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Wicked Ever After
     

Wicked Ever After

4.4 5
by Delilah S. Dawson
 
Delilah S. Dawson’s award-winning Blud series comes full circle as Tish and Criminy, stars of Wicked as They Come, embark on a sexy and harrowing final adventure in a world RT Book Reviews calls “delightfully edgy with hidden charms.”

Ever since landing in the magical world of Sang and falling in love with dashing ringmaster

Overview

Delilah S. Dawson’s award-winning Blud series comes full circle as Tish and Criminy, stars of Wicked as They Come, embark on a sexy and harrowing final adventure in a world RT Book Reviews calls “delightfully edgy with hidden charms.”

Ever since landing in the magical world of Sang and falling in love with dashing ringmaster Criminy Stain, Tish has been waiting for the axe to fall. Until her dying grandmother’s last breath on Earth, Tish can’t bring herself to give up her all-too human frailty and commit to life on Sang as a youthful, long-lived Bludman like her handsome husband. But when a peculiar twist of fate delivers Tish’s grandmother to Sang, an unexpected chain of events forces Tish and Criminy to embark on one last wild adventure. From old friends to new and into the lair of terrifying enemies, the couple’s love and longevity will be pushed to the brink by each harrowing encounter. Is blud thicker than blood, and can Tish and Crim find their wicked ever after?

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781501102110
Publisher:
Pocket Star
Publication date:
10/05/2015
Series:
A Blud Novel , #7
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
166,153
File size:
2 MB

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Wicked Ever After



1

There were no fences, no walls, no high, striped tent for this night circus. There wasn’t even a sign, but the crowd knew what to do, tramping down the aisle neatly mown through the high grass and forming an orderly line at the single beribboned turnstile. No one dared step beyond the charmed velvet ropes and into the darkness, knowing full well what dangers awaited beyond. They jostled and whispered, keeping their elbows tight to their sides as they stood on tiptoe to see what waited in the puddle of light ahead. Alone on the moor, ringed only with a circle of fairy lanterns strung on posts, the caravan waited for me like a hungry friend whose teeth had grown too sharp.

But I wasn’t scared of sharp teeth, so I smiled back.

The ground bumped along under my worn boots, the tall grass rustling against the hem of my taffeta skirt. It was almost my turn to pay. In front of me stood a stout matron with a lace parasol, her tiny husband clinging to her arm. Behind me, a crowd of young ruffians in short jackets whispered about how easy it might be to sneak in. And then, after noticing the cleverness of the eyes of the fellow at the turnstile, they turned to discussing how much simpler it would be to steal my purse.

I turned my head, just a little. “I wouldn’t.”

A smallish foot pinned my skirt, just to show it could.

“Course you wouldn’t. Ol’ lady.”

Quick as a blink, quicker than I should have been able to, I snatched something from the tall grass and spun to brandish it at the clutch of would-be thieves. “Say hello to my little friend.”

“I ain’t scared,” spit a brave one. But I noticed the foot was gone from my hem.

With a little shrug, I inspected the rabbit I held by the scruff of the neck, pointing it at them like a weapon. “Good for you, lad. Hold out a finger, then. Let’s see how not scared you are.”

He shook his head. And stepped back. One of his fellow gangsters sniffled and wiped a nose on his sleeve.

My grin grew, and I shoved the rabbit at them. “Just a bunny, boys. Who wants a little?”

When the rabbit’s jaw dropped open, revealing dripping fangs and blood-crusted lips, they screamed and ran for the back of the line. It was all I could do to keep from lobbing the bunny after them, just to watch them scatter. How easy it was to forget the very real danger of a frightened crowd running willy-nilly into the waiting night.

“Well played, rabbit,” I muttered, turning the bludbunny to face me and watching its jaws work as it snapped at plain air.

“You can’t pay with that, you know.”

A strange pull turned my attention to the front of the line, where a brightly striped pavilion rose from the moor like a night-blooming flower. A little tremor ran over my skin as I turned to find the barker staring at me, his red-gloved hands curled possessively around the bar separating me from the carnival on the other side. Seeing his face, I dropped the rabbit and gave my attention to the real predator. I, apparently, was next in line.

