Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich

Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich
Genre: adult fiction

There aren’t many things better in this world than a good book; unless, it’s a series of good books. I am a big fan of series. I love the sense of familiarity one gets with the characters, the storylines, and the author’s style.

So when I was browsing recently through a Borders bookstore, I was thrilled to see the latest edition of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, Fearless Fourteen.

Yup, you heard right. This is the 14th book in the series. Before you begin to feel daunted about reading 14 books, don’t. These books are the equivalent of a 30-minute sitcom on television. To call them a quick read would be an understatement.

However, their accessibility does not diminish the joy these books can bring to a lazy, Saturday afternoon or a stolen moment in the bathtub. Allow me to fill in a little of the back-story before I review the latest installment.

The series begins with One for the Money, in which readers meet our unlikely heroine Stephanie Plum. Driven by monetary desperation, Stephanie forces her slimy cousin Vinnie to give her a job as a bounty hunter, a position she has no business taking. During the first couple books, readers cringe constantly at Stephanie’s ineptitude: she gets her gun stolen by a skip, she falls for a wanted man, and she manages to attract every weirdo in the Trenton, New Jersey area, including a couple who want her dead.

After book four, one gets used to the path of disaster Stephanie wages as she doggedly goes after her bounty. However, the plot lines are rather predictable and not as enjoyable as the wacky cast of characters in the series.

Over the series, Evanovich has truly crafted some memorable, if not entirely believable, characters. First, there is Stephanie herself, a stubborn, smart-talking thirty something with an indelible independent streak. Stephanie has managed to attract not one, but two super hot, yet difficult men. First, there is the lean, hard Joe Morelli, bad boy turned decent cop. And then there’s the hot, Latin Ranger, who’s short on words and long on sexual allure.

In addition to the male love interests who keep her flummoxed, Stephanie has collected a troop of interesting sidekicks. The most prominent is her partner, Lula, a former “ho turned file clerk. Lula is a lot of woman, sass included. She is a great friend to Stephanie and they share an honest, often wacky friendship.

There are far too many characters to describe, but trust me, it’s worth it to crack open the series to get to know them.

In Fearless Fourteen, Stephanie experiences her typical trials when she tries to get her latest skip, Loretta, to do the right thing and turn herself in. However, her plans are waylaid when a bank robber kidnaps Loretta. Now, it’s Stephanie’s job to protect Loretta’s son and save Loretta’s life. As is typical with the rest of the series, everything works out well, but not without damage to Stephanie’s current vehicle and self esteem.

I wonder how long Evanovich can maintain the series, given its rather predictable formula. At the end of every book the plot is resolved, yet the everlasting love triangle of Stephanie, Joe, and Ranger is not. It might get a little old eventually, but now it is still highly enjoyable.

Recommended, but for those who need an intellectual recess

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