Wishes Come True
by Kathleen Nance
(LoveSpell, $5.50, R) ISBN 0-505-52248-9
****
Newcomer Kathleen Nance serves up a delightful love potion complete with a hardworking single mom, a desperate genie, and a full cast of quirky secondary characters in Wishes Come True. If you enjoy fantasy romance with a dash of loony humor, this book will have you captivated in no time.

Zoe Calderone is struggling to make ends meet. She has a precocious nine-year-old daughter named Mary, a best friend named Elvina who believes in incantations, and a fledgling computer-services business that could use an infusion of cash. To appease Mary and Elvina one evening, Zoe agrees to take place in a "ritual" designed to summon a genie. Lo and behold, it works.

Simon isn't an ordinary pop-out-of-the-bottle type of genie. Simon is a "djinni". He's from another world and time, and he's been stuck under a curse for a millenium. One hundred summons must he answer, with the requisite three wishes apiece, before the curse can be lifted and he can return to his homeland. Zoe is number ninety-three.

Simon has more than a curse to contend with. Zoe wants no part of this djinni business, especially after Simon presents her with her first, skeptical wish: a new car. Rather than a nice, staid sedan, Simon conjures up a weird creation based on his limited understanding of twentieth-century transportation. Zoe is convinced. Convinced she wants nothing to do with this guy, that is. She promptly refuses to wish for anything else, hoping Simon will take the hint and go back to wherever he came from. Too bad he's so darned good-looking…

To compound Zoe's already cluttered life, there's an ex-husband lurking about, up to no good, and a business rival who seems to be willing to do almost anything to keep her from succeeding. Zoe isn't about to trust Simon, and Simon isn't about to trust Zoe. Yet trust they must, or Simon will never be free.

This is a worthy first effort. I'm betting we'll hear more from Kathleen Nance. The plot felt fresh, the characters were lively, and the dialogue sounded natural. Simon presents a fine figure of exasperation and bewilderment as he fights his attraction to this unsuitable Earth woman. Zoe is his match; together they make a couple worth rooting for.

I enjoyed the secondary cast just as much, and there are quite a few of them. Zoe's three business partners, one teenaged boy, the ex-husband (great use of a handsome scumball in this supporting role) and even the goofy car had me smiling. This might have confused the story, having all these people around, but each one had their place and it felt just right.

The book dragged a bit in the middle. I felt the pacing was somewhat uneven and I had to resist the urge to flip ahead in a couple of places, but the ending was a delight.

Kudos to Kathleen Nance for providing a fun read her first time out. Wishes Come True sure satisfied my wish for a good fantasy romance. If I had some extra wishes, I'd wish for more like it.

--Cathy Sova


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