Well, I whizzed through Janet Evanovich’s Valentine’s Day novella. “Whiz” being the right word – I think I finished all 176 pages in an hour, and that’s counting interruptions.
From the jacket blurb:
Mysterious men have a way of showing up in Stephanie Plum’s apartment. When the shadowy Diesel appears, he has a task for Stephanie – and he’s not taking no for an answer. Annie Hart is a “relationship expert” who is wanted for armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Stephanie needs to find her, fast. Diesel knows where she is. So they make a deal: he’ll help her get Annie if Stephanie plays matchmaker to several of Annie’s most difficult clients. But someone wants to find Annie even more than Diesel and Stephanie. Someone with a nasty temper. And someone with “unmentionable” skills. Does Diesel know more than he’s saying about Annie Hart? Does Diesel have secrets he’s keeping about Stephanie and the two men in her life-Ranger and Morelli? With Stephanie Plum in over her head, things are sure to get a little dicey and a little explosive, Jersey style!
Plum Lovin’ is set in-between the “normal” Plum books which come out every June. As such, it’s understandably difficult for Ms Evanovich to really progress the overall story arc, as not all Plum fans will shell out for this novella. She gets around this by bringing back Diesel, who was one of the main characters in her Christmas novella, Visions of Sugar Plums (another “in-between” story in the Plum world).
Diesel and his gang of friends have superhero-type powers. The relationship expert Annie Hart is pitched as a sort of Cupid character, who is on the run just before Valentine’s Day. Stephanie steps in to pick up Annie’s caseload, which involves sorting out various love matches for the usual kooky characters that populate the Plum novels. Which, as you can imagine, set the stage for some great scenes. And there is a loose plot, which is tied up rather nicely.
Unfortunately, let’s face it – the Stephanie-Morelli-Ranger love triangle is one of the main attractions of the Plum series. Stephanie-Diesel doesn’t even come close (especially when I can barely remember VoSP). When you add in the fact that this is a Valentine’s Day tie-in, a book without Morelli and Ranger is a total let-down. There is a nice Lula/Tank vignette, though, and oh, there was progress on the Valerie-Albert front.
Overall, this is one only for hard-core Plum fans, i.e. those who *have* to read all stories set in the Plum world. Avoid if you’re new to the series, because this is in no way a good introduction. Avoid if you’re a casual reader because this really isn’t a great addition to the Plum series and there are better books to spend your money on. Finally, avoid if you are one of those who are already completely frustrated with the lack of progress in the Morelli-Ranger direction – for obvious reasons!
Sigh. It’s not that bad, really. I’m just grumpy. The publisher is completely exploiting the popularity of this series by bringing this out in hardcover. I suspect this may make a re-appearance as a “free” story in one of her hardcovers (the same way VoSP was, I believe) or maybe (almost definitely, I would say), it’ll be re-issued together with VoSP as a holiday anthology.