Spellbound
by Kathleen Nance, paranormal (2003)
LoveSpell, $6.99, ISBN 0-505-52486-4


I like Kathleen Nance's genie romances when she's all about simpler plots. Spellbound and her previous genie book Enchantment see the author trying to tackle plots on a grander scale, often sacrificing romance in the process, but unfortunately, these plots rely too much on coincidences, don't know whether to be absurd or serious and try to be both (and fail miserably), and frankly, this is just not working with me at all.

In Spellbound, Zayne, the Minstrel of Zaf, Zayne sings music to keep genies happy and peace, just like Barney in the playground. Or Clay Aiken in an auditorium filled with preteen girls desperate to lose their virginities to Le Messiah Aiken. However, poor Zayne is now troubled by mood swings and the people are sensing his unease. Unless Zayne finds a way to restore his ma'at, Britney Spears will take over Genieland. Okay, I'm kidding about Britney. This is serious. Zayne must be happy and calm again or Genieland is Doomed.

Since it's not nice to resort to pharmaceutical mood enhancers, he decides to go seek his destined soulmate, Madeline Fairbanks. I really don't want to list down the thousand ways in this story where Madeline is victimized. Let's just say she is desperate to hold on to a job she is terrified to carry out to locate her missing evil stepfather who has driven her mother to insanity while exploiting mommy's brilliant career as a songstress. This evil stepdaddy also happens to be the villain in Zayne's life and since Zayne and Madeline also happen to be linked by destiny, so this means they both share the same Daddy! Wait, not the same Daddy, but... oh, I give up. Let's just say Madeline and Zayne fall in love in what seems like one second and the rest of the book is basically our hero and heroine embarking on an adventure best described as a dime-novel Sinbad show produced by Acme Toon Factory.

Madeline being an overly-victimized passive dingbat aside, the plot of this book is seriously messed up because it relies on ridiculous contortions just so that the author can use the Catch-One-For-All Villain Of All Purposes in her story. There is only so much destiny can make up for the many coincidences piling up in this book. Zayne is an appealing hero, if a little too much on the stereotypical self-conscious "Me, me, Genie!" side, but nothing else about this messy overly-cartoonish book leaves me spellbound.

Rating: 61


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