The Secret Life of Prince Charming
Author: Deb Caletti
Source: Local Library
Raised in a houseful of women with thoroughly stomped-on hearts, Quinn has grown up with the warnings about men ringing in her ears. Watch out for the red flags. Bad boys are not wounded, misunderstood, or secretly sweet--they're usually just jerks. If a guy wants to kiss your corpse back to life, he has some issues of his own. There is no such thing as Prince Charming.
She's heeded the warnings when it comes to her own romantic life, but she can't quite apply them all to her charming father, who dotes on herself and her sister Sprout in their regular visits. Then, just after getting dumped by her safe and boring boyfriend, Quinn discovers that her father has stolen treasured items from every woman who's ever passed through his life. Smarting from this double betrayal, she becomes determined to return them all.
She and Sprout meet up with their older half-sister, Frances Lee, and together they set off on a journey through the Pacific Northwest and the wreckage of their father's romantic past. Also riding along is Jake, Frances Lee's boyfriend's brother. Quinn fights her attraction to him, but can't deny that there's an irresistible pull. But on a road trip that's all about romantic disasters, does she dare get involved?
It would have been pretty easy for this whole book to be nothing more than "men bad." Baaaaad men. Ought to castrate the lot of 'em. And sometimes it does cross over into that territory. But Caletti saves it from this in two ways. First she shows some very good men. These include Andy, the devoted husband of their father's first ex, and Jake, whose bad-boy exterior (tattoos and guitars and naked first meetings, oh my!) turns out to be a cover for a warm and level-headed person who's nuts about Quinn exactly as she is.
Second, Caletti intercuts the narrative with testimonials from a variety of female characters on their own romantic mistakes, and shows that while getting involved with a jerk might be the first mistake, the second is to ignore that little voice inside that says, "This isn't right. You don't deserve this kind of treatment." If men were all bad, then women would be merely victims, and that's not the case. As this novel shows, both people in a relationship bring a certain measure of responsibility to the table, and it's when one or both forget that little fact that trouble happens.