Janet Evanovich (born Janet Schneider; April 22, 1943) is an American writer. She began her career writing short contemporary romance novels under the pen name  Steffie Hall, but gained fame authoring a series of contemporary mysteries featuring Stephanie Plum, a lingerie buyer from Trenton, New Jersey, who becomes a bounty hunter to make ends meet after losing her job. The 18 novels in this series consistently top the New York Times and Amazon bestseller lists, most recently with Explosive Eighteen. The Stephanie series novels have taken a lot of attributes from Janet’s own life, Wikipedia says. She shares many commonalities with her lead character, Stephanie Plum.

Smokin’ Seventeen  published June 21, 2011, is a wonderful bubbly adventure that wraps you up really fast and keeps you entertained all the way through. I could not stop. This being my first encounter with Janet Evanovich I thought she is talking about a seventeen year old and I ignored all the advertising, labelling the book as a teen success that had nothing to do with the Women Fiction category I am interested in.

Stephanie is definitely not seventeen. She is middle aged, ready to settle, and although annoyed by the family’s over insistently attempts to get her hooked, she is stressed about not being married still, also undecidedly pondering between two hot guys (Morelli and Ranger), a cop and a famous bounty hunter, none of them the marrying kind. A third one comes along, deemed belonging to a good family, so he is being propped at every occasion by her own family, and Stephanie gets to enjoy his cooking, treasured asset that guys do not usually have. Stephanie is duped into participating at family dinners where Dave is brought along. We are the beneficiaries of some lovely uncomplicated recipes that I already started trying and result: indeed delicious.

Stephanie’s character is easy to embrace and cheer along with, although at the beginning you’d think she’s a bit of a wuss, drooling at doughnuts and running away from the shop to escape the curse of Morelli’s grandmother. Stephanie is adorable, surrounded as she is by an array of characters one more amusing than the other, some combining an Italian mix that we cannot refuse. Her grandmother is hilarious, chasing funerals and causing trouble, innocent in her explanations and attempts, witty when giving advice.

Lula is a big lady who gets really crazy if one calls her fat, fashionable woman running in stilettos and having to fix a broken nail immediately as she cannot walk any further in the midst of such catastrophe. Lula is Stephanie’s partner and they both face all sorts of convicted (crazy, pathetic, old, dead poor) people that they have to bring to court, and comical situations roll one after another, so that you keep on laughing.

There is cousin Vinnie (owner of bail bonds office), Stephanie’s boss, who is working out of Mooner’s van, as the office was burned down. Mooner, another relative, a stoner who proves to be quite helpful at finding clues, (although he is the type who falls on his head, or watches Jeopardy nonstop shouting out answers) and deserves the constant treats Stephanie bestows on him.

There are bodies found one after another and Stephanie is threatened, so she decides to get involved and find the killer.

All is a chase: Grandma Bella (the one with the curses) chases Stephanie as she does not want her to be with her grandson, family chases with meals and pushing Dave in the scene, Stephanie and Lula are chasing people on bail, some of them are chasing Stephanie in return, the three guys keep popping up…

Another curse makes Stephanie think she has become a slut (hence purchase of granny panties to keep her safe). All is resolved and the book ends as it started, suddenly.

It’s quite an easy read and the style is Bridget Jones’s Diary style, you’ll enjoy it, undoubtedly.

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