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The Rocky Road to Romance
by Janet Evanovich
(Harper Torch, $7.50, PG-13) 0-06-059889-1
***
The Rocky Road to Romance was originally published in 1991 as one of nine Loveswept romances Janet Evanovich published between 1988 and 1992.  In the introduction, Evanovich says that she has changed it very little except to edit some bloopers.  She also expects Stephanie Plum fans to notice the first Bob the dog.  I think that most Plum fans will notice a lot more than just Bob.

Steve Crow owns an all-news radio station in Washington, D.C. area.  One of the features of the station is regular traffic updates.  During the morning and evening rush hours, the reports originate from a helicopter, but in the middle of the day, a roving traffic reporter handles the updates in a car loaded with police scanners and radio equipment.  When this reporter rear-ends a garbage truck and ends up with a broken leg, Steve must find someone to fill in.

Daisy Adams spends her time going in a dozen directions.  She is a graduate student working on her dissertation in geriatric psychology.  To finance her education, she has several jobs.  She has a paper route, she waits tables, and she wrote a book of recipes for dogs.  She convinced Steve to hire her for a five-minute segment every Monday about dog recipes and dog stories.  When Steve offers double salary to get someone to do the afternoon traffic beat, Daisy sees an opportunity to cut back on her part-time jobs, giving her more time to study. 

Steve is skeptical about Daisy doing the job, but since she is the only one who shows any interest, he gives her a chance.  On her first solo day, she hears about a hostage situation so she speeds to the scene to give the radio station a first hand report.   She accidentally runs down the escaping criminal, a major drug dealer, allowing the police to catch him.  As he is dragged away, he vehemently threatens Daisy.  Steve takes the threats seriously and decides to do what he can to protect this woman who has become very important to him.

Daisy is attracted to Steve, but she doesn't feel she has time in her life for a serious relationship.  Besides her schooling and her jobs, she also has her fourteen-year-old brother, Kevin, temporarily living with her and she volunteers as a school crossing guard and is interning at a nursing home.  She doesn't take the threats that seriously.  When Steve insists on hiring a bodyguard to accompany her on her traffic shifts, she rejects his prospects and hires Elsie, a senior citizen who received her training through a correspondence program while recovering from hip surgery.  Elsie's big advantage is she carries a large, unregistered handgun in her purse.

Despite the threats, a firebomb, and a car chase, the story is mostly lighthearted fun.  Plum fans (of which I am one) will see not only Bob the dog's precursor, but Elsie can only be Grandma Mazur.  Daisy has Stephanie's blundering way with trouble and determined independence.  Steve is a cross between Ranger and Morelli.  His looks remind me of Ranger and he supplies Daisy with vehicles, but he also acts like Morelli because he wants her to give up some activities and move in and settle down with him.

The romance moves a bit quickly.  Steve decides that Daisy is the one for him a lot faster than seems reasonable.  It is fun watching him go to great lengths to convince her that they should be together.  Getting Bob the dog is one of the ways. 

New readers of Evanovich will enjoy her quirky humor and characters.  Seasoned readers will recognize the beginnings of some of her regular personalities.  Her publisher plans to re-release the rest of the early books.  It will be interesting to see if they are also similar.

--B. Kathy Leitle


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