I Dream Of You
by Judi McCoy, paranormal (2001)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7140-X

Judi McCoy's debut genie contemporary romance I Dream Of You isn't polished or well-crafted, but there's something infectiously charming in the genie Ben's good nature that wins me over. Chalk this author as one whom I think shows great promise.

Maddie Winston is a dynamo chairwoman running a computer chip manufacturing plant. Or rather, trying to keep the plant afloat despite mounting debts and all. To make things worse, she has been publicly humiliated by a tabloid covering her dumping by her ex-fiance. One day while trying not to indulge in self pity (and failing miserably), she finds a bottle washed up from the sea. She uncorks it... and woosh!

Out comes a hunky genie. Her wish is his command.

Does she wish for a harem of George Clooneys? Money, money, money? Ehm, this is a romance novel, where heroine can never want anything for her own sake, remember? Naturally, she freaks out, tries not to enjoy the experience, and smashes a smuggling ring in her company (don't ask) while she's at it. Yes, Maddie is as fun as a dentist drill in my mouth.

But the genie Abban ben-Abdullah is fun as a roguish, charming hero. Likewise, Maddie's granny and her beau are fun to follow too. I have no idea why Maddie has to hog the limelight. Prissy heroines reluctant to let their hair down are not fun to read, and Maddie's not even a good businesswoman. Her first reaction at adversity is to run screaming for someone else - Ben - for help/comfort/whatever. I can't help wishing the author hasn't followed too closely the stupid rules that say romance heroines can't be anything more than an ill-defined pastiche of neurotic self-sacrificing, whiney nerves.

I also have one personal quibble that is just my own personal peeve (I hope). I am sick of the flippant misuse of Middle-Eastern names. Ben's full name is Abban ben-Abdullah. I presume ben is an Anglicized version of the Arabic bin, which means, simply, "son of". Thus, in this story, everyone is calling Abban Ben, ie "Son of". Son of... what, exactly? It's quite distracting. Likewise, as a prince, Abban wouldn't use bin - that is reserved for commoners. As a royalty, he will use ibn. He should call himself Abban ibn Abdullah.

And for goodness sake, Abban says he is a prince of the Balthazar empire. Does Balthazar sound Middle-Eastern to you?

But hey, that's just me. I happen to know these things, and it is only so many "Hey Ben!" (read: "Hey, son of...") I can read without rolling up my eyes. Otherwise, I Dream Of You is a fun read, although Maddie tries her best to make everyone around her miserable. Lucky for her, everyone else is too sensible to be neurotic.

Rating: 80

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