One for the Money - Janet Evanovich

(Stephanie Plum, #1)

Watch out, world. Here comes Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter with attitude. She's from the "burg," a blue-collar pocket of Trenton, New Jersey, where cars are American, windows are clean, and dinner is served at six. No exceptions.

Stephanie lives five miles from her parents, trying to sever the world's longest umbilical cord. Mom is a meddler, and eccentric Grandma Mazur is a few cans short of a case. Out of work, Stephanie blackmails her bail bondsman cousin, Vinnie, into giving her a try as an "agent." She knows zilch about the job, but she figures her new pal, fearless bounty hunter Ranger, can teach her whatever it takes.

Her first assignment: nail Joe Morelli, a former cop on the run from a murder charge. He's also the irresistible jerk who took Stephanie's virginity and wrote the details on the bathroom wall of Mario's Sub Shop...and there's still powerful chemistry between the two.

But chasing Joe could prove very dangerous -- while on the case, she encounters Benito Ramirez, a heavyweight boxer known for his brutality to women. His terrifying obsession with Stephanie complicates her manhunt, and it just might lead to murder.

Meet Stephanie Plum in this thrilling, laugh-out-loud outing that made Janet Evanovich a household name.

“I attributed the incidence to temporary insanity, and in my own defense, I'd like to say I haven't run over anyone since.” 

I'm not sure why I waited so long to try this book. I think the cover threw me off. Strange, I know, and you should 'never judge a book it's cover,' I know, but there was something about it that put me off. I'm glad I took the whim and dug it out the To Be Read pile, though, as Stephanie Plum now has a new delighted fan who is eager to read the rest of her stories.

The plot is a great one, where Stephanie is as hard on her luck as she can get, having to work for a slimy relative to bring in the man who did her wrong in the past. Completely unprepared and wracked with hilarious 'accident's, the book is as amusing as it is intriguing. Small suspenseful scenes pop up too, especially with the deranged nut Ramirez. That's a sideplot not advertised that's almost as interesting as the main story.

Character wise, Stephanie is almost perfect. She's an ordinary gal scraping the bottom of the barrel, not stunningly beautiful but cute in an ordinary way, with a crappy car, intelligence and good sense of humor. Nothing is over the top with her, which is a good change for those tired of following the lives of unrealistic heroines. Her family was especially funny, especially the dialogue between dad and going-senile Grandma. Morelli is a little more stereotypical, but of course still a man you love to hate and then love again, with a strange scarred history toward the heroine not usually done in these sorts of stories. A refreshing change, there. Together all work to form a cute, exciting grouping. Ranger wasn't in much and I hated to see so little of him after he saved Stephanie - again - but I've seen hints he's shown more in coming books.

Charged with a fast pace and tense atmosphere at the right moments, never weighed down by too cutesy antics but still rich with humor and warmth, this is a book I'd recommend to many. It did have flaws, though. Stephanie was right, maybe, in her end turnaround with Morelli and his 'problem', but it disappointed me a bit too. I know the villain had more at stake in the story than was let on, but I was still surprised to see his actual role, so that was a nice surprise as well.

Violence is graphically described but not shown, so the squeamish should be fine reading through this one, while mystery hounds can rejoice, romance fans eagerly reading on. It's another book with a lot going on - Stephanie coming to terms with her loss of work, then finding another job that takes learning, fighting off the bizarre Ramirez, coming to terms with her relationship over Morelli, and the slightly abnormal family interference.

Stephanie is definitely an unlikely heroine - as Morelli is a bit of an unlikely hero - and Ranger is an unlikely helpful assistant - but it all comes together in the end to work out in a pleasing, inventive manner. I highly recommend this novel to readers of nearly any genre, for it's guaranteed to bring both chuckles and warmth.

   Book Quotes:

“I wasn't sure exactly how prostitutes determined price, but if men bought hookers by the pound, these two would be doing okay.” 

 “My body is not designed to run. My body was designed to sit in an expensive care and drive.”

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