I had a lot of fun reading Stormwalker. I normally don't pick up paranormal romances, because I'm not usually in the mood to read a lot of sex, but even though there was a few sex scenes in this book, I didn't find myself rolling my eyes, or thinking "oh gag" due to overly mushy or purple prose. Which is refreshing, because sometimes, even in an urban fantasy (which I would expect to have pure adventure with maybe a bit of sexual tension, not a lot) where you are dealing with kick-ass women, sometimes you get some very mushy, way too tender scenes that don't fit in (well, to me they don't fit in). I'm just over the that, if I want romance, I look for a romance book. ANYWAY - that's why I usually don't pick up a paranormal romance, but I have to say that this book didn't seem to follow that paranormal romance formula (THANK god).
This is about Janet Begay - who is a stormwalker. She can pull power from storms and use the power as magic. She also has a bit of a problem - she has two types of power battling inside her. Her grandmother is a Navajo magic woman. Her mother a mysterious figure. She grew up on Navajo land, with her father's family feeling like an outcast (ME TOO! not a Navajo, but I felt different than the rest of my family) She has quite a past....and quite a boyfriend from the past that shows up. He is the only person that could "siphon off' her excess energy after using storm magic, and the only time she didn't feel a horrible hangover is when her boyfriend Mick used her excess energy.
In this novel, Janet has come to a small town to look for a missing daughter of the police chief. She has also bought an old abandoned hotel and is trying to renovate it to keep busy and have a place to stay. While she is dealing with finding a person who has been missing for a year, and trying to renovate a motel she has to deal with some hostile people (the missing girl's fiancee, who also happens to be sheriff), a coyote trickster, a snarky magic mirror (I want one) and her own magic mother who is making her presence known.
I enjoyed the narration and the dialogue of this novel. There's one electrician that's been hired that just hates Janet, and yet Janet tries to make friends with her in a snarky way. The sheriff is a by-the-book sheriff that harasses Janet as much as he can, within the law. Mick - her ex-boyfriend shows up and refuses to leave, because he wants to protect Janet and Janet can't seem to force the issue.
All of this could have been a melodramatic mess, but Allyson James works it in such a way it seemed to work well together. There were also bits and pieces of Navajo customs that were interesting to read - tidbits about characters of Navajo people and some of the rituals. I would have liked to read more about that, but it might have turned into a textbook. There is a sequel (Firewalker) releasing in November, so hopefully there will continue to be bits and pieces of the Navajo culture woven into that book as well.
The main character and a lot of the other characters were Navajo or Mexican, which reflects more accurately the world I live in - which is nice to have in books. I wished the cover model of the book looked more Navajo. She has the dark eyes, and looks like she might have olive toned skin, but it's hard to tell. There are lots of clouds and lightening and an odd tint to the woman, possibly depicting evening, but the woman is not obviously Navajo, other than the silver band on her bicep, or the turquoise jewelry at her neck, and the long hair, which with most Indian women who follow a lot of the old ways, would be a lot longer. But Janet is supposed to be a bit of a renegade. I know a few caucasion women of a certain age (50's) that all wear this type of jewelry - it was quite a fashion fad for awhile.
Stormwalker was a nice blend of mystery, adventure, urban fantasy, a touch of romance and Navajo Lore. I enjoyed it because it never got gushy or mushy in spite of the paranormal romance tag. I enjoyed it enough to keep my eye out for the second book, Firewalker. There were some parts where Janet kicks the crap out people, times where she makes a stupid decision that comes back to her, but it was a fun read and the character acknowledges her mistakes. There's only one part that had me going..."come on!" and that 's when Janet finally finds out the big mystery of why Mick can handle her extreme magic, but that's just me - the book as a whole was fun to read.