Abuse victim Scheri Bloom encounters Jinn, Azizi ab’d al Jadu and her life is never the same in Cynthia Lucas’ Smoke and MirrorZ, a 2014 Rone Award nominee for Best Paranormal. The Rone Awards spotlight the very best and reward excellence in the Indie and small-publishing industry. Ms. Lucas is no stranger when it comes to finding herself in the spotlight as she’s previously been a finalist for a Rone Award and a quarter-finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award.
In this, her latest novel, I encounter a supernatural hero I’ve never read about before: a Jinn, or better known to the public, a genie. The book opens with interesting mythology on the Jinn, but if you’re thinking big and blue and voiced by Robin Williams, prepare to be disappointed. If you’re thinking tall, dark and very sexy, you’re in for a treat.
Azizi ab’d al Jadu, aka “Z”, meets Scheri Bloom while she’s on the run from an abusive husband and hoping to hide among the carnies of a local carnival. She inadvertently finds herself assisting Z during his act and with his magic touch he’s able to read Scheri, sensing her violent background, and more importantly, her fear. Against his better judgment and nature, Z finds himself wanting to help and protect Scheri. The fact that his fading powers get a jolt when she’s around helps him make the decision to help keep her safe.
Those familiar with the tale of 1001 Nights or Arabian Nights (or even Disney’s Aladdin) will find a familiarity within the story as we find out that Scheri’s full name is Scheherazade, the heroine of the ancient tale who found herself at the mercy of a serial killer husband. Z recognizes the irony immediately and sees the possibility of fate bringing the two together.
Smoke and MirrorZ is an interesting story, the mythology is fascinating. The carnival setting was fun, though I wish it had been explored a bit more and not just a poorly used tool to set up Z’s magic act. We do meet Louie, a typical New Yorker, who runs a concession stand. He’s a tad cliché, but funny and protective of Scheri. Sadly, he’s the only carny that we meet and I feel that Lucas missed an opportunity to add colorful characters to what was, at times, a dark story.
While we learn much about Z and see his character truly grow throughout the course of the book, it was a disappointment not to see the same of Scheri. For me, she remained the same beginning to end. As a victim of domestic abuse, to include horrific sexual assaults, I feel Lucas, though very well-intentioned, failed to give enough attention to Scheri’s recovery. While the reader is a spectator to her abuse, we see nothing typical about her recovery. There is no counseling, she experiences very little guilt or self-esteem issues that are characteristic for an abuse victim, who tends to blame themselves for what is happening. Other than a woman in the audience of Z’s show I don’t recall her even speaking to another woman during the course of the story. She relies completely on Z, which I would think is unhealthy in this situation, despite the magical nature of their love.
Z and Scheri do share a great deal of chemistry and the book truly shines when they’re together. They’re sexy and funny, trading delightful quips that had me laughing out loud. Despite this, the pacing of the story was choppy, the timeline appeared to jump around frequently making it difficult to keep track of when events occurred. And, much to my dismay, there were many typos and editing issues which leant itself to the choppiness of the story. Honestly, Ms. Lucas is a talented storyteller and a day or two spent fine-tuning Smoke and MirrorZ would make this book five stars worthy.
If you’re interested in this paranormal romance, you can find it here at Amazon.com.
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