Prince Joe - Suzanne Brockmann

Prince Joe

by Suzanne Brockmann
Book 1 of Tall, Dark & Dangerous

Veronica St. John is facing the challenge of a lifetime. The media consultant has two days to teach a rugged Navy SEAL to impersonate a European prince who has been targeted by terrorists. It's a tough assignment, but Veronica is sure she's up to the task -- until she actually meets Joe.

Despite his physical resemblance to the handsome prince, Lieutenant Joe Catalanotto is nothing like the stuffy aristocrat. Everything about the combat-hardened Navy SEAL -- from the arrogant gleam in his eyes and streetwise attitude to the New York accent -- says regular guy, not royalty. One conversation and Veronica knows nothing could turn this military man into nobility. Joe, on the other hand, is confident he's got what it takes to complete his duty.

But neither of them expects their assignment to include falling in love . . .

This is truly a disappointing reading experience, and the honest truth is that it could have been a really great romantic suspense. There were a lot of moments that came close to making up for all the things I didn't like about this book, but not quite enough to satisfy me.

Prince Joe is what I would call a potentially promising premise ruined by an entirely too one-tracked, unerring focus on a frustratingly clichéd romance. I had already done a good amount of ranting earlier in a reading update post, so I don't want to rehash all my same grievances. But it's hard for me not to feel a little let down when I'd been so looking forward to reading this series.

When I first picked up this book, I'd skim-read the first chapter and found the writing serviceable. In fact, despite doing into this book knowing that it would be more romance than suspense, based on the book's official summary blurb, I hadn't really expected to get what I ended up getting from this book. The first two or three chapters of set-up and the last few chapters of concluding the main suspense conflict were the best chapters in the book--they managed to focus less on the absurdly clichéd love story and it made things easier to bear.

So even going into the book, I'd been expecting more.

Instead, as I'd stated in my reading update post, I got bombarded with tacky monologues from both sides of our romantic coupling, ruminating about love and lust and how Veronica and Joe make each other feel and see things differently than they've ever felt before about other lust or love interests in the past. And this entire time, very little is focused on the actual suspense aspects of the book: the fact that Joe needs to learn how to become Prince Tedric and Veronica is the consultant hired to help him.

But after a hundred pages into the book, I was already able to name several stereotypical category romance devices that are used WAY too generously in books of this genre. They make my eyes practically roll out of my head.


  • Veronica trips on a hallway rug, thus requiring Joe to catch her fall and hold her close. This fulfills the "clumsy heroine" device that is supposed to serve as an endearing trait for most.
  • Veronica lets her hair down and dances sexily to relieve stress when she thinks no one's watching. Except that Joe is watching (creepy...). This fulfills the "there's a sexy vixen hiding underneath that strong, no-nonsense exterior" device to make the heroine a bit more desirable to men.
  • Veronica falls asleep on a couch and Joe is unable to awaken her. This fulfills the "tired and exhausted heroine needs to be princess carried to bed" device. It speaks for itself.

I can name several other devices carelessly thrown into this book for the sake of building a "special, meant to be romance" for our couple. Veronica is apparently more innocent that she lets on, being almost virginal--in fact, she might as well be virginal because there is no mention of any other romantic relationships in her past or sexual experiences.

And Joe is Mr. Perfect who is apparently able to do anything and everything, and he is right at least 99% of the time. With his perfect perfectness, there's not even any need for Veronica to play consultant because apparently he's a good mimic and doesn't need to do any preparation to become Prince Tedric. And he's better at security matters than the law enforcement agency responsible for security matters.

Let's just do everything Joe's way. He's never wrong.

The only other 1% of the time that Joe is wrong is when he's being his reverse snob self and jumping to conclusions and assumptions. As I'd mentioned in my reading update, Veronica and Joe are two of THE most frustrating protagonists if only because they're stubbornly stuck on what they believe to be true of other people. Rather than learning about others and getting to know other people by asking questions and getting to know them, they just go right ahead and make up their own opinions without facts.

Anyway, if I have to go on, I might upset myself all over again.

If we focus a little less on the romance and more on the action and suspense, the book might be a decent, average read; much more balanced and less aggravating. What little I read of the SEAL operations and the rescue missions and even the pre-planning phases of Operation Make Joe into Prince Tedric--the stuff that came before Veronica and Joe met--were actually not so bad.

It's just a shame that everything seemed to just start rolling downhill as soon as the "Meet Cute" happens and the book becomes so obsessed with the romance that we forget that there are more pressing matters at hand.

Again, for a look at some previous thoughts while I was reading the book, see my reading progress update | Ani's Book Abyss.


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