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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review: Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum series) by Janet Evanovich


I've rated the last couple of books in the Stephanie Plum series down in the six and seven range, which is a shame since books one through nine in the series were rated up in the nines and tens. Some of those first books had me laughing so hard I almost peed myself.

There are a few laugh out loud moments in Smokin' Seventeen, but it doesn't really compare to the earlier books that way, as none of them had me rushing for the bathroom while laughing... but there is a plot in this book that is not totally ludicrous. And there is plenty of Ranger and plenty of Morelli. I had this whole theory about the insertion of a third guy that was totally wrong, but that's okay. It was a good story, so much better than the last half dozen or so offerings in this series.

Here's the blurb:

Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and no one knows this better than New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum.

Dead bodies are showing up in shallow graves on the empty construction lot of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. No one is sure who the killer is, or why the victims have been offed, but what is clear is that Stephanie’s name is on the killer’s list.

Short on time to find evidence proving the killer’s identity, Stephanie faces further complications when her family and friends decide that it’s time for her to choose between her longtime off-again-on-again boyfriend, Trenton cop Joe Morelli, and the bad boy in her life, security expert Ranger. Stephanie’s mom is encouraging Stephanie to dump them both and choose a former high school football star who’s just returned to town. Stephanie’s sidekick, Lula, is encouraging Stephanie to have a red-hot boudoir “bake-off.” And Grandma Bella, Morelli’s old-world grandmother, is encouraging Stephanie to move to a new state when she puts “the eye” on Stephanie.

With a cold-blooded killer after her, a handful of hot men, and a capture list that includes a dancing bear and a senior citizen vampire, Stephanie’s life looks like it’s about to go up in smoke.

Unfortunately, I guessed who the killer was early on in the book, but I wasn't terribly annoyed that Stephanie didn't figure it out. As readers we have a smaller pool of people to choose from than Stephanie does, so it was okay that I knew and she didn't.

I'm going to use spoiler text to discuss where the series might be going... Janet Evanovich seems to be trying to wind Stephanie up to some sort of decision in the whole Morelli versus Ranger thing. It almost sounds like Stephanie was saying a few times in this book that if Ranger were really an option, she'd choose Ranger. But we know that since he has made it clear he's not relationship material in the past, he's not actually an option other than fun time in the sack. Morelli isn't as much on my nerves as he used to be - he's not trying to change who she is anymore, and he's more accepting of her choices. She and Morelli seemed to be having a conversation towards the end that would be the first stepping stone towards them becoming exclusive again, and if that happens then no more fun sex with Ranger. The books with Morelli supposedly don't sell as well, so is JE really going to put the two of them back together? And just who does Stephanie think is going to go on a trip with her? Odds are it's neither of the guys at all, based on previous cliffhangers. (Select the spoiler text to view it.)

We only have five months to wait for Explosive Eighteen. I originally thought perhaps there was a specific reason the books needed to be almost back to back, but after reading Smokin' Seventeen I'm betting the marketing department decided they should shift the yearly schedule to the fall.

As for the writing elements:
  • There is an actual plot, and a few subplots, that aren't totally rediculous.
  • Pacing was well done.
  • Prose and dialog were fine.
  • There was also some character development this time around, with Stephanie learning from a few past mistakes, and realizing she is a better bounty hunter now than she was a year ago.
 All in all, Smokin' Seventeen was an enjoyable read. I was pleasantly surprised.

  • Book Rating: Smokin' Seventeen: 9 of 10
  • Series Rating: 7 of 10

One for the Money (1994)
Two for the Dough (1996)
Three to Get Deadly (1997)
Four to Score (1998)
High Five (1999)
Hot Six (2000)
Seven Up (2001)
Hard Eight (2002)
Visions of Sugar Plums (2003) (don't bother)
To the Nines (2003)
Ten Big Ones (2004)
Eleven on Top (2005)
Twelve Sharp (2006)
Plum Lovin' (2007) (don't bother)
Lean Mean Thirteen (2007)
Plum Lucky (January 2008) (don't bother)
Fearless Fourteen (June 2008)
Plum Spooky (January 2009)
Finger Lickin' Fifteen (June 2009)
Sizzling Sixteen (June 2010) 
Smokin' Seventeen (July 2011)
Explosive Eighteen (November 2011)


  1. I disagree that there was character development in this book. All of the characters were "off" in "Smokin' Seventeen". While this book was better than books 13-16 it still fell flat and is chalk full of recycled scenes. The "real" Stephanie would never have boinked with Ranger and Morelli during the same time period muchless without guilt. I'd rate this book a 4.

  2. Unfortunatly I stopped reading the Stephanie Plum series some time ago. I felt as though Janet was phoning it in. The first several books in the series were hysterical. After awhile it felt I was reading the same book with a few name changes.

  3. I think Stephanie managed to deal with her guilt by the whole vordo thing, it suddenly was not her fault, it was a curse. I was fine with her boinking both of them.

    I've been waiting for the characters to grow a little and stop doing the same things and making the same mistakes. To me, it wasn't that they were "off", but that they are finally realizing what they've been doing wasn't working so they are trying something else.

    This one wasn't a dud for me, but will the next book be another dud? I hope not.

  4. I was hoping Stephanie would develop more as a character. Honestly, the story line is getting old. It's time for Stephanie to make a decision and end the series. There wasn't enough Grandma Mazur or Bob, the dog, for that matter. This series has run out of steam and laughs. I give it a 3.

  5. I so agree with Anonymous about Stephanie doing Ranger and Morelli at the same time. I'm done with this series. The last several were not up to par. It takes a whole year to publish one but it reads like it takes her two weeks to write it. Janet you sullied Stephanie's reputation and the eye just didn't validate it for me.

  6. This series has been bad for a while. I thought I would try again, with 16, ughh! There is no story line as usual, it is just a series of bad scenes, which used to be funny, but too much of a good thing? How many times is Lula going to want chicken? How many crazy things are going to happen in just one chapter? I think maybe Janet is too close to her editor, you would think he/she would say something, unless if it is her daughter. Bad book, I think I will just read the spoilers for 17 to find out what happens. 16...bad bad book!

  7. yeah this book was definitely not as good as the others

    check out my review of it here:

  8. I love this series, I can't wait for Diesel to come back in Stephanies life, I wish I had a Diesel that popped in every once in a while. It would be good if all three of the guys had to work together.

  9. For me Smokin Seventeen was great. I laughed a lot and had a racing pulse during steamy scenes with Ranger (except for the porsche scene which had me snorting soda out my nose)! The whodunnit mystery part was ok, there have been worse. It is a nice, breezy summer read.