“Whyever not? It was a perfectly good rabbit.”

“Meat’s not currency, no matter how delicious.”

I let my smile match his and leaned closer. “Blood’s currency.”

The rabbit went for my ankle, and I speared it with a heel without even looking down.

With a low chuckle, the man leaned over his turnstile, his grin encircling me like a snake, strong and silky and ever constricting. His dark hair rippled in the moor wind but somehow never covered his cloudy gray eyes.

“Oh, I’ll take your blood and gladly, poppet. Just not his. Especially not now. Dead things have no spice.” He dragged a velvet-tipped finger over my cheek, and every hair on my body rose under the thick cloth covering me from chin to toes. “But you have plenty of spice, don’t you, love?”

That broke the spell. I pulled away, turning my face with a blush. “Not anymore,” I muttered.

Dropping a copper coin into the box, I pushed through the turnstile and tripped, falling hard on my hands and knees. The blasted rabbit was still speared on my sharp heel. Stupid. I knew better than to wear stilettos outside of a city’s stone streets. With a grunt, I yanked the still form off and threw it into the waist-high grass, its passing marked by shuddering green blades as the rest of the warren tidily devoured their brother’s remains. They’d have stripped my bones as happily.

I ran.

A tall black boot cut the grass before me, punting another soft brown rabbit into the night before a red-gloved hand appeared in my tear-blurred vision.

“My lady?”

He’d followed me from the turnstile, resplendent in his ringmaster’s kit and high top hat. I took his hand, cursing him for how smooth I knew it was under his glove, how unmarred his handsome face was by time and his many cares. Bludmen had all the luck in the looks and near-indestructibility departments; this dangerously gorgeous specimen would live to be at least three hundred and would look just as suave right up to two hundred fifty or so, provided no one tossed him into the salty and poisonous sea or drained him for impertinence. Whereas I was thirty-two, looked sixty, and would die before forty if my curse continued to cause supernatural aging. A human, and a poor excuse for one at that. It did not pay to bargain with witches in this world.

“Your lady? Ha! Your wrinkled apple, more like,” I muttered as he helped me to my feet.

I wobbled, but then again, I was wearing stiletto-heeled boots. Because surely it wasn’t that come-hither look in his eye that made me feel all wobbly in the middle.

But it was. Even after six years by his side, I still got chills when he looked at me like that.

“Fine wines only grow sweeter with age, Letitia,” he said gently.

I snatched my hand from his grasp. “Don’t call me that!”

“But it’s your name.”

“It’s an old-lady name!”

“And you’re not an old lady.” As I stomped toward the caravan’s circle of warmth, he paced alongside me, barely out of breath. “Or at least . . . you needn’t be.”

Ripping off my dirt-smudged glove, I felt the skin around my eyes with my fingertips. Wrinkled, pitted with lines of laughter and sorrow, lines that had deepened in six short years from the good-natured grin of my thirties to the crepey ditches of a woman in her sixties. It wasn’t fair, dammit, and how dare he say that, much less in public? The only other woman he’d ever loved had been a Bludwoman and beautiful. If Merissa had appeared before us just then, she would have looked half my age and had twice my magic and talents. It was unbearable, being trapped in a body that didn’t feel like mine and constantly comparing myself with the unattainable Bludwomen who threw themselves at Criminy as if I were just a tired old plaything.

“Again with that ‘immortal kiss’ crap? ‘Oh, I’m such a sexy vampire. Let me drink all your blood and spit it back into your mouth, and blah blah blah, you can never go back to Earth and see your grandmother again, much less help her die with any kind of dignity, even though you live with insane amounts of stress every single day that you’re in Sang with the devilishly good-looking ringmaster you love while your grandmother is two wheezy breaths away from kicking the damn bucket.’ ”

Firm hands settled on my waist, snatching me backward, lifting me in an effortless swirl of skirts that felt oh-so-Disney, or would have if he hadn’t been grinning at me with fangs in his mouth, lust in his eyes, and a mostly ornamental whip coiled on his hip.

