Reviewed by May
Elsie pulled a .45 magnum long-barrel out of her pocketbook and leveled it at Steve’s zipper.
“I’d shoot him in the privates. Some people aim for the heart, some people like to gut-shoot a man, but I always aim for the privates. Word gets around when you shoot off a man’s privates. People get to be real careful of you.”
Steve owns a radio station (WZZZ) in Northern Virginia along with a healthy fortune as he comes from a wealthy family. The only other thing he could want is the girl who comes in and does a weekly 5minute slot each Monday on cooking for dogs. Her cookbook is selling enough to warrant a sequel, and she works enough jobs to support herself as she goes through graduate school.
Despite being famous for her dog cooking, she doesn’t in fact have a dog. Daisy also doesn’t have time for romance. She’s taking care of her younger brother, working an impossible amount of jobs, and trying to get her dissertation finished survive finishing school. At twenty six she’s done a number of things and seems to be pretty motivated – at least until she takes over the mid-day traffic reporting and spending more time with station owner Steve. Then all bets are off as Daisy proves herself a walking disaster, trouble magnet, and totally irresistible to the wealthy bachelor.
First of all, to read an older Janet Evanovich novel you must suspend reality and enter a world where girls can be slender but curvy (and eat like hogs) and always look adorable, where men fall madly in love with women and want to marry them before a first date, and where rich good looking generous bachelors looking to settle down are a dime a dozen. I have loved a good number of her books and antics – when the mood is right and with the right one of her books I know I will have a very good reading experience.
I read this book once before years ago and I know that I really enjoyed it. Reading it again now, I did not like it. One problem is that this formula – the silly (sometimes seemingly hapless) heroine and the wealthy ‘I want to take care of you and solve all your problems’ hero, the quirky old gun toting lady and the big hairy dog – have been done many times by this author.
In this version the story is set in Virginia outside Washington DC and a strange series of threats against the heroine helps keep these two thrust together. The book is over twenty years old so there are elements that feel a bit dated, but all things considered it holds up fairly well.
She could tick off on one hand the things that truly made her nervous: the dentist, signing her name on her income tax statement, looking in her rearview mirror and seeing a police cruiser – and Steve Crow. Standing next to Steve Crow was like taking fifteen volts of electricity. He made her feel like her scalp was smoking.
My real problem was that while some of the antics were silly, I couldn’t buy into the characters. They were flat, unbelievable, and uninteresting. I was unable to suspend my belief as I watched a bachelor living in a high rise condo drop cash for a huge dog, new SUV, and a new house all in a day because he likes a girl and wants to impress her. Indeed, Steve felt more like a high school girl’s version of her dream man verses any actual man in existence. Take for example this scene where Steve is driving his new dog (in his new car) on his way to see Daisy:
“We’re going to buy you a nice house. One with a big fenced-in yard.” A house that was closer to Daisy, Steve thought. A house that had enough room for a few dozen kids – just in case. Omigod. Did I just have a thought about kids?
His attitude towards Daisy and how he feels he can improve her life, as well as her not having a real life until he enters the picture really bothered me. That said, if you are looking for a non-steamy romance set in the nineties that features a big dog who doesn’t eat dog food and a gun toting granny/bodyguard, I encourage you to enjoy. It’s easy to see early versions of some of her Plum series characters in this book, and because I know I liked it the first time I read it considerably more than this time, I give it the benefit of the doubt in my grading.