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Review – Wickedly Wonderful (Baba Yaga #2) by Deborah Blake

Reviewed by: E

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…
This blurb came from Goodreads.

A while ago I read and reviewed Wickedly Dangerous, the first installment in this series about Baba Yaga. I thought the premise was intriguing and enjoyed the first one enough to go ahead and request this second installment. While I didn’t find Wickedly Wonderful a bad story I thought it seemed shallow and lacked the punch I felt in book one. My biggest complaints were with the world-building not really with the emotional relationship.

Beka had extremely low self-esteem when it came to her abilities and competence as a Baba. Her fears and lack of self-confidence stemmed from a steady diet of disparaging remarks from the Baba who chose her as a trainee/successor. The former Baba had no intentions of giving up her role and power so she deliberately worked to undermine Beka’s abilities during training. As a result Beka faced the challenges of keeping her region balanced as the liaison between Faerie and the more mundane world and her own self-doubts. I was glad to see her start to grow into her powers as Wickedly Wonderful grew closer to the end but I grew tired of her repeated doubts and wanted her to start believing in herself bit sooner. When she finally did, the results were very impressive.

Marcus and his father were too alike to spend much time together without butting heads. They were both stubborn, grumpy, and did not like being told they were wrong or to do something to the extent they would do about the opposite. This tendency actually led to a family tragedy and further deepened their enmity. However, with his father suffering from a deadly illness, Marcus came back to help him out. As stubborn as Marcus was, I enjoyed watching him regain his sense of wonder and belief in magic the more time he spent around Beka.

Beka and Marcus did not get along from the very beginning. Their initial interaction was completely negative as she cut their recently repaired net costing them a day’s worth of fishing while rescuing one of the underwater otherfolk. She did pay for the net and the fish but the initial damage was done so their relationship really had to grow through a struggle. At the same time Beka received her first serious request as Baba – to figure out what or who was poisoning the ocean and damaging everything in it. As she struggled to identify the poison, what seemed like a straightforward request turned into something much more complicated and potentially deadly.

The dynamics between Marcus, Beka, Marcus’ father, the Selkie Prince, and a few other characters was both interesting and revealing. Marcus bristled anytime he noticed another man speaking to Beka even as he dismissed everything Beka tried to tell or show him about the world beyond the mundane. The Selkie Prince on the other hand tried to hide his feelings under a layer of charm and underhanded dealings while appearing to support and pamper Beka. He really played on her lack of self-esteem and used it as a way to keep her distracted. As Marcus and Beka grew closer, it was good to see the changes in them both along with his relationship with his father. The magic they discovered at the end made me sigh happily.

As I said in the beginning, Wickedly Wonderful felt lacking to me. I really missed the magic, the elements of Faerie, and how the dragons’ roles were very diminished. Basically, except for near the end, most of the supernatural elements could have been replaced by non-supernatural elements. I need my fantasy aspects to be just as key in the story/world-building as the relationship between the main characters for a successful Paranormal Romance. I still really like the premise of this series and I will give the third story a try, hoping Blake recreated the magic I so enjoyed with the first one. Plus I want to know what is going on with the Dragons!

I give Wickedly Wonderful a C

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By E_booklover

E is addicted to books. She discovered at an early age that not only were they her transport to far off worlds, adventures, and exotic cultures, but that she ran into far fewer objects if she walked while reading then if she wasn't reading. She reads across several genres, such as: romance, western,mystery, SF/F and its derivatives. She isn't too picky except for good characterization, settings she can imagine, and a story that flows logically... umm so ok -- she wants a good story. Have any to recommend?

2 replies on “Review – Wickedly Wonderful (Baba Yaga #2) by Deborah Blake”

This is really good to hear. And I didn’t know about the novellas. *rubs hands in glee*

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