“The moment I blud you, love, those wrinkles that I definitely don’t see will melt right into soft, youthful skin like fresh cream kissed with roses. You’ll still be terribly young, for a Bludwoman. Until that moment, I’ll love you, just as I do now, just as I always have. My ‘immortal kiss,’ as you call it, just waits for your word. This problem will solve itself.”

He tucked my hand into the crook of his elbow, checked that Vil was tending the turnstile, and towed me toward his damn caravan. And I let him, because despite the fact that I’d just had a hissy fit, I knew in my heart he was right.

Criminy Stain was always right.

I couldn’t enjoy the caravan after that. I should have known better. The magic I’d felt my first night there could never be replicated. More and more often these days, I found myself chasing old joys, hunting for thrills that had dissipated. I drank more red wine than usual, persuaded Emerlie to teach me tightrope, and spent evenings testing my edibility and resilience by wandering the moors to see which blud creatures might challenge me. I’d had enough of Criminy’s blud by now to be not quite human, and I required at least a few drops a day to stay sane. The blud madness crept closer with every sip, urging me to drink deeper and release the beast waiting, curled, within me. Urging me to hunt. It was the worst of both worlds: I had to remain human to visit my grandmother on Earth, but every day I waited aged me a week and hurled me deeper into what felt like an abyss of monstrousness. Some nights, I woke up on the moors, fingernails ripped and bloody, mouth redolent of cabernet, surrounded by fanged forest creatures I couldn’t remember tearing to shreds.

After being forced to kill a particularly hungry bludstag and carry it home on my shoulders for the cook pot, I’d kept closer to the safety of the caravan lights. I still couldn’t accept that parts of me were slowly edging into bludded territory, even though I was haunted nightly by my fortune-teller vision of my own hands turned black and clawed. Which was worse, to age unnaturally fast or to accept that you were becoming something different against your will?

I’d asked Casper about it once, when we were in London. When he’d first sampled blud from every Bludman he’d met, my fellow Stranger from Earth had merely thought to render himself unappetizing to his friends. Eventually, however, it had taken him over completely and nearly driven him mad. And yet that recklessness had helped bring him his perfect match, his Ahnastasia. Becoming a Bludman had ensured that all his dreams had come true.

“Do you regret it?” I’d asked, not quite meeting his too-bright eyes.

He’d laughed the Bludman’s carefree laugh, leonine head thrown back and dimples deeper than ever. “Darlin’, just be what you are,” he’d said. “Come to the Dark Side. We got cookies.”

Criminy never stopped glaring at his onetime rival for my affections, but he did mutter, “Bloody bastard’s got a point.”

I thought that visiting the caravan the way the humans did, with fresh eyes, might wake me up a little. But the way Crim was looking at me now, with pity and sorrow—so not magical. In a bad mood over ruining my boot and my night, I slipped my hand from his arm. “Go run your damn caravan. I’m going to visit Nana.”

“Shall I tuck you in, love?” Sharp black eyebrows waggled, and my skin went on red alert at the dark promise in his eyes.

“There should be nothing sexy about visiting my grandmother. You can tuck me in later. I’m too . . .” I waved my hands as tears threatened. “Too damn human to go to bed with you right now.”

Faster than lightning, he caught my hands, threading his gloved fingers through mine, and spun me around to press my back against the cool wood of the nearest shadowed caravan wagon. His lips found mine, hot and greedy, and I melted against the urgency of his hips through layers of fashionable petticoats. Every nerve in my body rose to his touch, the breath catching in my throat at the sweet wine taste of his tongue. His kiss drove every thought from my head, pushed me out of my constantly worrying mind and straight into animal mode, all lust and teeth and hunger hammering to the clatter of calliope pipes.

“Didn’t say anything about going to bed, poppet,” he murmured, teeth grazing my ear.

“Bludhoney trash,” someone muttered, passing by with the crowd. It was impossible to forget what humans thought of Bludmen, and especially of the women who kept company with them.

