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Prince Joe, by Suzanne Brockmannprince-joe-original-cover

The first title in Ms Brockmann’s Tall, Dark and Dangerous series and released originally in June 1996, Prince Joe introduces the first of her now famous SEALs-this time, it’s the Alpha Squad from Team Ten. During my quest to convert erm… introduce my s.o. to romance in the course of the last three or so years, we have re-read many of my favorites. It was finally time for me to revisit Lt Joe Catalanotto.

Back cover blurb:


The government wanted Veronica St. John to teach a tough, combat-hardened Navy SEAL how to impersonate a visiting European crown prince who’d been targeted by terrorists. But even if every gorgeous inch of him did look the part, this guy simply wasn’t prince material.

It wasn’t just that everything about Lieutenant Joe Catalanotto — from his New York accent to his arrogant, streetwise attitude — said he was anything but an aristocrat. No, the real trouble was the way he made his refined, upper-crust teacher want to slap him silly — and then kiss him senseless…

prince-joe-reissue-coverSo let’s have a wee bit of a discussion about it, shall we?

Lemme see…

Could you see hints of Ms Brockmann’s current writing voice in this earlier work?

I: Hints, certainly. But Ms Brockmann’s writing, voice and plotting have improved – in my opinion – greatly since this book was published.

a: This was my first Brockmann, oh so many moons ago, and yes, indeed, I can readily hear her writing voice in Prince Joe. Of course she has improved, but her ear for dialogue and her characterization have been excellent from the start.

What is your take on the external conflict that sets the two main characters together? Utterly unbelievable? Written well enough to pass muster? Written well enough not to get in the way?

I: It was not utterly unbelievable, but I had to use a lot of salt to swallow my disbelief. I think it didn’t get in the way much because it really wasn’t part of the action, much. I mean, they talked about it quite a bit, but there wasn’t anything happening regarding that conflict except briefly at the beginning, very briefly in the middle, and briefly in the end.

a: At the time it was written it was more believable than it would be now, but even then there was a bit of glossing over-so to speak-over interagency protocol, diplomacy, politics and the occasional bit of common sense (what were Tedric’s motivations again?)

Conflict between two main characters: misunderstanding of motivations, believable or not? Consistent with characterization or not?

I: That conflict-which could have been ended if the two characters had sat down and talked to each other for about a minute-started to wear thin at the end, for me. So, I’d have to say that I felt it slightly inconsistent, just because I really had a hard time believing these two people would let it last as long as it did.

a: And here we disagree rather strongly. Yes, these are two intelligent and supposedly mature people, so why not indulge in some plain speaking instead of operating on so many assumptions? Yet, on the other hand, they really didn’t know each other that well, and had enough emotional baggage-though Veronica’s is less well grounded than Joe’s-to justify their being skittish, so to speak.
Have anything to say about characterization?

I: Honestly, the two main characters were not special, or memorable, in the way that the characters in her recent works are. They weren’t badly sketched, they had some good moments, but they didn’t stand out very much.

a: I believe that the fact that this novel was my introduction to Ms Brockmann’s work colors my perception of the characters-I’m very fond of them-while agreeing that they don’t have the depth of most (if not all) her more recent creations.

Secondary conflict between two main villains–believable?

I: No.


a: We really need to do something about your tendency to blather on and on, m’dear.


a: (I agree-even taking the über-evilness of Diosdado into account, the other guy’s actions just don’t follow)

Military/Naval background, well done or not? Quibbles?

I: It was OK, but the Navy must have changed since I was in; I didn’t realize they were signing up Supermen. Joe Catalanotto seemed to be a kind of combination Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Robert Redford, Rambo, etc.  Nobody in the military ever says, about himself or a shipmate, that a person isn’t afraid of anything. Being a hero isn’t about not being afraid, it’s about being afraid but doing your job, anyway.

a: *swoons*

I: Truly, it was fun, but not persuasive. Final grade:  6.8 (’cause it’s a little bit better than 6.75)

a: Well, even seeing a lot of what you see, I still like it quite a bit better than you-I give it 7.25 out of 10


  • che
    January 23
    5:29 pm

    It’s been a while since I read this but I recall the heroine being too much of a twit and a snob for me to enjoy it. He speaks a foreign language! And the series of silly little misunderstandings annoyed me to no end.

    About the only thing I could say I liked was the surname of Catalanotto.

    My grade: C, or to use your meter, probably a 5.

    eta: My fave of this series is Forever Blue and the scene where the cop heroine has to pat down the hero for weapons…swoon.


  • I prefer the newer cover. The man’s hair was too long in the original to pass for military of any branch. And that gal looks like she’s stoned and in urgent need of eye drops to blink.


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