doesn’t care about labels, why is he so determined not to be with Adam since he’s not gay?
The tension between Nate and Adam centers around Nate not willing to commit and really engage in a full relationship with Adam since he’s not gay. Given that Nate is attracted to men and mentions acting on it in the past, I found his refusal odd and spent a good portion of the book wondering why they were fighting in the first place. Similarly, Adam’s Kokopelli tattoo seems to turn on and off at will. At the beginning of the book, Nate mentions this “He tried not to think about the impressive male bulge, the tight ass and the tattoo that covered one shoulder. Nate dreamed about smoothing his tongue over the fancy whorls of that tattoo.” But later Nate makes the comment “Nate pushed away, lifting the covers in the process. He paused, a frown on his face as he stared at Adam’s chest. “When did you get the Kokopelli tattoo? It wasn’t there yesterday.”
So the tattoo was there at the beginning of the book, faded, and came back? Or it wasn’t there at the beginning and was meant to be there at the end? I couldn’t quite get a handle on when the tattoo was supposed to be present, although it’s magical and seems to appear/disappear at will so maybe that’s it. It made me pause several times though and kept jerking me out of the reading experience. Other than that the writing is decent and the prose has a nice, smooth narrative style that keeps the pace light and quick. As a fun, quick read I can see fans enjoying this as long as those few qualms I had wouldn’t bother them.