Occasionally I get to do a show entitled Talking Shit with Dave and Earl. A friend of mine, Kristin, gathers together a group of people and we spend an hour or two talking about random topics that interest everyone that evening.
It was on one of these appearances that I had the great fortune to meet two very cool authors. Karina Cooper, author of the Dark Mission series, and Delilah S Dawson, author of the Blud series. They were both kind, clever, and funny as shit. It ended up being a great time filled with fun conversation.
The next day I set out to find books by both of them. I downloaded Wicked Lies which I will discuss at a later date and picked up Wicked As They Come by Mrs. Dawson.
Wicked As They Come is a blend of steampunk, fantasy, and paranormal romance. These may not sounds like elements that would go together well but Mrs. Dawson combines them in an elegant fashion.
The tale begins with one of my favorite fantasy tropes. The heroine is transported from her mundane life in our world to a magical land. In this case, Letitia purloins an antique locket from the estate sale of one of her deceased patients which whisks her away to the land of Sang. This is a world similar to our own but populated by vampires of every stripe with normal humans being the minority. I love this trope as it plays with the idea being a fish out of water while posing the question of which of these worlds be more valued. Watching the protagonist deal with these issues is something I find infinitely entertaining.
Letitia is a nurse in the normal world. She cares for those with the ability to stay in their home despite the degree of their infirmity. She is finally begin to recover from a bad relationship while caring for grandmother whom is dying of cancer. The locket, it is discovered, was sent to this world to find Criminy Stain the woman of his dreams. He is a bludman, a variant on the vampire, a magician, a gypsy, and the owner of a traveling circus. He is recovering from a lost love and would see his heart mended through the magic of the locket. What follows is a dance as these two individuals try to find their footing with one another while Letitia decides in which world she will stay.
The steampunk elements are well done but understated. The dress and mannerisms of the people of Sang have a very Victorian feel without the high-handed morality that sometimes come along with it. Prejudice does rear its ugly head in the fashion that the bludded are treated but it shown as weakness that should be fought against. I especially appreciated how she shows the bludded striving to fit in with those that treat them with disdain. This struck a chord with me. There are also zeppelins, dirigibles, wind-up carriages, and submarines to which will keep any hardcore steampunk fan filled with glee.
Lest I forget, the paranormal romance is done well without being schmaltzy. The vampire hero is lithe and winsome as one has come to expect in the genre. Thankfully Mrs. Dawson goes against stereotype in that he does not eschew the monster. Where one would expect to hear scads of prose telling Letitia to stay away, you get all the reasons that this makes him a good match. I also enjoyed that instead of being domineering and controlling, Criminy allows Letitia to come to her own conclusions about him and where she would like to stay. Instead of making it a contest, he just is who he is and hopes that this is enough. A refreshing take on the paranormal romance love interest.
All in all, I was glad to have met Delilah Dawson and really enjoyed this first book in her Blud series. I am looking forward to picking up the next one.