Review: Smokin’ Seventeen by Janet Evanovich
Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and no one knows this better than New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum.
Dead bodies are showing up in shallow graves on the empty construction lot of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. No one is sure who the killer is, or why the victims have been offed, but what is clear is that Stephanie’s name is on the killer’s list.
Short on time to find evidence proving the killer’s identity, Stephanie faces further complications when her family and friends decide that it’s time for her to choose between her longtime off-again-on-again boyfriend, Trenton cop Joe Morelli, and the bad boy in her life, security expert Ranger. Stephanie’s mom is encouraging Stephanie to dump them both and choose a former high school football star who’s just returned to town. Stephanie’s sidekick, Lula, is encouraging Stephanie to have a red-hot boudoir “bake-off.” And Grandma Bella, Morelli’s old-world grandmother, is encouraging Stephanie to move to a new state when she puts “the eye” on Stephanie.
With a cold-blooded killer after her, a handful of hot men, and a capture list that includes a dancing bear and a senior citizen vampire, Stephanie’s life looks like it’s about to go up in smoke.
Smokin’ Seventeen is vintage Stephanie Plum, and Janet Evanovich has killer chops when it comes to comedy. In my book, Lula is one of the best-written comedy sidekicks in all of fiction, making the book worth buying just to see her harebrained antics. Morelli’s Grandma Bella and her evil eye figure prominently in the story this time. Unfortunately, Stephanie has finally irritated me to distraction.
If you’ve read any of the Stephanie Plum books, you’re well aware of Joe Morelli and Ranger, and Stephanie’s inability to commit to either man. She hasn’t changed any in this book, either. She still can’t decide whether to be Morelli’s bimbo or Ranger’s love interest/entertainment. We’re at least blessed with some between-the-sheets action with Ranger before Stephanie runs the length of her mental leash and jerks to a halt.
And now there’s a third man thrown into the mix. Former high school football star Dave Brewer leaves a shady past behind and returns to Trenton to start over. When their parents insist they’d make a perfect couple, he goes right along with it, but Stephanie has enough men on her hands without taking on another one—especially one who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word no. At least Dave’s good for some funny moments and a bit of drama.
Once again, the ending of the book left an open question—Morelli or Ranger—and I don’t have it in me to care anymore. This indecision had dragged on long enough. It’s time Stephanie got her life in order and grew up. Isn’t it possible that a woman can still have crazy exploits even after she’s committed to a man? Too many writers tend to look at commitment as the kiss of death when it could easily be a fresh avenue to adventure. Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series is a prime example of a woman moving from single to committed while enjoying a hair raising occupation.
I hate that I feel so aggravated with the series because I really enjoy the writing style. In fact, I own every book Janet Evanovich has published, and yes, I’m counting all those stand-alone titles, too. While publishers push to extend a series past the point of no return, it would be nice to have some different conflicts going on for a change other than which man it will be this time. As much as I love Ranger and Lula, they aren’t enough to keep me spending my money.
And just in case you were wondering….my mental image of Ranger looks rather like Jason Momoa. If you’re not familiar with Jason, do yourself a favor and Google him. You’ll be glad you did. ;)
Also Reviewed By: Chick Lit Reviews – The Brazen Bookworm – Reflections of a Bookaholic