Bibliophile reviews Prince Joe

I like reading thrillers and I like reading romances, so when I had Suzanne Brockmann’s books, which combine both genres, heartily recommended to me some time ago, I decided they sounded like something I might like reading. Add to this that the books in this series (Tall, dark and dangerous) have raked in awards and consistently get good reviews on the All About Romance website where I have discovered some of my favourite romance authors, I took the chance and requested this one, the first in the series, through TitleTrader.

If you don’t like SPOILERS, skip this part.
Navy SEAL Joe Catalanotto has a strong resemblance to Prince Tedric, a visiting dignitary trying to get American aid to develop the oil industry in his country. The resemblance is strong enough that when an attempt is made on the prince’s life, Joe is called in to double for him. The prince’s PR woman, Veronica St. John, gets the job of teaching Joe to play the prince to perfection. It is a case of instant dislike and Joe gets immense pleasure out of annoying the prim and highly strung Veronica. But in the end they reach an understanding and it turns out Joe really didn’t need much help to play the prince. As the press tour continues, Joe and Ronnie become more and more attracted to each other, which is a problem because she can not imagine being with a man whose life is always on the line, and he is worried that the high class lady may just be slumming. It takes a near-death experience before Ronnie will admit to herself that she loves Joe too much to let his profession get in the way of their happiness.

I have to say that after the anticipation that had been built up by my online reading buddies and the All About Romance reviews of Brockmann’s books, this book was a let down. Perhaps it is the subject – an American Navy SEAL, a hero of the first Gulf War, being hero worshipped by the author – and I simply picked the wrong time to read it, what with the situation in Iraq and all the barbarism shown by the U.S. military there. I will say that although Joe and co. are heroic and brave, Brockmann is careful not to be either supportive or critical of US military policies, and the prince is from an imaginary country while the terrorist’s nationality is never mentioned, so there is no-one to offend.
Her SEALS are fantasy heroes who don’t seem to have any bad habits or faults, which is not surprising considering this is romance and they each get a book of their own. But the story? Between the build-up and the climax, the story is a series of slightly altering scenes of Joe and Veronica hardly being able to keep their eyes (and hands) off each other in public, and her being more and more afraid with Joe’s every public appearance, interspersed with monotonous sex scenes that I soon started skimming over. Even the build up, the “instant dislike” angle, is not played out to its fullest comic potential, except for one funny scene where Joe fools not only Veronica, but even people close to Tedric into thinking he is the prince. The best passages are the action sequences that describe the SEALs in action, and even then Brockmann lets Joe have a stupid moment when he stops to kiss Veronica in the middle of a gunfight.

I think I will try to get my hands on the second and third books in the series, as the setting for those is much less of a fantasy one, and they have interesting storylines.

Rating: I am inclined to think if Brockmann ever decides to write pure thrillers, she could do it very well, but unfortunately I can not give this romance-thriller hybrid more than 2 stars.


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