Series: BABA YAGA SERIES
Plot Type: Urban Fantasy (UF)
Ratings: Violence—3; Sensuality—3.5; Humor—2-3
Wickedly Magical (novella .5—8/2014)
"Wickedly Ever After" (novella 2.5—1/2016)
Wickedly Powerful (novel 3—2/2016)
The only thing more fiery than Bella Young’s red hair is her temper. She knows that a Baba Yaga’s power without strict control can leave the people she cares about burned, so to protect her heart—and everyone around her—the only company she keeps is her dragon-turned-Norwegian-Forest-cat, Koshka.
|Traditional Version |
of Baba Yaga
Each B.Y. is accompanied by a shape-shifting dragon called Chudo-Yudo. Barbara's Chudo-Yudo disguises himself as a 200-pound white pit bull, and Beka's transforms into a 200-pound Newfoundland dog. The job of the Chudo-Yudos is to guard the witches' supply of the Water of Life and Death, which was given to them by the Queen of the Otherworld to prolong their lives, increase their strength, and boost their natural magical powers. Each B.Y. is born with her magical powers—powers that become stronger and broader through training and experience. Also essential to maintaining their powers is a constant diet of blue roses. Each B.Y. has access to the Otherworld through a portal within her mobile home.
Click HERE to watch a funny video that tells an urban fantasy story about a 21st century B.Y. And click HERE for a more traditional B.Y. video tale. Click HERE to read a 1903 Russian version of the B.Y. legend.
NOVELLA .5: "Wickedly Magical"
Baba Yagas are required to grant favors promised either by themselves or their forebears, so when Ivan Dmetriev approaches Barbara with an ancient dragon scale given to his babushka (i.e., his grandmother) decades ago by Barbara's predecessor, she is obliged to help him. As Barbara muses to Chudo-Yudo: "A Baba Yaga never breaks a promise. Legs, yes. Hearts, occasionally. But never a promise." Ivan's problem is that his wife, Grace, has joined a cult, taking their two children with her and convincing the court that Ivan abused them—a complete lie. As it turns out, there's a magical reason that Grace and Jonathan Bellingwood, the cult leader, convinced everyone that they were telling the truth, and Barbara's task is to undo that magic.
At the end of the story, while Barbara is enjoying a brief visit with Beka and Bella, she gets The Call, "a kind of subliminal mental pull towards whatever problem needed her special attention. No one else could hear it besides the Baba it was aimed at, and there was no ignoring it. When you were called, you went. It was as simple as that." This Call will be at the center of the first novel.
This is an ultra-slim plot, but it does provide the opportunity to meet Barbara and to get most of the mythology details out of the way. Click HERE to read an excerpt.
The sheriff is Liam McClellan, a man with the inevitable tragic past that befalls so many paranormal fiction heroes. Several years ago, Liam's only child died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and his wife disappeared after turning to drugs and alcohol to dull her grief. Liam has been roaming the countryside looking for the missing children, but has had no luck in finding them. Here's where the first huge improbability appears: The state police are supposedly so busy with other cases that they don't have time to help Liam find the children, and the FBI never appears at all. It is impossible to believe that with three children disappearing from this tiny town that the FBI and state law enforcement agencies don't get involved from the very beginning. Also improbable is that Liam—an experienced law enforcement officer—doesn’t really investigate the kidnappings. He just drives around looking for the children, day after day after day. So…the main plot is based on an extremely weak and implausible premise.
When Barbara learns about the multiple kidnappings, she calls in some Otherworld help: her three magical motorcycle-riding buddies, Mikhail Day (aka Bright Dawn, the White Rider), Gregori Sun (aka Red Sun, the Red Rider), and Alexei Knight (aka Dark Midnight, the Black Rider). The Riders are "pledged to the service of the Baba Yagas, [though] even Baba herself didn't know exactly what kind of creatures they were behind their human masks. All she knew for certain was that they were immortal, powerful, and on her side." (p. 60) She also asks for help from her long-time friend-with-benefits, Koshei, an immortal shape-shifting dragon. "Koshei had been the companion of the Baba before her; for all she knew, he'd been the companion of all the Babas in their line back down through history." (p. 66) Of course, all four men are tall, well-built, handsome alpha males. They also go out looking for the kids. No one really searches for clues or questions suspects, they just keep looking around.
