Lula was doing nail polish repair when I walked in. She was wearing a lemon yellow spandex dress and four-inch black platform heels, and her hair was a big pufflball of neon green.
"Is that your real hair?" I asked her.
"No way. This here's a wig. We had to do surgery on some of my hair since the chicken from hell got into it. Was that another new car you drove up in? What happened to the Shelby?"
"Shit happens," Lula said.
-- Smokin' Seventeen
Goodreads synopsis: Where there's smoke there's fire, and no one knows this better than New Jersey bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum. The bail bonds office has burned to the ground, and bodies are turning up in the empty construction lot. To make matters worse, Stephanie is working out of a motor home she shares with a dancing bear, and Joe Morelli's old world grandmother has declared a vendetta against her. And just when Stephanie decides it might be time to choose between the two men in her life, Morelli and Ranger, a third man from Stephanie's past moves back to Trenton...
My thoughts: I liked Smokin’ Seventeen a whole lot more than I’ve liked the past several Stephanie Plum books. In my mind, Books 1-11 rocked – they were funny and hugely entertaining, even if the mysteries were somewhat predictable. But you don’t read Stephanie Plum books for the plot – you read them for the quirky characters and the comical situations in which Stephanie is constantly caught. Books 12-16…well, they just weren’t good. They were repetitive and boring. I stuck with them, but if Smokin’ Seventeen hadn’t been good, I might have given up on the series.
Happily, Smokin’ Seventeen was far better than the most recent books in the series. Evanovich has cut out the weird and goofy plot twists and gone back to focusing on the characters that made the series so popular in the first place. Loony Grandma Mazur, former ho Lula and all the others are back, but there are new criminals to hunt down and, of course, a couple crazies who want to kill Stephanie. Joe Morelli and Ranger are in the book a lot, both wreaking havoc with Stephanie’s overactive hormones (see spoiler note below).
I’m glad that Evanovich is back in form, and I hope she can keep the series going longer. Explosive Eighteen will be published in November, so readers only have to wait six months (instead of the usual year) for a new full-length Plum book.
**Minor spoiler/caveat below**
Someone else might be able to confirm/deny this, but I’m fairly certain that this is the first book in which Stephanie slept with both Morelli and Ranger – in consecutive nights, literally hours apart. Super skanky, right? If it were anyone other than Stephanie, yeah, it would be. But for some reason, something that would make me throw any other book at the wall was (sort of) okay here. Evanovich explains away this bed-hopping by having Stephanie put under an old Italian curse so she literally can’t control herself. I still don't really like it, but just this once I’ll let it go.