I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
humor, romantic suspense in a hardcover edition that was published by Bantam on June 21, 2011 and has 308 pages.
Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.
(This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.)
Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Love in a Nutshell, Explosive Eighteen, Wicked Business, Notorious Nineteen, The Husband List, The Heist, Takedown Twenty, The Chase, Pros and Cons, Top Secret Twenty-One, The Job, Two for the Dough, Stephanie Plum #3 – #7, Visions of Sugar Plums, Wicked Charms, Love Overboard, Stephanie Plums, Plum Spooky, , Tricky Twenty-Two, The Pursuit, The Scam, Curious Minds, Turbo Twenty-Three, Dangerous Minds, Hardcore Twenty-Four
Seventeenth in the Stephanie Plum romance suspense series set in Trenton, New Jersey and revolving around a somewhat inept, but lovable bail bonds agent.
This is the most half-hearted Stephanie Plum installment ever! Maybe Evanovich needs to end the series if she’s not excited about it anymore as this is the third novel in a row that just hasn’t done it for me—and the worst. I mean, I don’t get it. A Stephanie Plum novel is always, or used to be, good for a lotta laughs and some hot sexual tension; this one is the red-headed stepchild.
All her characters are just going through the motions. Heck, even Lula is toned down. There’s very little that happens with the bear. When her sister’s family comes over to mom and dad’s for dinner and there’s the dinner with Brewer and his parents—nothing. There’s always some crazy thing that happens during dinner.
And what’s with the lack of birthday cake?? Stephanie always buys at least one birthday cake to gorge on instead, there is one cake that Dave bakes.
Very little interaction with any of the Rangeman employees other than Ranger’s practically word-for-word repetition of Stephanie being a line item under Entertainment. Vinnie has set up temporary bail bonds operations in Mooner’s RV and there’s nothing happening there either. Okay, so they replace all of Mooner’s black upholstery, carpeting, walls, ceiling, and countertops. That doesn’t count. The one car that blows up is almost a non-event. She lets slide an ideal moment to poke at Vinnie’s penchant for sex with ducks. Grandma Mazur’s incident at the funeral parlor is a yawn. The penultimate drama is weak.
As for the sex, Evanovich provides a few words and no emotion. She even has Stephanie having sex with Ranger without worrying about it! And since when has the sex with Ranger or Morelli not been hotter than blazes?? What drugs has Evanovich got Stephanie on?? Hmmm, let me rephrase, what drugs is Evanovich on, ’cause, dude, get her off ’em!!
This is definitely NOT going on my Buy list. I may be obsessive about buying every book in a series, but this one I will gladly skip.
Stephanie is having her usual run of not enough income with a couple of odd-duck FTAs that need capturing. She’s also wondering where her love life is going. She loves two men, can’t or won’t choose between them, and doesn’t really want to get married.
Mom figures she just needs to expand her dating pool and sets up a blind date [over dinner, of course] with Dave Brewer. Hey, he is just so eligible…he’s single. Stephanie actually considers it—hey, he cooks, what’s not to consider. In the meantime, Stephanie is enjoying some one-on-one with both Ranger and Morelli as part of her assessment approach and it’s just not working. The boys are, ahem, neck and neck in this race.
But then the bodies start turning up. Some are even turning up with gift tags addressed to Stephanie.
Stephanie Plum strongly supported by Joe Morelli and Ranger on the one hand and Lula on the other. Connie provides back up and information gathering. Valerie is Stephanie’s sister and married to Albert Kloughn; they now have four kids. Grandma Mazur is…there. Grandma Bella lays the eye on Steph a couple times.
Walter Dunphy, a.k.a., Moonman, a.k.a., Mooner has rented Vinnie his RV as a temporary office while their old building is rebuilt.
Dave Brewer is an old classmate of Steph’s from high school who has returned to Trenton. Used to be the football team captain and very popular in school—Stephanie reckons he never noticed her in school. Now he can’t seem to keep away. Worse, his mom and hers have gotten together and want to make a match of it. Well, he is a really good cook and loves being in the kitchen…
Nick Alpha has just been released from prison. Seems he’s been brooding about Stephanie killing his brother Jimmy for some time now. Evanovich has a second Ziggy character that she’s simply plugged in. What? There aren’t enough nicknames to go around and she needs to recycle??
The Cover and Title
The cover is in existence. It’s the best I can come up with as the only relationship it has to the story is that’s a three-dimensional number “17” filled with bubbles. What bubbles have to do with the story, I don’t know. As usual, the title simply refers to its position within the series. In this case, Smokin’ should be replaced with Smothered.