Criminy growled, and the spell broke as he spun around with murder in his eyes. I reached for his coattails to tug him back.

“Crim! You’re not allowed to kill customers.” I yanked almost hard enough to split the heavy fabric, and he turned back to me, the beast fading in his eyes.

“They paid for a show. It’s my job to give them one.”

I stepped out from the wagon’s overhang, adjusting my hat and blushing. “Not now. Not murder, not sex. I still need to feel human sometimes. Any messages for Nana?”

Without a hair out of place, he grinned the most charming grin a predator could possess. “Tell her my next move is Knight to Pawn Three. Let the old bat deal with that.” And with a tip of his hat and a whirl of his cape, he was gone.

Meet the Author

Delilah S. Dawson is the author of Hit, Servants of the Storm, the Blud series, Star Wars: “The Perfect Weapon,” a variety of short stories and comics, and Wake of Vultures, written as Lila Bowen. She lives in north Georgia with her family and a fat mutt named Merle. Find her online at WhimsyDark.com.

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Wicked Ever After 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Muttcafe More than 1 year ago
Delilah Dawson’s Blud novels are carniepunk fantasy romances blending adventure, magic, steamy romance, and just a bit of humor. While not literary masterpieces, they are decadent treats that make for a fun afternoon. Wicked Ever After is the concluding novel in the story arc started in Wicked as They Come. If you haven’t read Wicked as They Come or the other Blud novels, then you should wait to read Wicked Ever After. Wicked Ever After is a short novel that isn’t heavy on plot. It mostly brings Letitia and Criminy’s tale to its end and ties up loose ends from the previous novels. By the end, everyone has their happy ever after and readers see what happens after the previous novels. It is a quick, fun read, but a little disappointing if you are expecting more of a story. Fans of the Blud series are definitely the target audience. 4/5 Wicked Ever After is available for preorder and will be released October 5, 2015. I received a copy of Wicked Ever After from the publisher and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. –Crittermom
reececo331 More than 1 year ago
Wicked Ever After by Delilah S. Dawson Letitia could have never known that the dark dream world of Sang, she had been drawn into by a magic locket would change her world. Letitia was a beaten and battered woman, a hospice nurse, watching the last person in her world die in inglorious death during her third bout of cancer. When she me Criminy Stain six years ago she could not, would not believe his assertions that she was his. Now she would rather be in the dream world then the real world. She had married the tall dark and handsome Bludman, but she was wasting away even as their love grew. A choice in her first year of Sang, had its consequences, she was aging rapidly. The solution was to become Bludman, like her husband, but she resisted the urge. Letitia has a lot of tough choices, and in some of them she will learn the value of appreciating what she already has, and letting go that which was holding her back. She will find there is more to the magic of Sang than she ever imagined. Wicked Ever After is a great story of love, redemption, and finding your just right place.
Under_The_Covers_BookBlog More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Francesca and posted at Under The Covers Book Blog WICKED EVER AFTER is the bittersweet ending of the Blud series. If you’ve been following the series, this is a must read as it goes back to Trish and Criminy and gives closure to their story as well as the other couples you see throughout the series. Word to the wise, this novella CANNOT stand alone. It just wouldn’t make as much sense without the background of the rest of the series. I was glad to see Trish deal with her issues at becoming a Bludwoman, but maybe I wasn’t too happy with how that turned out necessarily. We also get a shocking turn of events with Trish’s grandmother, but I don’t want to spoil things for you, so you’ll just have to read and see. That being said, Criminy was my absolute favorite part of this story. He’s still dashing and wonderful and even sweeter and sexier if that’s even a possibility. His love for Trish shines through repeatedly through all the over the top scenarios we see in this book. There’s action, there’s danger, there’s family drama! WICKED EVER AFTER is over the top but ties in all the loose ends giving perfect closure. And in the end, I was left with a happy sigh after the 10 years later epilogue.
Sophia-Rose1 More than 1 year ago
