Dancing Shoes and Honky-Tonk Blues

Dark Roots & Cowboy Boots

A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action

Trick My Truck but Don’t Mess with My Heart

He’s No Prince Charming
by LuAnn McLane
(Signet Eclipse, $6.99, PG-13)  ISBN 978-0-451-22829-1
In the opening scene of He’s No Prince Charming, our heroine, Dakota Dunn, has just stepped into an empty cabin and walked into a spiderweb. The offended spider drops down the back of her shirt. Screeching like a demented fishwife, Dakota whips her shirt off over her head, shakes out the spider, but can’t quite bring herself to step on it because of the imagined squish and pop it will make. Any bets on who will walk through the cabin door and see Dakota in her bra, inciting him to instant lust? Could it be, oh, our hero perhaps?

As I was mentally stepping on our heroine and imagining the squish it might make (probably not what the author intended), we find out that Dakota is a washed-up former teen pop star whose cleancut image fell out of favor after a few hit singles. She’s come home to the family marina and fishing camp in Tennessee to regroup and try to reinvent herself into a badass country singer.Our hero, Trace Coleman, is a washed-up rodeo star whose badly busted-up leg brought an end to his career. Rescued from barfly status by Dakota’s father, he’s now the manager of the camp.

Also at the camp is the cook, Sierra, who is a tomboy that can’t get in touch with her feminine side, and Grady, one of the workers who may or may not have the hots for Sierra. Dakota and Sierra team up. Sierra will show Dakota how to find her wild side, and Dakota will help Sierra clean up her act. Naturally, Grady and Trace will need to rescue them from various situations, including redneck bars.

Nothing memorable here, and quite a bit that’s annoying. Dakota is one of those heroines who stumbles (falling against Trace’s chest, butt, whatever the plot needs at the moment), pratfalls (into mud puddles, etc.) and generally acts like a teenager whenever the author wants to bring her and Trace together. By the third chapter I’d had enough of her. Granted, humor is tremendously subjective, but humor that makes the heroine look like an incompetent nincompoop makes us laugh at her, not with her. I didn’t have much sympathy for Dakota. She was in her mid-twenties, but acted much younger, and I didn’t care about her problems when she obviously had so much growing up to do.

Trace is the typical brooding hero whose dreams were shattered with his leg, and he just can’t get past it. And he sure isn’t looking for love. Nothing memorable there.

He’s No Prince Charming could have been so much more, if the author had left behind the slapstick and concentrated on creating characters I could care about. The premise was cute and timely; pop princesses come and go like yesterday’s newspapers, so it’s an idea any reader can grasp. We’re told Dakota and Trace fall in love, but other than lust, I didn’t see what they had going for them. There’s little in the way of building a friendship. Mostly they bicker and deny their feelings for 200 pages or so, occasionally hitting the sheets when the mood strikes, and then at they end they’re in love.

Humor hits every reader differently, so He’s No Prince Charming might fit your reading tastes just fine. Personally, I can’t recommend it.  

--Cathy Sova

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