About the Book
When nurse Tish Everett forced open the pesky but lovely locket she found at an estate sale, she had no idea she was answering the call of Criminy Stain, from the far off land of Sang. He’d cast a spell for her, but when she’s transported right to him, she’s not so sure she’s ready to be under the spell of another man. (It didn’t go so well last time with controlling, abusive, domineering Jeff.) If only Criminy wasn’t so deliciously rakish….
Half the inhabitants of Sang are Pinkies—human—and the other half are Bludmen, who in Tish’s world would be called vampires. But they don’t mess with any of the bat/coffin/no sunlight nonsense. They’re rather like you and me, just more fabulous, long living, and mostly indestructible. (They’re also very good kissers.) But when the evil Mayor of Manchester (formerly Bludchester) redoubles his efforts to rid Sang of the Bludmen once and for all, stealing Tish’s locket in hopes of traveling back to her world himself for reinforcements, Criminy and Tish must battle ghosts, sea monsters, wayward submarines, a secret cabal, and thundering Bludmares to get the locket back and allow Tish to return home…but has she found love with Criminy? Could she stay in Sang forever?
I’ve been really stressed out for a few weeks. The whole cancer thing has really been weighing me down, and it’s been cramping my reading style. Now that my treatment has started, I feel sick, and very emotionally, well, emotional. I’ve been veering toward pure popcorn – the books that take me on a mental vacation. I have need an escape right now. I’ve really craved the sort of books that have made me feel like I’m not, well, me. And, added to that, I’ve been wanting something that tugs at my heartstrings a bit. (I know, at this point you’re saying, “Sarah, you have a heart?”). Yes, darling readers, I’ve been reading some romantic books. Apparently sometimes I need to remember that not everything is stress, worry, and anger.
Weird, right? Well, I’ve needed that sort of thing, and I’m all about stretching my own boundaries, so….
Most romance, even in my romance mood, still annoys me. However, I’m always anxious to see what else is out there, which is why I ended up giving Wicked as they Come a fair chance. I had to kind of force myself to look past the half unclothed, hunky guy on the cover. He’s different enough to make me wonder, but still, half clothed men on the covers of books put me in the mind of paranormal romance (a genre I seriously struggle with).
Wicked as they Come is dealing with portal fantasy (of a sort), which is a type of fantasy that I’m not very good at. As with most romance books, it is fairly obvious to see who ends up with who from the get-go. That’s not really why Wicked as they Come deserves attention. The reason why this book pleased me despite its faults is because Dawson does something that I didn’t expect. There’s a plot here that doesn’t revolve around some fair maiden and her alpha male hunky sidekick beating up all the baddies and saving the entire world whilest falling in some incredible soulmate eternal (nauseating) love.
The actual plot is fairly straightforward and simple, but sometimes it’s the simplicity that really works better than any extreme complexities. The simplicity in this case allows Dawson to really focus on her world and characters, and it pays off. Her smooth writing coupled with her unique, steampunk world and culture, has the ability to instantly hook and absorb readers. Her obvious skill as an author will help readers over any stumbling blocks they might come across. Honestly, it quickly got to the point where the minor issues stopped phasing me because Dawson’s writing was so addictive.
There are, of course, aspects of the world that you’ll just have to accept without thinking about too deeply. For example, in such different worlds, why is the language pretty similar? How on earth does Tish end up in (steampunk) England, when she was living in the South? And I never really did understand why wanderers like Tish so known, accepted, and understood.
Yes, there are problems. There are leaps of logic that bothered me throughout the book. There are world building issues that crawled under my skin a few times. However, a lot can be forgiven in the face of a unique, well told story that scratches all the delicious popcorn requirements I’m currently dealing with.
The romance really is no surprise, but it develops nicely, and slower than I expected, and sweeter. I enjoyed the fact that Tish had her own goals and aims, and she didn’t end up being The One Who Would Save The World on the Arm Of Alpha Male Hunk. Criminy remained pretty mysterious throughout, and never really felt as real as I wanted him to, though he was endearing and his humor kept things light when they could have become overrun with darkness.
So here’s the thing. Dawson writes unique romance. It’s the kind of romance I can get behind. The romantic couple are formed of two individual people, who function independently of each other, and don’t act like one person with two (sexiest ever) heads. The steampunk world, with the fantastic twist on vampires was very well done. Tish was a character I could get behind, and Criminy continually made me laugh. Yes, there are some world building problems, and the plot is pretty predictable, but Dawson really takes romance by the horns, twist it and makes it her own.
I don’t think I will ever be a huge fan of romance heavy books, but sometimes that’s the sort of thing I need to get me through the absolute awful emotional trial my life has become recently. I’m really glad I ran across Dawson’s books, because she is taking something predictable, something that generally exhausts me, and making it her own. There’s a plot here, actual characters, and a fascinating setting. This isn’t really romance, and it’s not really fantasy. It’s just… Dawson. Plain and simple.
And I liked it.