I heard such wonderful things about this book when it first came out and I had plans of reading it right away. Needless to say, I’m just now getting to it. But the good thing about books is that they don’t sour with age because this one met up to expectations and then some. I was enthralled by the enigmatic, but oh so wonderful hero, Criminy Stain and the creative worldbuilding of Stang.
Tish, is a home care nurse and she loves her job of caring for the mostly elderly people- which include her own grandmother- on her route, but what she loves most is her newly found freedom since she left her domineering and demanding ex-husband behind. She is free and makes her own choices and she intends to keep it that way. Something out of the ordinary happens when she attends the estate sale of one of her recently departed patience. She finds an unusual locket. She inadvertently takes it when she gets called to one of her cases. At home, she goes to open the locket only to get spattered with acid-like red blood that stains her palm. Under the blood is the picture of an attractive man that seems to have a challenging expression on his face.
Tish falls asleep with the locket about her neck and wakes up in what she thinks is a dream because there before her is the man from the locket. Criminy Stain puts her off kilter right from the beginning when he tells her that he summoned her through magic, that she is not dreaming, but in another world, and that she is to stay with Criminy who is the master of a gypsy traveling circus. Tish goes along with Criminy after seeing her first fanged and bloodthirsty bunny. Criminy tells her of the world she has entered with its Pinkies like her because they have pink skin, the people of the blud like Criminy who drink blud, the Coppers who used to protect the pinkies, but now rule, and of course the wild animals that are all blud. Blood is a currency just like money and there is a fragile peace between the two types of people though the pinkies have the power at the moment. And there is something else that Tish discovers quickly. She has the gift of seeing peoples pasts or their futures. Her gift will give her employment in the circus.
Tish now known as Letitia finds herself of interest to the other members of Criminy’s circus from those who are jealous to one who is interested in her. Criminy wants her, but he gives her space after making his wishes known, but at first all Letitia wants is to get back to her own world and life though she is pulled to Criminy and another man. Then she learns that the locket allows her to go back and forth when she falls asleep giving her time to investigate her interest in Criminy’s world while still being able to spend time with her grandmother in her home world. This doesn’t last because then the locket is stolen and the man who took it has plans to use it against all the bludmen and destroy them all. Thus begins the exciting journey and adventure for Letitia and Criminy that lead her to make her ultimate choice.
The story is all told from Letitia’s point of view. I liked how Letitia is a flawed person who starts out so stubborn, untrusting, and willing to settle for safe and mundane because of the way her last relationship burned her. Criminy and his world represents danger and uncertainty even while it is exciting and challenging. Criminy was total hero material and I just loved when she started to really see his worth beyond thinking he was just an oddity and her protector. Letitia’s adventures start to mold her into someone new who is barely recognizable from the woman she started as. She wasn’t an easy heroine, but more realistic considering all the changes in her life. Even though the story is all from Letitia’s point of view, it is not difficult to follow what is going on with the other characters or figuring out what is going on in the new world of Stang because there are strong descriptive passages.
The plot grabbed me from the beginning. I loved the blend of magic, modern, historical, gadgetry & clockwork mechanisms all together in one story. It felt like reading a time-travel romance in a way since Letitia goes back and forth across dimensions if not times. This unique take on the paranormal was fun to read. All the cool stuff blended well with the story and didn’t bury the plot and character development. The romance developed at the same speed that Letitia herself developed which makes since she is the one who has to reach out. Criminy has already put himself out there and is just waiting for her.
I look forward to reading more of this fabulous Steampunk Paranormal Romance series and think it would hold appeal for many who come from both romance genres.