Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7140-X
Paranormal Romance, 2001
Judi McCoy’s debut genie 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.
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 hot hunks? Money, money, money? Eh, this is a romance novel, and a 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 the 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 – “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. Other than that, I Dream of You is a fun read, although Maddie tries her best to make everyone around her miserable. Luckily for me, everyone else is too sensible to be neurotic.