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? ~ goodreads
Wicked As They Come is so unlike anything I've ever read. The only way I can describe it is enchanting.
Tish, a nurse, takes a locket with a picture of man inside from the estate of one of her patients that has passed on. The locket calls to her - the enigmatic man pictured inside intrigues her.
After Tish falls asleep that night, she awakens naked, on a slab of rock, discovered by the man in the locket, Criminy Stain, the Blud (vampire) and leader of a traveling circus caravan. He's magical, he's flirtatious and a little bit wild.
Tish thinks she's dreaming but is really in Sang - an alternate steampunk version of London but it's so off the wall weird that I could see how she would think it was a dream. She gets to play dress up in beautiful victorian clothing, accenting her voluptuous figure that is considered pudgy back home, meet a mermaid and flirt unabashedly with the charming Criminy.
There is a teeny weeny love triangle that wasn't too annoying. I actually would have liked either no triangle or to see it played out a little longer. Tish is a great character with an independent steak. It would have been great to see her blossom on her own a little more instead of deciding on a partner over the span of a few days. It felt a little rushed. But as love triangles go this was a fairly painless one. Both Criminy and Casper, a man who shares both worlds like Tish, are great and represent a different future for her.
The world building is where Wicked As They Come really shines. It has the perfect blend of creepy paranormal, whimsy, magic, steampunk and danger. There are what would be considered adorable little woodland creatures in our world, like bunnies for example, however, the Sang Blud versions will rip your flesh off to the bone. The steampunk elements were a blast with clockwork monkey's and snakes. The vampire lore was fresh and original.
"Did you dream that?" he said.
"The rabbit? Sure, I suppose I did," I said. "He's a cutie. Probably represents my kindness. Or innocence. Something like that."
The rabbit sniffed my foot, nose twitching, eyes bright. I smiled.
And then it bit me, sinking fangs into my bare ankle."
The romance is a major part of the story but only one aspect as Criminy and Tish rush to save the Blud race and keep Tish's options for the future open after her locket is stolen. The locket allows Tish to travel back and forth between worlds. Without it she wouldn't be able to return home to her Grandmother.
There is a lot going on in this book that I haven't even touched on and yet it moved at a somewhat languid pace. That's not a criticism at all. The world is really richly developed and that takes time. Wicked As They Come felt like it was more about the journey than the destination if that makes any sense. I for one enjoyed the journey.
Rating: 3.5 out of 4 It took me a little while to warm up to Criminy as a love interest. Sometimes Criminy was just a shade too crazy pants for me but his heart is truer than true and he was quite the romantic. This is a nice slow brewing romance. Sang is such a wonderful, magical, frightening place to get lost in and this is definitely a series I'll be sticking with. I'm really looking forward to the next book (Wicked As She Wants - Pocket Books 2013) after reading the teaser chapter at the end of this book. This particular adventure was wrapped up nicely but it seems that Criminy, Tish and company have quite a few more twists and turns in store.
Author: website | twitter
Publisher: Pocket Books
Buy the book! Wicked as They Come (Blud)