Prince Joe (Tall, Dark & Dangerous, Book 1) by Suzanne Brockmann
Reading Level: Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 1, 1996
Pages: 256 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
This is where it all started with Suzanne Brockmann's long history of writing exciting contemporary romance novels featuring sexy, Navy SEAL heroes.
In the midst of a well-earned leave, fishing off the coast of California with his friends, Navy SEAL Lieutenant Joe Catalanotto ("Joe Cat") is scooped up by a military chopper and rushed to a secret assignment in Washington, DC before he has a chance to clean up and change.
When Joe is presented to British PR consultant, Veronica St John, she is anything but impressed with the grungy, unshaven beach bum in front of her. He has been chosen to step in as a double for Prince Tedric of Ustanzia, whom he resembles to a striking degree, and complete the prince's goodwill tour of the USA, both to protect Tedric from an assassination plot and help catch the terrorists behind it.
Though he's intensely attracted to the stuffy but gorgeous Veronica, Joe is disgusted with the assignment because he loathes Tedric. Several years before, Tedric's stubborn, uncooperative egotism resulted in a member of the SEAL team Joe leads being seriously wounded during a mission to rescue Tedric from a firestorm in Baghdad. But Joe always puts country first, and he sets aside his personal animosity to follow his orders.
Veronica informs Joe that she will supervise his physical makeover and personally train him in Tedric's speech patterns and mannerisms, an enormous task that has to be accomplished in a mere three days. Veronica is highly doubtful it can be achieved, but Joe is confidently unconcerned, and his seemingly uncaring attitude outrages Veronica.
Managing the insufferably arrogant and demanding Tedric's tour has been a nightmare assignment that Veronica only agreed to because he's the brother of her best friend. But polishing the rough-hewn Navy SEAL into a reasonable imitation of a European monarch in such a short time period makes handling Tedric himself seem like a stroll in the park in comparison. Joe will need to be as talented as an Academy Award-winning actor to pull this off--and she'll need the skill of a Stanislavski, and the patience of a saint, to coach him.
I originally read this book when it first came out in 1996, 17 years ago. It is amazing how well it has stood the test of time. (Though also very sad that terrorism is such a continuing "torn from the headlines" source of plots in popular fiction.)
Joe is a marvelous hero, and Veronica is his match in backbone, intelligence and drive. Theirs is not an "insta-love," but grows gradually as they experience the revelation of each other's true character under adversity. The romance plot is emotionally intense, sexually exciting, and frequently extremely poignant. The action-adventure plot is thrilling. In particular, the climax of the book makes full use of Joe's bravery and prowess as a SEAL. Of all the SEAL books in this series, I think this climax is hands-down the most enthralling.
When I read this book this time around, it was in Kindle format, which is well laid out, formatted and edited.
It's not essential to read the 11 books in Brockmann's Tall, Dark and Dangerous series in order, but it greatly adds to one's enjoyment to do so. Each book sets up the book that immediately follows it, introducing the SEAL who will be the hero of the next book, along with pertinent backstory. This is the order in which this series was first released:
- Prince Joe, originally published June 1996
- Forever Blue, originally published October 1996
- Frisco's Kid, originally published January 1997
- Everyday, Average Jones, originally published August 1998
- Harvard's Education, originally published October 1998
- It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, originally published December 1998
- The Admiral's Bride, originally published November 1999
- Identity: Unknown, originally published January 2000
- Get Lucky , originally published March 2000
- Taylor's Temptation, originally published July 2001
- Night Watch, originally published September 2003
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 5
Action/Adventure Plot: 5