Liam meets Barbara while he is out driving around on one of his searches, and the two are immediately attracted to one another. Their blossoming romance grows stronger and stronger as the story moves along. Soon, Barbara attends a town meeting and spots a likely suspect who appears to be hiding behind a magical glamour, but with no proof, she can't tell Liam her suspicions without disclosing her own magical identity. The story follows Liam and Barbara as they fall in love and solve the crime after briefly becoming suspects themselves.
This story is a run-of-the-mill genre romance with paper-thin characters and an implausible plot. If you like typical paranormal genre romances, you might enjoy this one, but if you are looking for a fresh approach to paranormal romance, this one isn't for you. Even with its inventive Baba Yaga mythology, there's not much new in the actual story line. Click HERE to read an excerpt.
NOVEL 2: Wickedly Wonderful
Beka's task is to find out who and what is poisoning the deep sea trench that is home to the Merpeople and the Selkies. The water in the trench has become so toxic that it is killing the young and the elderly, forcing the King and Queen to move to a trench that is closer to shore. Unfortunately, that trench is frequently visited by humans, so living there would be risky. It's up to Beka to find out what is going on and to purify the water.
Meanwhile, Beka has met Marcus Dermott, a tall, sexy ex-marine who is helping his cancer-stricken father on the family's fishing boat. One day, while Beka is out surfing, a mermaid grabs her surfboard and drags her to the Dermotts' boat because the mermaid's baby is caught in their net. While rescuing the baby, Beka gets caught up in the net, making Marcus think that he might have caught a mermaid. Their first meeting does not go well because she thinks that he is rude and arrogant (which he is), and he thinks that she is some kind of hippy, New-Age, Green-Peace activist who cut his net as part of a protest. Eventually, of course, their feeling begin to change as mutual attraction overrides the huge differences between them.
Then, a new man enters the picture: Kesh, a charming Selkie prince who tries to woo Beka in order to use her in his evil plan for the future of the planet. Beka isn't very sophisticated and she's definitely not street smart, so for awhile she is taken in by Kesh's ardent attentions. The reader is told from the beginning that Kesh is the villain, but it takes Beka a very long time to figure it out. Two of the Riders who appeared in the first novel show up briefly to assist Beka, but then they go off in search of their third comrade, who has vanished without a trace. This mystery will be explored in the next book.
Just as in the earlier books, the plot has a number of improbabilities and inconsistencies, and the characters are one-dimensional and not very interesting. In general, Marcus stalks around growling and glowering at everyone; Beka whines about how useless and overwhelmed she is; and smarmy Kesh sneers and pouts his way through all of his scenes. So…not much depth to the characters. Beka's Chudo-Yudo—a shape-shifting dragon who takes the form of a huge Newfoundland dog—is the source of most of the sarcastic humor.
The author has an unfortunate habit of telegraphing critical plot points so blatantly that she destroys all of the suspense. Towards the end, for example, she points out several times that Beka is breaking a major rule and taking a huge risk when she removes her dragon/dog from his post (his job is to guard the Water of Life and Death), so what do you think happens? I don't even have to tell you because it's so easy to figure out—without even reading the book. This is a middle-grade, formulaic paranormal romance, so if you like that type of book, you'll probably enjoy it, but if you are looking for something fresh and inventive, this one won't ring your bell. Click HERE to read an excerpt.
NOVELLA 2.5: "Wickedly Ever After"
This is a light and fluffy tale about the trials and tribulations the Queen of the Otherworld puts Barbara through before she is allowed to officially mate with her beloved Liam. The plot is quite straightforward: The Queen gives Barbara three impossible tasks to fulfill within a two-week period. If she fails to complete them all, she must give up Liam forever, but if she succeeds, Liam will be allowed to drink the Water of Life and Death so that they can age at the same rate and be together for the rest of their lives. This is the typical price that people pay for the services of the Baba Yagas, but Barbara "was used to being the one who demanded that others fulfill three impossible tasks and she didn't much like being on the other side of the equation."
Luckily, Barbara, Liam, and little Babs are smart, well-connected people, so you can be sure that this little story has an HEA ending. The novella is not really an essential read in terms of understanding the series. Basically, it's just a short, humorous epilogue to Wickedly Dangerous. Click HERE to read an excerpt from "Wickedly Ever After" by clicking of the cover art on the book's Amazon.com page.