I had no expectations that the author would return to Criminy and Tish's story and the Criminy's circus where this whole delightful series got started. Bravo, Ms. Dawson! I didn't realize how badly I wanted it until it was suddenly a possibility so I snatched it up and devoured it like the sweetest, most sinful morsel. The story is indeed a follow-up book focused on Crim and Tish, but it also was a reunion story that brought together everyone from all the previous books and novellas. It felt like coming home when I returned to the world of Sang and I absolutely recommend getting these in order. The story opens with Tish facing down a decision that she does not want to make. The witch's curse has literally sucked the life out of her and continues to do so, but she won't let Criminy take the last of her humanity and Blud her. She says it is because of her dear gran back in the earth world, but deep down it is fear of the final, irrevocable change. She is abrupt and stormy, but Criminy is there beside her even when she leaps at the new idea of bringing her gran across and letting Criminy blud her to save her from dying. Criminy is reluctant, but does it for Tish. Tish soon finds that her young, youthful gran who insists on being called Ruby is nothing like she expected. Ruby is flamboyant and daring and dismissive of Tish. Then she is gone from the circus. Criminy advises Tish to let Ruby go, but she can't. So off they go on a dangerous adventure to find Ruby who has gone in search of a powerful dark witch. In the end, Tish is forced to face her fears and not just a few facts and may lose that which is most important to her. Alright, being reunited with Criminy, Tish, and the rest of the gang in Sang was an absolute treat beyond measure. The worldbuilding was just as colorful, unsettling, dangerous, and exciting as ever. The tone was so well-done the way I had no trouble feeling like I was visiting a bizarre new place. There was lots of familiar settings and characters, but I loved that the adventure took me into a new situation of 'what happens after happily ever after' for people like Criminy and Tish. Tish is stubborn and impulsive and Criminy is devilishly attractive in that foreign macabre way of his. The story cements them as a couple through thick and thin. I loved that they got so much page time together. And the adventure was not easy nor was it loss, but it kept my attention riveted to the very end. I probably should have detested Ruby, but I found her a most interesting character that made a scene absolutely crackle with tension. I had no trouble seeing the situation in a way that the heroine, Tish could not and didn't until near the end with Criminy's help. The adventure was dark and gritty like it can get in the Blud series. The author isn't afraid to let the monsters in this world whether they are good or bad or a bit of both out. The blend of fantasy, paranormal, and steampunk is done well. By this story, most of it goes unexplained and is just assumed which was fun in its familiar feel. The romance is an ongoing relationship, but it never felt staid or settled. Criminy is as larger than life, passionate, and dangerous as ever and has no trouble getting Tish out of her head and off her worries. He worries for her in this story and it was sweet to see him expose that vulnerability to Tish. It was a nice blend of scorching passion and tender romance. All in all, this last book of the Blud seri
LilyElementBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Tish and Criminy Stain return in book 4 of the Blud series. I'm so happy to see a continuation of their story since this is the last book in the series. In case you don't remember, Criminy runs a traveling circus, and in book one, Tish joins them as a glancer (think fortune teller) when she appeared in Sang. A spelled necklace causes Tish to go back and forth between Earth and Sang whenever she falls asleep in either place. Which I would imagine would take a toll on someone after awhile. The only reason Tish is still going back to Earth instead of being with her husband Criminy full time is to take care of her dying grandmother. You see, if Tish turns into a bludman (think vampire) like her husband, she won't be able to go back to Earth, she'll be stuck in Sang forever. Now we get to the interesting part. Tish manages to get her grandma to Sang. Now everything can be picture perfect, or so one would think. We wouldn't have a very interesting book if it was picture perfect, now would we? After a few days Tish and Criminy have to go on an adventure to find Tish's grandmother. She's run off, and with no clue why, Tish has to find her. I will tell you this, I was frustrated at the grandmother almost the entire time she was in Sang. Wicked Ever After is a lovely conclusion of the Blud series. It had the adventure that I craved with the characters that I loved. Criminy is my favorite character in the entire series. He has that sweetness towards Tish that melts my heart, but don't be fooled into thinking he's soft. The series is full of vampires, adventure and romance, oh and bludbunnies. I highly suggest all of the books if you enjoy paranormal romance with a bit of bite.