Title: WICKEDLY WONDERFUL
Series: Baba Yaga #2
Author: Deborah Blake
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 352 Pages
Published: Berkley (December 2, 2014)
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Source: Contest win
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 Wine Glasses
Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…
Though she looks like a typical California surfer girl, Beka Yancy is in fact a powerful yet inexperienced witch who’s struggling with her duties as a Baba Yaga. Luckily she has her faithful dragon-turned-dog for moral support, especially when faced with her biggest job yet…
A mysterious toxin is driving the Selkie and Mer from their homes deep in the trenches of Monterey Bay. To investigate, Beka buys her way onto the boat of Marcus Dermott, a battle-scarred former U.S. Marine, and his ailing fisherman father.
While diving for clues, Beka drives Marcus crazy with her flaky New Age ideas and dazzling blue eyes. She thinks he’s rigid and cranky (and way too attractive). Meanwhile, a charming Selkie prince has plans that include Beka. Only by trusting her powers can Beka save the underwater races, pick the right man, and choose the path she’ll follow for the rest of her life…
Legends had been written about less...
WICKEDLY WONDERFUL by Deborah Blake is a brilliantly woven bewitching tale. I'm so grateful that I won this paperback in a panel contest at the Coastal Magic Convention this past February, as it started me on a magical journey of discovering the awesomeness of Deborah Blake's books! I've been holding off reading it until now as I wanted to read the series in order and, happily, I've now done that. This is the story of Beka Yancy, a relatively new, unsure, but powerful witch, and ex-marine Marcus Dermott, who has returned to Monterey Bay to be with his father as he's going through chemotherapy.
The Baba Yaga series is a fractured retelling of an old Russian folk tale of an aged, sometimes-wicked/sometimes-not witch. The original stories were mostly gory and rarely had happy endings. I prefer the author's spruced-up spin! For instance, the original Baba Yaga lived in a chicken hut on legs. Beka's version has morphed into a hippie school bus painted with beautiful ocean art. For short trips, Beka drives a Karman Ghia, which brought back memories of my own first Ghia many years ago! Mine was candy apple red; Beka's is ocean blue. AND, most importantly to me, Deborah's have HEA endings!
WICKEDLY WONDERFUL is the second book in this series and features my favorite cover of the series as it's purple andI'm a huge purple fan. I would recommend that this series be read in order, if possible. I can attest that each book has been fantastic! However, WICKEDLY WONDERFUL can be enjoyed as a standalone, if that is your preference, as Deborah seamlessly fills in whatever-new-readers would-need-to-know.
I absolutely loved this installment in Deborah's Baba Yaga series. Beka and Marcus were both genuinely compelling characters who each captured my heart. They had chemistry galore! I kept hoping they would move on from their rocky beginning and issues. Their story was yummy sexy with a suspenseful plot that kept me eagerly turning the pages.
As with the other books, the supporting cast was colorfully quirky. Tito, a human boy full of life while fighting a deadly disease, and Fergus, a merman, were two favorites. Here's a heartwarming and humorous snippet featuring the two of them:
“The boy stuck his hand out politely and shook hers, then extended it to Fergus, his eyes bright as stars in the night sky. "That's cool," he said, looking down at Fergus's hand and turning it sideways so he could get a better look. "You have little webs between your fingers. Does that hep you swim?"
Marcus cleared his throat, looking embarrassed. "Tito, dude, it's not polite to comment on people's, um, oddities." He shrugged an apology at Fergus, who just laughed.
"I do not mind," Fergus said, grinning at the dark-skinned boy. He leaned down and whispered. "Can you keep a secret? I am actually a Merman from an undersea kingdom; that is why I have webs between my fingers." He held up one bare foot and said in a more normal tone, "Toes, too, see?"
Tito's face was a study in conflicting awe and disbelief. "I never heard of a Merman," he said, dubiously. "I thought there were only Mermaids. And they're made up."
Fergus snorted. "If you do not have any Mermen, how would get more Mermaids, eh?”
I would be gravely remiss if I didn't mention Chewie. Each of the witches has their own Chudo-Yudo, aka dragon partner who is charged with protecting their witch and guarding their precious supply of the Water of Life and Death. Chewie, disguised as a Newfoundland, a large water dog, is Beka's. AND, don't think for a minute that he's named after Chewbacca in Star Wars. I'm not telling how he got his name. You'll have to read the book to find out. Chewie is seriously addicted to s'mores, which ignited my craving for them also. (Mmmm!) Beka's and Chewie's bantering was delightful - sometimes sweet and often laugh-out-loud funny. Here's a short excerpt that reflects Chewie's obsession with the sweet treat:
“Chewie gave a bone-scented sigh and rubbed his jowl affectionately against her leg. "I can't tell you what to do, Beka. I can just tell you that I would be very sorry if you weren't my Baba. I've kind of gotten used to having you around."
Beka blinked back unexpected emotion. "Thanks, Chewie. That's really sweet."
He was quiet for a moment, and then said. "You know what's really sweet? S'mores, that's what." He gazed up at her with an innocent expression. "Just sayin'.”
I can't resist sharing a couple more favorite quotes from this read:
“I've got the perfect dress. It's going to knock your socks off."
Marcus wasn't sure if that was good or bad, but he couldn't wait to find out.”
“Her arms reached up to wrap around his neck, holding on as if she would never let go. She kissed him back with an ardor that astonished, gratified, and aroused him all at once, and for a moment, he lost himself in the kiss, and in the woman, thinking to himself, now this, this is magic.”
I was thrilled to find out that Deborah is writing a spin-off to this series featuring the strong and sexy Riders who are at the Baba Yagas' beck and call. The first book will be DANGEROUSLY CHARMING and it's scheduled to released Oct 4 2016!
As with the first book, Deborah's writing is very descriptive with richly detailed imagery so your mind's eye will visualize what she has put in words. I can't wait to read the next installment, WICKEDLY POWERFUL; It's sitting on my bedside table and I'm starting it today! I would highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys delightfully magical paranormal reads!
Suggested Reading Order:
WICKEDLY MAGICAL (Book # 0.5)
WICKEDLY DANGEROUS (Book #1)
WICKEDLY WONDERFUL (Book #2)
WICKEDLY EVER AFTER (Book #2.5)
WICKEDLY POWERFUL (Book #3)