If you are in need of a steamy romance, steamy as in steampunk, “Wicked as They Come” by Delilah S. Dawson is the romance book for you. Dawson creates another world, a world that people can pass into in their sleep. Ever wonder where coma patients go? They go to Sang – a world that runs on blood.
I admit that the beginning of the book was rushed and uninteresting as the main character, Tish, goes about her day as a home care nurse. When she picks up an old ruby locket at an estate sale, the story begins to spark my interest. The locket, placed in her world by the mysterious and enchanting Criminy Stain, transports her to another world where blood is money and steam is power.
The setting is grim, like the dark ages in England with a Victorian fashion twist. Dawson reinvents the vampire and renames them “Bludmen.” This “vampirism” does not only extend to humans (continuously referred to as “pinkies”) but also animals such as “bludbunnies” who nip furiously at Tish’s feet when she arrives, naked, in a dense forest. They seem to have no aversion to sunlight and garlic is just another ingredient that makes food delicious. The only way for a pinkie to defend themselves is to drink the blood of a bludman, they blood makes them taste…undesirable.
The first Bludman Tish encounters is Criminy Stain, a darkly dashing ringmaster of a traveling circus. While seeming like a proper Victorian gentleman, he makes his insatiable lust known to Tish. He teases her with his rude tongue, not-so-causal caresses, and devilish eyes. The building sexual tension between Stain and Tish was what really kept me reading. While Tish keeps brushing off his advances, the reader can not help but think “Just do it already like all the other romance novels.” Sorry ladies, she does not relent to his dark charms until the last third of the book. But isn’t the chase more fun to read?
What really drew me to this particular book was the circus caravan. Because of the dangers of exposing flesh, most of the circus is comprised of steam powered automatons. There are also small, intricate robots that act as personal guards masquerading as snakes or monkeys. But is the book really steampunk? Yes and no. There is steam power, victorian dress, and it takes place in an alternate London BUT I feel that this is more paranormal romance than a steampunk romance. Perhaps we should re-categorize it as paranormal steampunk romance?
If you want a “read-it-in-a-day” romance with some steampunk elements, then this should work perfectly. If you looking for some hardcore steampunk, look elsewhere.
*Featured image “The Raven” by Viona – Check out her work!
- Book Review of Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson (abookwormshaven.com)