I totally stepped out of the comfort zone for this one. It was both a romance (which I never read) and a story taking place in my least favorite decade (1980s), but in the spirit of CBR Bingo I went full speed ahead.
Our New Jersey native, Stephanie Plum, is down on her luck, recently laid off from her job as a lingerie buyer, and the creditors are calling. She needs some fast cash, and because this is New Jersey, her cousin Vinnie is a bail bondsman looking to hire some bounty hunters. She’s never done the job and has nothing on her resume but her plucky attitude, but $10,000 off the bail of cop- turned-possibly-con, Joseph Morelli, would fix a lot of her financial woes. But she’s inexperienced and he knows all the tricks, which makes bringing him in much harder than she expected. And of course, because this is also a romance, there’s some steamy past history and present heat between the two.
All in all, this book does its job well. The pieces are all there, the story plots along nicely never sitting on either the romance or the mystery of the case too hard, and Evanovich does a great job of giving Stephanie the tools to do the job and the correct amount of f***-ups to make her a believable character. Evanovich also expertly walks the very difficult line of giving Stephanie enough realistic terror in the face of danger while also maintaining her no-nonsense attitude and tenacity. I was prepared for everything that happened as it came, and while the twists and turns of the mystery weren’t mind blowing, they were definitely satisfying.
However, this book is a product of its time, and reading it in the midst of the #metoo movements made some of the content a little uncomfortable. For example, the first introduction we get to Joseph Morelli is when he’s ten years old and Stephanie’s six, and he basically sexually assaults her in his dad’s garage. As this book takes place in the 1980s, it’s not considered assault, it’s just a thing that happened, but Stephanie hates him enough to clip him with a car as an adult. The fact that this man becomes our main love attraction was off-putting, and it was an unnecessary detail as they have a lust-affair in high school later on.
That being said, Evanovich does a great job dealing with the rape that happens off-page, as well as writing Stephanie’s anxiety realistically after dealing with the story’s most dangerous character. I think because she did such a great job with this, the Joseph Morelli backstory seemed to stick out all the more as odd and off-putting. But for a book that’s often tongue-in-cheek, mildly funny, and doesn’t take itself too seriously, it handled difficult issues with dignity and was a fast read.
Still not my favorite genre, but I don’t regret giving it a go. 3 stars.
CBR Bingo Square: “Home, Something Home”