When I first heard about this book, I was confused. What could Plum Lovin' be all about? Surely there should be a number in the title, shouldn't there? When the book arrived, I found that it's a "Between-the-Numbers NOVEL" whatever that means. I was still guessing.
As I read the book, everything felt out of kilter. The usual suspects are there, but they behave differently than usual. It's as though someone cast a spell over Stephanie Plum's universe in honor of Valentine's Day.
The best explanation I can give is to cite the James Bond movies and the way that they began as action adventures and then retreated into self-satire. That's apparently what Plum Lovin' does. There's no progression in the relationships of Stephanie with Morelli and Ranger . . . and Stephanie is now roommates (and sometimes shares a bed) with Diesel ("I'm a jerk . . . but I'm lovable") and Bob. Instead, we see the normal bounty hunting business reduced to pet-detective-level humor.
Here's the story's premise: The bounty hunting business is slow and Vinnie needs Stephanie to track down Annie Hart, who has disappeared, so he can afford to take his long-suffering wife on a cruise (pretty bizarre for Vinnie). Stephanie is having no luck finding Annie when Diesel (attractive, but sloppy) reappears in her life. He offers to turn over Annie if Stephanie will run Annie's business that helps people solve their relationship problems. Diesel and Annie turn out to be something out of Men in Black, but the references are so vague that the point isn't fully developed.
So instead of tracking down criminals, Stephanie is working on playing cupid's role before Valentine's Day: Helping a shy butcher talk to the woman who serves him coffee every day; getting the wedding-phobic Albert Kloughn to the altar with her sister, Valerie; finding the perfect man for an overwrought divorced mom who has given up on men; introducing a shy veterinarian who has been dating a gold digger to a woman who loves kids and pets; coaching a 35-year-old virgin into how to sexually initiate a relationship; and patching up a marriage that's been disturbed by snoring.
In keeping with the Valentine's Day theme, Grandma Mazur takes a leap into the world of physical upgrades with humorous results.
Where did I end up on the book? It's cute overall, and funny in a few places . . . but the pacing is off . . . the story isn't as spare as it could be . . . and the humor is more restrained.
So if you need a Stephanie Plum fix, read it. But if you want the usual Plum feast, you'll be disappointed.