Reasons why "If Wishes Were Curses" is the best urban fantasy I've read since The Dresden Files:
1. The protagonist, Allis Evanenko, is half-human and half-genie. What a cool concept. I rarely see genies in fantasy in any context, and I've almost never seen them used as main characters. It's understandable, of course--genies are inherently overpowered and somewhat difficult to adapt into a story. But Janeen Ippolito creates believable rules and restrictions for Allis' magic while still remaining true to the basic concept of genies that we're familiar with from folklore. Plus, Allis herself is a great character; entertainingly snarky but not irritating. She has a strong moral center which makes you want to root for her, and doesn't indulge in contrived, foolish decisions just to connect the dots of the book's plot. There are plenty of other fascinating creatures and hybrid creatures in the cast, all with their own unique and interesting personalities.
2. Allis' love interest, Cendric Antalek, is a brilliant re-interpretation of the typical vampire male lead. Not only is he not your average vampire in a biological sense, he's also the polar opposite of the brooding, irritating vamps that populate so many urban fantasy titles these days. He's more charming, gentlemanly, and light-hearted.
3. The romance between the leads is not remotely cringeworthy. It's completely believable and relatable. At first, the reader would be forgiven for assuming that the relationship is going to be hurried along so that it can fully blossom within the course of one book. However, this expectation is cleverly subverted in a way that makes the love between Allis and Cendric far deeper and more meaningful.
4. The pacing is excellent. While the story gives the reader sufficient opportunities to stop for breath, it never drags, and the stakes remain high enough to maintain interest throughout the book. My initial theories about how it was all going to turn out were proven wrong more than once thanks to various twists and turns of the plot, but it all built toward a very satisfying ending which felt earned.
If you enjoy urban fantasy, you'll definitely enjoy this book, but even if you're a bit skeptical of the genre due to the over-abundance of cliches that have saturated the market, do yourself a favor and give this one a try. I can guarantee that you'll be pleasantly surprised.