Wicked as They Come - Delilah S. Dawson Title: Wicked as they come

Author: Delilah Dawson

Genre: Paranormal Romance

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?
The beginning starts a little slow for me but only because Ms. Dawson spends a lot of time introducing the world and its inhabitants to us and Tish. Not that I objected but it’s not until the halfway mark that the action picks up and Tish’s adventure really starts.

There are three main characters in here. Tish Everett, Criminy Stain, and Jonah Goodwill. Tish Everett is a likable heroine whose actions and emotions are realistic for what she is going through. Called a Stranger, she is the rare human that travels to Sang through her dreams. Burdened with some heavy baggage and emotional scars, she finds herself somewhat overwhelmed by all that has happened. She has been dropped into an alternative world with a man who speaks to her at a level that scares her to death, she has no idea if she can go home, and she’s on the low end of the evolutionary food chain. Even the bunnies are more dangerous than her.

“Did you dream that?” he asked
“The rabbit? Sure, I suppose I did. 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.

She is understandably upset. She adapts easier to the world and its inhabitants better than the romance. At times I found her fear of love and unwillingness to be honest with herself trying. She equivocates love with captivity and fights to avoid anything like that with a passion. While it’s understandable after what she went through, it’s still irritating at times. Even with her stubbornness, her intelligence, humor, and genuine joy of life is appealing.

Criminy Stain has to be the most delightful hero I have run across in a while. Born a bludman, he is like a vampire where he drinks blood but follows none of the other stereotypes. Though he is stronger, has a longer then average longevity, and can heal faster then humans, he is still alive. He can walk in the sun, and garlic, stakes, ect…don’t work on him. An alpha-beta mix, he is an naughty rogue who’s strong will, playful personality, and kind heart hides a romantic streak a mile wide. How can you not love a man who wishes for his own true love? And then waits forever for her to come, because his belief in her is that strong? When he finds Tish he instantly knows she has to be handled carefully. He delights her, confounds her, intrigues her and charms her. He knows he must keep her own her toes if his wish is to come true. I love he never demands but rather nudges her; wanting her explore and be everything she can without changing a single piece of her. Even if she chooses to leave him, he is willing to let her go because of that love. He’s not perfect but you can’t help but fall in love with him yourself.

Jonah Goodwill is a human and a Stranger like Tess. Having lived in Sang for 20 years, he has grown to hate it . As we divulge deeper into the story, his motives for hating it are given life.

The chemistry between Tish and Criminy is a sweet and romantic with a healthy dose of ribald humor. I love watching their romance unfold, never knowing what would happen. Ms. Dawson doesn’t make it easy for them but then as Criminy says, “Nothing easy is worth having.” There is a small love triangle that is a little bothersome but it is used more as a learning experience for Tish than anything else. There are some smexy love scenes that give you just enough then fade out and you are required to use your imagination. Thankfully, I have LOTS of imagination.

Grade B
Review by: Helen