Three Wishes
by Janice Sims, contemporary (2008)
Kimani, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-373-83011-4

Audra Kane is a popular actress who manages to put on a cheery front. So what if her boyfriend recently cheated on her with a younger actress and that affair ended up in the gossip columns? So what if some jerk is going to write a salacious book that will reveal all her so-called secrets? Her mother has taught her to be classy even in the face of adversity, so she's doing just that. Audra, however, is more affected than she lets on by the news that Deana Davis is penning a tell-all about her. Before she found herself in the limelight, she had a child whom she subsequently gave up for adoption. You can bet that Deana will find out about this.

When her stepson Jonas is in town, she decides to ask him to stay at her place because she knows that he can't stand his father (her ex-husband). Jonas and Audra have over the years bonded well so when Jonas learns of Audra's dilemma, he offers to meet Audra's daughter and break the news to her. It is better that this poor dear learns of Audra directly instead of hearing about it when the news break on TV and the reporters show up at her doorstep, after all.

Sunday "Sunny" Adams is understandably skeptical when she is first approached by Jonas. However, she has no issues about meeting her mother, so she is soon getting along with Audra as if they have always been the best of friends. She also learns that, in what seems like a stroke of good luck, our attorney heroine has been working in a firm belonging to her biological father all along. She even starts feeling sparks fly between her and Jonas. The only dark cloud in Sunny's life at the moment is the fact that she has to defend her friend against a murder case. That case is going to play a big part of the subplot because, let's face it, there isn't much else to go on the personal front of these characters.

Let's start with the good stuff. Like pretty much many of Ms Sims' heroes and heroines, Sunny and Jonas are likable types who are intelligent. The romance here is one of the better ones the author has written in a while, as I get to see the characters interact and fall in love slowly but surely, and it's fun. That scene late in the story where Sunny starts shrieking like a crazy woman how much she loves Jonas has me grinning because that scene is just too cute for words!

Sunny and Audra are strong female characters, in this case Sunny often overshadowing Jonas at many moments because... Well, that can't be helped, I suppose, because competent and strong heroes are everywhere in the genre while similarly competent and strong heroines are much harder to come across. In this story, Sunny is strong and competent while remaining real. Which is to say, she is not a one-dimensional poster girl for a cause, nor is she a superheroine. She comes off like a tough and hard-nailed woman who still has her moments of human vulnerabilities. It makes sense that, with her not-always-rosy childhood, she has grown up to become one tough determined lady as a result.

The suspense elements aren't too bad. There aren't too many surprises to be had in the suspense subplot, but the author has integrated Sunny's subplot into the story well enough. However, I wish that Ms Sims has left out Jonas' activist drama - that one is awkwardly inserted and doesn't seem to be going anywhere compared to Sunny's more compelling subplot. Jonas' subplot also causes him to break out now and then into soapbox-style speeches that feel awkwardly artificial and preachy.

On the downside, I am reading the electronic book version of Three Wishes, so this problem could very well be limited only to that version, but I find the layout of this book to be quite messy. For example, there are two flashbacks that show up back to back within the first forty pages and these two flashbacks take the reader back to the same place and time in the past. However, instead of having the two flashbacks combined into one, the author chooses to have the same italicized header headlining each flashback. That will still be fine, if the second flashback in question doesn't abruptly jump back to the present without warning. Shouldn't there be some kind of extra spacing between paragraphs to mark the end of a flashback and the return to the present?

On a more serious front, there are often abrupt jumps of points-of-view. Normally this is still okay with me, except when the author hops from the head of one female character to another female character, which can happen pretty often, because that is when things can become confusing.

All things considered, Three Wishes is a most enjoyable read. I find that it's actually better written, tighter plotted, and more romantic than the author's last few books, so hopefully this will be a trend that will continue in the author's future books!

Rating: 85

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