Long before author Janet Evanovich loosed Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter extraordinaire, on the citizens of Trenton, NJ, she wrote 12 short romance novels, all screwball comedies with happy endings, some involving just a tad of mystery/suspense. These small treats, (like a piece of good chocolate, they lift your spirits), were published, originally by the Loveswept line between the years 1988 and 1992. I have read and enjoyed them all - but then I love almost everything Ms. Evanovich writes. "Love Overboard," was released by Harper Torch, (Harper Collins), in January 2005 for those who missed the book first time around when it was titled, "Ivan Takes A Wife." Very few changes have been made to the original material other than some necessary editing.
Oddly enough, "Lover Overboard's" heroine is named Stephanie too, Stephanie Lowe, and could very well be the ancestor of Ms. Plum. Like Stephanie Plum, Stephanie Lowe is bright, witty, sexy, and in law enforcement....a former a cop. When she graduated from the Academy she looked all of sixteen, perfect to work undercover as a narc at a high school. She had personal reasons for wanting to help the kids to stay off drugs, and to put the pushers away for a long time. When she was identified by the bad guys as a cop and almost killed, she resigned from the force, burnt out. She wanted a change of pace, scenery and local culture, so she moved a good distance away from New Jersey.
Her dream home is in Camden, Maine, overlooking the ocean. Stephanie plans to turn it into a B&B for the tourists who flock to the area each year for the Windjammer cruises, as well as to spend time on the gorgeous Maine coast and offshore islands. She purchases the house, called Haben, from schooner Captain Ivan Rassmussen, a descendant of pirates. His family had lived at Haben for generations. After the sale is completed, she discovers that the toilet is dysfunctional. It leaks so bad that the bathroom floor collapses and falls into the kitchen and downstairs bathroom. The bathroom mirrors go the way of the floor. A new heater is needed desperately before the cold sets in, and the wooden porch floor is rotten. Stephanie, with limited funds, feels she has been swindled by Ivan, And the final straw, his ancient Aunt Tess, long departed from this world, (at least physically), haunts the widow's walk. Fortunately for Ivan, the ghost will only speak to women.
Stephanie's cousin Lucy, the chef on the "Josiah T. Savage," the Captain's schooner, is engaged to a plumber. The couple plan to take a week off to wed and enjoy a short honeymoon. Lucy promises Stephanie that if she will take her place as cook on Ivan's 100 year-old ship for this one week, and feed the handsome Captain, a confirmed bachelor, the crew and passengers, she will have her new husband install the toilet. Although our protagonist barely knows how to boil water, she desperately needs an indoor john. As she steps onboard the "Savage" and greets Ivan, something happens to both of them that never surfaced during the house signing. Sparks fly!! Bigtime! Ivan the Terrible finds the temperature rising rapidly. And Steph, although a virgin, really feels the heat!
The sea trip with passengers is a blast. The kitchen is only a mega disaster for a day or two. The dialogue is fast, furious and delightful. Ms. Evanovich's outrageous humor will be immediately recognizable to fans of the Stephanie Plum series. It is also fun to glimpse prototypes for her future characters.
This is a short, simple, well-written romance - wonderfully entertaining fluff. It's the perfect read for a plane trip or a dismal weekend afternoon. I enjoyed! Hope you do too!