Desert Dreams
by Gracie C McKeever, paranormal (2001)
NovelBooks Inc, $6.00, ISBN 1-931696-10-1


Desert Dreams is a genie romance, but it goes one further than most genies: it brings up the cultural and religious differences between Mr Genie (half-genie, actually) and the heroine. While the author doesn't go that far - for instance, while genie Kane (what kind of name is that for a Muslim genie?) follows Allah and there are mention of Muslim cultures everywhere, there is a surprising scarcity of actual details of the culture and religion. Apart from the mention heroine Therese's Christian beliefs, there is actually very little delving under the surface. But the author bringing the differences in the first place is good.

Therese has lost her husband and is feeling all torn up, especially since they were always arguing about her busy career and their childless status. Why didn't she compromise when Jury was alive? Why, why, why? Then she frees Kane unwittingly from his prison one day, and woosh, her life changes. Kane, however, has issues of his own, including vengeance on betrayals and all. He doesn't like mushy things like love too, while Therese is still rather bruised to fall in love so soon. What to do, people?

This book is an uneven book. There are some awkward phrases here and there, especially at the early legs of the story, but as the story progresses, the author seems to have gotten into the rhythm of things. She brings up Therese's loss and grief so well, sometimes it's like me walking in Therese's shoes. In this way, Therese has some depths. Kane is more of a stock hulabaloo macho genie, and sometimes he borders on being an irritating thickheaded mule, but he's not too bad. See, I didn't even gnash my teeth even once, except maybe towards the end when his thickheadedness can become really annoying.

The author's bringing up the matter of religious differences is also a double-edged sword as there is no resolution to the differences. Well, at the happy ending, who converted?

Desert Dreams is actually a pretty standard genie romance, but its willingness to bring up issues most romance novels avoid like plague set it apart from the others. It's enjoyable and pretty readable too, the awkward phrasings here and there notwithstanding. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.

Rating: 85


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