Jove, $5.99, ISBN 0-515-12974-7
Paranormal Romance, 2000
Prince of Charming is a rather whimsical romance that unfortunately gets weird on me after the halfway point. It is also a rather lopsided romance: the hero shines while the heroine is a mess. Worse, a stereotypical mess more predictable than night and day. All these factors bog this story down, making it at the end of the day an interesting could’ve-been and a rather so-so read.
Kate Carmichael is a large heroine and she also has no self-esteem. Her first boyfriend and lover suggested that there may be some porcine elements in her family tree, and she takes it to heart. Worse, her daddy abandons her as a kid to a nice lady whom she spends her time nursing when the old biddy was dying. Now, after the old lady has passed away, she is being thrown out of the house she loves by the said old lady’s relative.
While trying to find the will that will undoubtedly proves her claim to the house (not that Kate knows for certain it exists, but hey, if Nana said that Kate will be taken care of after Nana passes on, Kate knows that must be the truth!), she accidentally releases half-faerie and all-immortal Robin Goodfellow (who also made an appearance in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream unless a less dignified moniker) from a portrait he is trapped in. Robin’s gift is that he can charm people, and he and Kate band together to play treasure hunt around the house.
Kate needs the will, Robin needs to find faerie queen Titania’s circlet to appease Titania and be finally free. (Titania is furious about her hubby’s dalliance with Robin’s human mother, and takes it out on poor Robbie.) Naturally, like all wise experts predicted, close proximity in closeted spaces leads to amour.
I like Robin, who is charming and fun. But Kate, oh dear. It is one thing to write about large-sized heroines, but do we need the same old insecure, whiny large heroines again and again? Kate is not only insecure, she comes off as rather dim. Let’s just say if a witty, charming, eloquent man professes to want me despite my less-than-perfect-according-to-beauty-mags body, who am I to argue, right? Driving him away into the arms of a colleague is definitely not what I think even Ally McBeal will do under this circumstances. Kate, therefore, gets a brilliant A++ in Dysfunctional Wimpiness 101.
If her continuous insistence on her being unlovable and ugly is annoying, she has to be saddled with all the usual predictable behaviors and thought trains all mediocre romance heroines must have. Of course, a woman who has to fall in love with a portrait since she was a young girl and measures all the (lousy) men in her life according to that portrait can’t be too bright. Maybe I should make allowances.
Tepid heroine aside, there are also some strange plot holes in this story, notably Titania, who starts out like some omnipotent Alexis Harrington-meets-Cruella DeVil but in the end comes off a total amateur.
It is Robin’s buoyant personality that keeps this story afloat, although why he wouldn’t just charm that silly, weepy Kate into silence and complete capitulation is beyond me. Oh Robin, why can’t your portrait be hung on my apartment instead?