Operation Prince Charming
Operation Prince Charming is Phyllis Bourne’s second novel, and a certain level of inexperience is evident. All in all it’s a decent romance, but not one that is very memorable.
Ever since Detective Hunter Coleman’s girlfriend inherited a whole lot of money, she’s changed. No longer the fun, easy-going girl he fell in love with, she’s obsessed with breaking into Nashville’s elite, trying to buy her friends through philanthropy and attendance at all the right charity balls. Hunter is no longer quite up to scratch for this lifestyle, so she pays to send him to Spencer School of Etiquette. Hoping that his old girlfriend will come back and that she’ll snap out of this phase, he agrees.
His instructor isn’t the old woman who runs the school, though; it’s her niece Ali Spencer, who ran away from personal and professional downfall to help her aunt bring the school out of the red and into the twenty-first century. The fees for her new student’s private tuition will help, but Hunter isn’t what she expects. The two can’t deny the attraction between them, and Hunter is torn between his loyalties to a woman who no longer exists and his growing affection for Ali.
I have to give credit where it’s due. This story walks along the fine line of one of those romance taboos: infidelity. For the most part, it’s done well, staying away from any impropriety or ickiness by making it clear that Hunter’s relationship is already on the outs before he ever meets Ali. That said, all blame is shoved on the girlfriend, and she’s too flat of a character. I would have preferred her to be likable while still maintaining that she had changed, and thus she and Hunter were no longer compatible. I guess the author felt we needed a villain in the relationship, though, and it certainly wasn’t going to be Hunter.
The story was strangely paced. It was filled with very short scenes — maybe a few lines of dialogue — followed by reflection by one of the characters a little while later (any where between a few hours to a few days). I would have preferred longer scenes with self-aware characters than so many brief conversations. That said, I think the relationship itself between Hunter and Ali was well paced. It developed smoothly, and felt natural.
It was these minor annoyances that added up to this grade. In the end, despite having good points, Operation Prince Charming just wasn’t memorable.