Maria's Reviews > Wicked as They Come

Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson
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Jul 31, 13

bookshelves: gaslamp-fantasy, paranormal-romance, steampunk, romance
Read from July 30 to 31, 2013

I'm so torn! This book has three things that I usually struggle with in novels: time travel, first person POV, and a thoroughly unnecessary and useless love triangle. I've actually owned this book since it's release and put off reading it because I thought I would hate it and then have to force myself to finish it. Imagine my surprise when I found myself racing through it in a single day, practically unable to put it down. Huh.

What I thought was done well:

I've read a LOT of stuff classified "Steampunk" in the last couple of years, and this book definitely stands up in terms of world building and unique story telling. It turns out that there really isn't time travel, rather alternate dimensions with a slight timelag, and this alternate dimension has a Wizard of Oz/Alice in Wonderland/20,000 Leagues Under the Sea brand of insanity that comes with it. There were Steampunk elements throughout, but they are subtle, and used in a way that feels natural and appropriate to the story. All this seems like a lot to process, but it was fun, and pretty well thought out.

Sang is a place with two hominid species: The Pinkies (who are human) and the Bludmen (who are a vampire species). There's the usual differences humans and vampires in that Pinkies are plant and meat eaters, and the Bludmen consume blood. But the Bludmen are not immortal, and they are far more apt to drink bottled donated blood, which is used in currency. The Pinkies take no chances though, and cover all available skin as a way to reduce their level of temptation to the Bludmen. There is a sense that these two species could work very well together if the political system would allow for it. It's an interesting take on vampire mythology that makes for a more interesting plot.

I also appreciate that the sexual relationship between Tish Everett and Criminy Stain doesn't happen right at the beginning, even though Tish is summoned to Sang because of Criminy's magic. They actually spend time together and learn about each other before jumping into bed, and their sexual relationship feels appropriate to their relationship and furthers the narrative. I like romantic sex scenes as much as the next girl, but I'm sick unto death of romances that are veiled excuses to write dozens of pages of detailed and graphic prose about how a man who is hung like a horse is sexing up the heroine.

Stuff that made me go "Aaaaaaaaargh!!!!!":

The book introduces a character is the third part of a love triangle, but the reality is that there's never really any doubt how the story's HEA is going to go, which rendered the love triangle pretty much useless. I like Casper as a character, but his presence exists mostly to create a false 'choice' for our heroine. Tish Everett was horribly abused in her marriage, and is determined to be her own woman, and Casper's job in the text (if he has one) is to empower her by making her feel like she chose Criminy Stain. Since she already has to make a choice (between staying in Sang or returning to her own reality) this additional choice simply seems to muck up the works.

And speaking of men, let's get back to Tish and the abuse she suffered during her marriage. She spends a lot of the book fighting for the right to make her own choices, and Criminy seems to be the guy to let her be her own woman and give her freedom, so why did it feel like she wasn't really making choices at all? He's a little bipolar in his swings between "You need to make your own decisions" and "Oooh, Oooooh, you better pick me!!" with a healthy dose of emotional blackmail thrown in. I just can't decide if he's a good guy or not, because he is, and isn't. But maybe his internal conflict is a good thing, and prevents him from becoming unrealistically self-sacrificial?

Another *facepalm* aspect of the book is the villain. He's...just...kinda lame. He has a plan, but it's the kind of plan that made me wonder how the heck he rose to power and why the heck he stays there. His eventual downfall is entirely predictable,

Final Analysis:

I would recommend this story to readers who like steampunk or paranormal romances. The writing is good, and the world building is among the best I've read in this genre. There will likely be a few things that will be problematic, but overall this is a vivid, interesting world that will keep you engaged from beginning to end.
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Reading Progress

07/30/2013 marked as: currently-reading
07/30/2013 page 306
77.0% "A lone tear coursed down the dust on my face. Something in my heart cracked wide with the sound of the door on a birdcage opening, showing blue sky and freedom beyond."
07/31/2013 marked as: read

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