TITLE: Wicked As They Come
AUTHOR: Delilah S. Dawson
SERIES: Blud #1
PUBLISHER: Pocket Books
PUBLICATION DATE: March 27, 2012
This book was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Have you ever heard of a Bludman? They’re rather like you and me—only more fabulous, immortal, and mostly indestructible. (They’re also very good kissers.)
Delilah S. Dawson’s darkly tempting debut drops her unsuspecting heroine into a strange faraway land for a romantic adventure that’s part paranormal, part steampunk . . . and completely irresistible.
When Tish Everett forces open the ruby locket she finds at an estate sale, she has no idea that a deliciously rakish Bludman has cast a spell just for her. She wakes up in a surreal world, where Criminy Stain, the dashing proprietor of a magical traveling circus, curiously awaits. At Criminy’s electric touch, Tish glimpses a tantalizing future, but she also foresees her ultimate doom. Before she can decide whether to risk her fate with the charming daredevil, the locket disappears, and with it, her only chance to return home. Tish and Criminy battle roaring sea monsters and thundering bludmares, vengeful ghosts and crooked Coppers in a treacherous race to recover the necklace from the evil Blud-hating Magistrate. But if they succeed, will Tish forsake her fanged suitor and return to her normal life, or will she take a chance on an unpredictable but dangerous destiny with the Bludman she’s coming to love?
This book was seriously sexy and surprisingly sweet; one part madcap adventure, and two parts otherworldly romance. Delilah S. Dawson creates an original and magical world with her new Blud series and I, for one, am looking forward to reading her next installment.
One of Dawson’s major strengths with this novel is the original world she creates in a genre that has really done it all. An unusual locket transports Tish Everett, an in-home care nurse rebuilding her life after an abusive relationship, into another world, a world called Sang. It is a world like ours with little twists that make it dramatically different. For instance, there are towns called London and Manchester, but people have names like Criminy Stain and Tabitha Scowl; book titles include Dignity and Discrimination, The Collected Works of Willem Sharkspear, and Peace and War. It is a world where Bludmen exist – a people that are vampire-like but are not dead, they drink blood (but no longer directly from people), and they are not immortal but live longer and are stronger than Pinkies (humans like you and me). And they are essentially second-class citizens in a world where their “prey” lives in fear of them and persecutes and ghettoizes them. Throw in steampunk elements like pill shaped submarines and clockworks (mechanical animals) and you have a world that is so surreal, so very different yet with a touch of normalcy, that you can understand how Tish can think she is in a dream. Oh, and did I mention the Bludbunnies and Bludrats? I loved the originality of this world and felt it was very different from anything I’d read. I particularly liked the twist on the image of the vampire. The fact that they can be killed, but not easily, and while powerful, were not in power. This was a nice original twist to the vampire mythos I normally read in UF/PNR novels. This was good world-building and it made me curious to see where Dawson can take it.
“I’m not scared,” I said. “It’s my dream. Nothing can harm me.”
“A dream? he said, one arched eyebrow raised. “You think this is a dream?”
“I know it is,” I said coolly.
He grinned. “Sweetheart, you couldn’t conjure me if you tried.”
Criminy Stain is a great character. A Bludman-magician-traveling carnival act owner, he helps Tish come into her own and gives her the adventure she needs and craves. His is a good mixture of tender sweetness but with hints at a capacity for violence. It was a nice mix that kept an edge to the budding but unsure romance between the two. He also says sexy things like the exchange above and has some lines that made me laugh out loud.
“I don’t know,” I said, exasperated. “What else do you have in your wacked-out world? Heat sensors? Mine fields? Dirigibles? Booby traps? Machine guns? Shrink rays? What?”
“Aside from dirigibles, which are rather expensive and rare outside of trade routes, most of what you just said made no sense whatsoever,” he said, as delighted as a child hearing a foreign language for the first time. “But it all sounds very dangerous. And fun. Especially the part about the boobies.”
And I always like relatable female characters in UF/PNR novels. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good kick ass heroine who has ninja-like fighting skills, a doctorate in nuclear science, a sharp wit, and looks like a goddess. Love that. But every once in a while, I just like a normal woman that comes into her own and Tish was that woman. While she does discover she has a special gift in the world of Sang, it is her intelligence and growing confidence that help propel her forward in this new world.
The romance between Criminy and Tish is sweet and sexy…and unsure. They feel an immediate connection but Tish desperately wants to maintain her independence in the wake of her failed abusive relationship. Enter Casper who gives Criminy some competition for her heart. Steamy scenes are very well-written, hit the right note, and come at the perfect time (pun intended).
Finally, there were good, unexpected twists in this story. I don’t want to go into too much detail but there are other people Tish meets who are not of Sang, and the paperback edition at least includes a chapter teaser from book two that has me very curious about where Dawson plans on taking us in this new world.
I give Wicked As They Come a solid four howls for its sweet and sexy romantic elements, original world, and great characters.