Every Wish Way is a severely mediocre–if cute–insubstantial romance with annoying points that keep it far away from an A grade. Writing quirks and goofy plot twists abound, and the overall result is breezy and inoffensive.
Architect Iza was raised by a mother who staunchly refuses to believe that true love exists. She hates men so much that she conceived Iza using a sperm donor and refuses to date. Iza keeps hoping that love is real, but her fumbling attempts at finding romance keep dead-ending because of her poor choice in mates – or her belief that her mother will not like them. Then she ends up summoning a genie named Beckett. Who comes out of her bottle of nail polish.
She doesn’t mean to draw Beckett to her, but now that she has him in her life she decides to take advantage of his skills. They get drunk together, and she asks him to conjure her mother’s ideal man to life – Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice – but as a modern incarnation, in the hope of convincing her misandrist mother that love is real. Beckett does as Iza wishes. But Darcy is not so easily won.
Iza proceeds to run herself ragged trying to convince Darcy to love her, dealing with the ramifications of her other wishes, and trying to ignore her percolating feelings for Beckett, who is a party-hearty frat boy-type who prods and teases Iza. Who does she really love? Can she attain perfection? Will Beckett have to get back in the bottle?
Every Wish Way combines Weird Science with Earth Girls are Easy and a heavy, oh so heavy, dash of Pride and Prejudice. Yet it misses out on the spacy former notes of the films while deifying the mannered romance of the latter, and shelves its most interesting ideas about dimension hopping and workplace tension for bizarrely delivered ideas about romance and parenthood. The end result is a messy and mediocre novel that’s only occasionally amusing.
Iza is a hurricane of tensions. The book tries to acknowledge this but it’s like being trapped in an elevator with the most obnoxious basket case in all existence. Her mommy issues are so major they could be seen by astronauts orbiting the earth, yet it takes Beckett’s intervention for them to be pointed out to her. She’s obsessed with the idea of falling in love and doing so as soon as possible, yet hasn’t put herself out there on dating apps before throwing herself at Conjured Darcy the Perfect Man. The problem is that she’s so obsessed with gaining her mother’s approval that she rejects a couple of worthy guys in an attempt at impressing her, which comes off as obsessive to the nth degree. Her mother is not sympathetic, so Iza’s constant need to impress her seems foolish.
Beckett is no help to her at first; he mainly comes off as an obnoxious, drunken jerk, grammar-snarking at Iza and standing apart from her life and making judgement calls. But unlike Iza, he gets to develop and change in multiple ways. For the first time, he actually has to care about a human charge. For, you see, it turns out he’s in her nail polish bottle because of a curse that prevents him from lying and has granted him his powers and…well, you’ll see. Of course true love is the solution. He’s the reason this book isn’t a D.
The Iza and Beckett romance does show flashes of potential (another reason why this isn’t a D) and if the plot would just get out of the way it might have been developed into something greater. Alas!
The Darcy element doesn’t work, at all, and reads like it was tacked on at the request of an editor. The author lost me when she decided that HER Darcy was a sexist twit and Wickham was actually a misunderstood egalitarian hero! Bright suggests an interesting notion, that fictional characters live on beyond their author’s pen and said authors may not know of it, but it’s not a fully-explored concept here.
As you can probably tell, the world building is all over the place. No one in this novel acts like a normal human being, from Iza’s architect co-workers winning her over by playing some frankly mean pranks on her to Iza’s best friend and roommate, who who invites Iza into the room while she’s performing medical procedures on large animals (yes really).
The writing style also has some big flaws. Bright’s tendency to lean on emphatic italics was really annoying. Especially because it pops up non-stop in both thought processes and actual dialogue.
I admit I picked up this book hoping it would take a bit of a poke at Romancelandia’s slavish interest in Pride and Prejudice. Instead it does a poor job of paying tribute to the book itself and the romance genre at large. Every Wish Way is likely to grate on most readers.
Note: Authors: It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you quote the beginning of Pride and Prejudice in your first paragraph, I will compare you to Jane Austen and find you lacking. I know your heroine’s mother is obsessed with the book! I know that she’s so obsessed she actually has a genie bring Darcy to life so she can romance him. Stop it already! PLEASE READ ANOTHER AUSTEN NOVEL!
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