by Tamara Sneed, contemporary (2001)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-143-X
Falling in love with a prince is still the ultimate selling fantasy in a romance novel. Right? Never mind Princess Di pouring cold water over any aspiring-royalty fantasies - wouldn't it be wonderful to have Prince Goran Visjnic sucking my princessy toes? Tamara Sneed's A Royal Vow is a romance between a prince and a commoner. But the author is so in awe with her own princely character that she tries to pass off royal jerktitude as an "Oh, indulge him, honey, he's a PRINCE for chrissakes!" wave-off.
Davis Beriyia is the heir to the throne in some faraway lil' island. But he decides to head off to LA to indulge in some harmless lil' frolicking. He poses as a handyman at Abbie Barnes' apartment, and fully intends to have a last minute fling with her before he heads back to marry his intended, Lady Sophia.
Mind you, he is a prince, and a stag night with our heroine under fake pretenses is A-OK, because, hey, dudettes, he's a prince, yo! Who doesn't want to be showered by His Manly Affections, yes? Anyway, Davis soon gets news that an anarchist rebel group leader is out for his blood. "But I haven't even boned that chick yet - alright, I'm coming!"
Abby soon suspects that the attempts on her life are perpetuated by men after her DEA brother. Davis can't tell her the reason why, really - he's a Prince, everyone should defer to his wishes. Besides, it's cute this chick takes the blame for their troubles. Can he bone her now?
The really grotesquely bad caricature of a bad guy, complete with over-the-top psychotic tendencies, leers as he plots to sell our heroine to a harem (quit those Bertrice Small novels, Kevin!) and kill our hero in slow-mo drama. Our two leads then break free and swim across the oceans, braving cold, sharks, muscle cramps to finally reach a tropical paradise where the dumb natives think that our heroine is some Prophetess/Goddess figure.
Davis and Tribal Chief duke it out over our luscious heroine. Guess who wins.
Finally, after the cornball and cheese adventures end and our lovey twosome get settled down in Davis' kingdom, our hero starts displaying his princely prowess. "Woman, me talk, you listen, you shut up. Me want bone-bone with you. You shut up, open legs, let me Prince at you. Me prince, me do anything good, you want, you want!"
Okay, he's more eloquent than that, but the story basically revolves around the premise that Davis continues behaving like a jackass, expecting Abby and the world to go his way because he is a Prince. You could argue that since he is a Prince and he is born and raised in indulgence, he has the right to behave that way. But towards the end, I'd like to see some humility and respect for the woman. But all we get is everyone deferring to Prince Davis Brayingmule because he is a prince. A one-note humorless, boring, dull, boorish Prince who starts out fully intending to use and ditch Abby and ends up expecting Abby to cater to his every wish.
Abby fares better as a character, but she's no challenge to Davis. Nothing in this book even challenges Davis' perception or philosophies fully. Hence, A Royal Vow isn't just a "Someday my prince will come" fantasy, it's a "Someday my prince will come and walk all over me" fantasy, perfect for readers who even in this time and age can't wipe off the blind adoration of theirs for anything royalty.
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