I have to admit that I bought this book based on the cover. I rarely do that, having been burned one too many times, but this one just screamed “Buy ME!” So I did. To be honest, I went into it not expecting much but I was sucked into the relatable heroine’s world gone wacky right away.
Tish is just piecing her life together after a breakup with an overbearing alpha-hole. She spends her time caring for hospice patients and her ailing Nana and is living alone with her kitty and enjoying her newfound independence. While visiting an estate sale she somewhat accidentally walks away with an ancient locket that she can’t resist touching. She takes it home, none too easily pries it open and red liquid pours out revealing the photo of a devilishly rakish man. Then she goes to sleep and that’s when the lovely weirdness that is the rest of this story kicks into high gear.
Tish awakens naked and in a strange world called Sang where her locket man has come to vivid life. He tells her he is Criminy Stain and that it was his charmed locket that brought her to Sang after he sent it out “to find the right one” and that he’s been waiting especially for her for oh-so-long. Tish doesn’t take this turn of events well. He’s gorgeous and all but she thinks him a bit loony with his sarcasm and funny little fits of dancing. He then explains that he’s a bludman who thrives on blood, which explains the pointy teeth, and that she must get covered up from head to toe ASAP because she’s a “pinkie” and the bludbunnies(!) of his world would love nothing more than to feast upon her lovely flesh. And because she’s a stranger in his dangerous world, the “coppers” will also be out to get her. He brings her back to his travelling caravan where she is dressed in lovely Victorian garb and given a place as a fortune teller. Criminy has discovered that she is a “glancer” and can read people with just a touch. He proceeds to declare his joy at finding her but she is not so easily taken by his pretty face. At least not right away. She wants to go home and she’s crushing on another sensitive, hunky “pinkie” she’s met in the caravan. Her reactions and confused feelings are believable and I loved the fact that she didn’t fall all over Criminy immediately even though she admits (if only to herself) that she finds him too seductive for own good. Poor Tish!
This book surprised me in many ways with not only its quirky world filled with clockwork animals and bloodsucking beasts but also with the way the author handled the building of Criminy and Tish’s relationship. Oftentimes I wasn’t sure how it would all end. But it’s Criminy, of course, who really steals the show. He is adorably sweet and sarcastic and seems so very lonely but he also has a dangerous, darker side and takes care of his people. He’s devoted and 100% committed to Tish from the moment they meet. This love at first sight thing will usually set my teeth on edge but here it worked because in a nifty twist it’s the heroine who is uncertain about her feelings and they have to work at making it all work. Or as Criminy laments “nothing worth having ever comes easy”. They also both have a wicked sense of humor and spend a lot of time laughing like maniacs. This completely charmed me. I wish more fictional characters would laugh like idiots over silliness. It clearly proved just how much they enjoyed being with each other.
The last part of the book was filled with adventure and the ending wasn’t tied up all nice and neat like with a pretty pink bow which I appreciated. The only thing keeping this from a full 5 star rating comes down to my aversion to too much action-adventure. I would have preferred a little less adventure in the last half and a little more time spent getting to know the folks in the caravan better. But who knows, that may happen in the upcoming sequel which tells the story of hunky musician Casper Sterling. I can’t wait to find out!