|Karen Lee: Meredith's Wish|
Spell (Paperback), ISBN 0505524058
His lamp! Rub his lamp! You people really need to get your minds out of the gutter.
Or maybe you don't. That's a big part of a genie's charm. From Alex in Margaret St. George's A Wish…and a Kiss to "Jim Goodman, Ph.D." in Karen Lee's lively debut Meredith's Wish, the best genie heroes encourage you to indulge your inner imp.
Actually, Jim the Djinn left the lamp behind when the Chairman of the Djinni Board entered the computer age. Now Jim lives in an enchanted cell phone delivered to advertising whiz Meredith Montgomery shortly after she undertakes the greatest challenge of her career. Meredith's boss promised a company vice presidency to whichever of his top executives first closes the deal on their respective assignments.
Meredith agreed to develop a tourist package for the grand duchy of Hertzenstein. Just one small hitch: following a precedent dating from the 11th century, the reigning duchess will only do business with married women. In order to nail the contract, Meredith must find a husband in the few days remaining before she boards the plane to Hertzenstein.
But Meredith doesn't want just any husband. She wants to marry her soulmate like her parents did. So for the first of the three wishes offered by the standard genie/mortal contract she demands "heart-stopping, eternity-lasting, completely mind-blowing true love" -- one of only two things Jim absolutely, positively cannot deliver.
Which doesn't stop Jim from trying. Meredith attracts him, frustrates him, and steadfastly refuses to let him complete his assignment by frittering her wishes on the standard selfish pleasures. And the more Jim tries, the deeper he gets into his "assignment," and the dimmer grow his chances of avoiding being down-sized and reorganized out of his magical existence.
Lee's lead characters charm, although of all the players, only Jim comes across as a fully realized person. Nevertheless, most professional women will identify strongly with the bright and determined Meredith, especially when the efforts of her well-meaning assistants result in a series of dates from hell.
But what makes Meredith's Wish a winner and leaves you feeling warm and satisfied long after the closing page is the generosity at the story's core. Happy endings with genies don't come cheap. Chances at true love and happiness demand sacrifices and offer no guarantees. Meredith consistently rises to meet the emotional challenges of her situation as well as the professional ones. You never stop wanting her and Jim to win.
Jean Marie Ward
Jean Marie Ward's story, "Embraceable Death," can be found in the October 2000 issue of Fantasy, Folklore & Fairytales.
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