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Karen Kincy
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Shadows of Asphodel
Karen Kincy
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Kelly James Enger
Djinni and the Geek - Cindy Spencer Pape David Garvaglia isn't the kind of guy who attracts women's attention. He's much sure of himself wielding a sword on the mock battlefield of a Renaissance festival, testing the latest video game on his computer, or casting spells with friends to rescue the local dragon from a wannabe sorcerer. While he never expected the puzzle box he bought from an unusual antique store owner to contain a ravishing djinni who claims she will grant him three wishes, he's not dumbstruck either.

Anissa has spent nearly a century enslaved to the will of others. Cursed into the box by a powerful wizard, her chance for freedom is finally at hand...or so she thought, until she got a look at her shaggy-haired, bespeckled "hero." First impressions can deceive though and as the days pass, Anissa realizes David is a far more capable white knight than originally perceived and with their mutual desire rising, she finds herself unwilling to risk David's life for release from her imprisonment.

Can two lovers from--literally--different worlds defeat an all-consuming evil and forge their own happily ever after?

Cindy Spencer Pape takes an age-old legend and gives it a whole new spin in DJINNI AND THE GEEK, starting with the djinni's origins. While most stories consist of a genie in a brass lamp discovered in a Middle Eastern or North African desert location, Pape's cursed puzzle box originates in Medieval England, with the story itself set in the modern United States. We're also given told the history of Anissa's curse and how she came by her first master, an detail that is usually left un-addressed. The addition of limits on Anissa's djinni powers also allowed for a wonderful grounding and realism to the tale's more fantastic elements.

Some traditional elements remain--such as Anissa being subject to her current master's whims--but she is not your stereo typical obsequious servant: from wishes she choses not to grant because they conflict with her own moral code, to doing learn everything she can about the current era of each incarnation. She is a well-defined, self-determined female character with a core of steal.

Rest assured that David's geekiness in no way makes him an unequal match for his magical counterpart. I found Pape's creation of a strong, intelligent male character who, despite a hard-scrabble childhood on the streets, time served in the military, and penchant for sword-fighting at Renaissance festivals, always used his brain in difficult situations before jumping into the fray with his animalistic brawn.

My only complaint is the villain, Murdoch of Moorland. I expected a character of charisma and malevolence, but found him surprisingly bland and flat once he graced the page. Other than this slight misstep, DJINNI AND THE GEEK is a red hot read that kept me up, turning the pages all night.

Originally posted at TwoLipsReviews.com.