Book Review: Janet Evanovich’s #14-21 of Stephanie Plum

Posted December 18, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: Janet Evanovich’s #14-21 of Stephanie Plum

I received this book for free from my own shelves, the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

by Janet Evanovich
Series: , , , , , , ,
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Published by Bantam, St. Martin's Press Pages: 2,165
Format: Hardcover

Also by this author: Takedown Twenty, The Chase, Top Secret Twenty-One, The Job, Stephanie Plum #3 – #7, 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, "The Shell Game", Look Alive Twenty-five, The Big Kahuna, Fortune and Glory, The Bounty

DISCLAIMER: Okay, the plugin I use (the Ultimate Book Blogger) is coded for reviewing a single book, so some of the initial data is a bit odd sounding. It’s an accumulated 2,165 pages with the individual books averaging 300-some pages each. Yes, they were almost all hardcovers with the exception of two paperbacks. The first three were from my own shelves and the rest from the library. Even my obsessive self can’t find the desire to own anymore after Sizzling Sixteen.

In continuing on with my wanting to know where the Stephanie Plum series starts to get complacent, I’m reading: Fearless Fourteen, Finger Lickin’ Fifteen, Sizzling Sixteen, Smokin’ Seventeen, Explosive Eighteen, Notorious Nineteen, Takedown Twenty, and Top Secret Twenty-One, and yeah, the downhill slide starts with Fourteen. I do have a chronological listing of the Stephanie Plum books on my website if you’re curious.

Fearless Fourteen

It’s crazy with all the treasure huntin’ action in Joe’s yard, and he and Stephanie having to babysit an odd trio of “kids”. Ranger has his share of “fun” as well with providing security with the lascivious (and old) Brenda. Naturally, there’s also the crazy elements of Stephanie’s FTAs and the underlying conflict of an old bank robbery that never got solved. Grandma Mazur is probably the nuttiest in this what with her gaming, cemetery runs, and digging up Joe’s backyard at midnight.

“‘Remember when Bob ate all your furniture? How did you get Bob to stop?’

‘I didn’t. He still eats the furniture. He has me trained to live with it.'”

Joe doesn’t get that upset over Stephanie’s actions; it’s more like he’s going through the motions. He does pick up a Happy Birthday Ken cake for her, though.

Finger Lickin’ Fifteen

Barbecuing ribs with Lula’s special sauce: ketchup with lots of pepper. Fortunately, the cross-dressing Larry came along with his secret ingredient. Ranger has his own problems with his accounts being broken into and robbed. He won’t last long if he doesn’t solve this.

“We’re so underbudgeted we’re one step away from holding bake sales to pay for toilet paper.”

It is amazing that Stephanie ever gets her man. She spends more time losing them.

“The Burg has a news pipeline that makes CNN look like chump change.”

Unfortunately the multitude of cars that Stephanie manages to bomb through is about the only real heat in Fifteen. No, there isn’t any heat coming from Joe either as Stephanie and Joe are in an off-stage.

Sizzling Sixteen

Vinnie’s misadventures are pretty funny as was the alligator encounter. Unfortunately, the greatest heat is already on the cover.

In 2010, Sizzling Sixteen was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Favorite Book, Mystery & Thriller, Favorite Heroine. God knows why.

Smokin’ Seventeen

Okay, I’m not as annoyed with Smokin’ Seventeen as I was when I first read it, although I still think Evanovich is less than excited about Stephanie these days. I did find Dave pretty funny as was Vinnie’s predicament — Steph’s mom is so desperate to see her married and shut up the neighbors. And she wants more grandchildren. Still no showy heat from Joe or Ranger.

In 2011, Smokin’ Seventeen won the Goodreads Choice Award for Mystery & Thriller.

Explosive Eighteen

Both Ranger and Joe love Stephanie, and each depends upon the other to save each other from/with her. It’s also the first time Stephanie steps out and, ahem, engages with both at the same time. No, I didn’t mean it that way. Although, ahem *grin*, I have fantasized about that one! Their romantic scenes used to be more suggestive, now they’re simply a mention, which is really frustrating since something hot went down in Hawaii and Evanovich keeps dropping teeny-tiny hints that will keep you reading on.

Yes, the humor is there. I suspect I was so bummed about the lack of heat, that it colored everything about how I felt with that first read-through.

Notorious Nineteen

Someone from Ranger’s past is targeting the people Ranger cares for, which puts Stephanie in the crosshairs…and a bright pink bridesmaid dress that she absolute hates. Okay, so that last comment was superfluous as Stephanie hates all such dresses. It’s going through the motions without the heat, still. A good indicator on how emotionless Notorious Nineteen is Joe isn’t talking about Pepto-Bismol anymore. That nudie beach is a crack-up, though.

Takedown Twenty

There’s very little Joe in this with Ranger taking on the majority of what Stephanie needs, although the sexual heat is still off. Joe’s family, however, takes a large role — not in a good way. No, not at all. Evanovich is still going through the motions: no craziness with Vinnie and almost no Joe…sigh…

Top Secret Twenty-One

Whew, this one is more tense than the others what with a dangerous nemesis from Ranger’s past threatening everyone around Ranger and the mystery surrounding Jimmy Poletti and his fellow poker players. I think the best part was Grandma fulfilling part of her bucket list: seeing Ranger naked!

In 2014, Top Secret Twenty-One was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Mystery & Thriller.

From 16 to 21, it seems as if Evanovich is simply going through the motions. On this second read-through, I came to suspect that the main reason I’ve gone off the series is the lack of heat between Stephanie and her men: Joe and Ranger. It does seem as if she’s skewing more toward Ranger as her potential forever.

Humor-wise, it’s mostly there, although too large a chunk seems mechanical. As if it’s part of the Stephanie Plum template, so it’s getting inserted. There’s almost nothing about Valerie and her family. Mom’s nursing dreams are ignored. Even the few encounters with Moondog are subdued. Grandma is still looking for fun in what her daughter considers all the wrong places.

One thing that strikes me is how clueless Stephanie continues to be. You’d think after twenty-one books she’d remember more of the tricks that her FTAs pull and that she really needs to get those cuffs out now. And Lula with that gun always lost in her purse. That has got to be one big honkin’ purse!

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4 responses to “Book Review: Janet Evanovich’s #14-21 of Stephanie Plum

  1. Well you just answered one question for me. I finished with 19 and never went on with the series. I remember the pink bridesmaid dress!I could never remember where I stopped.Thanks for that 🙂 Sorry you don’t like it as much, but I totally understand!

  2. Bonnie

    I am hoping a new series breaks off with Stephanie permanently signing on with Range Man and of course Ranger. She appears only to be competent with that team. Ranger lifts here up and encourages her to improve her skills. Joe wants to tamper her down to being the little woman, takes women back a good number of years. I would like to see the Range Man Group expanded.

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