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By Janet Evanovich

Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2008, c1992 ($7.99)
ISBN-10: 0060598921
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-059892-1

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Before there was Stephanie Plum, there were twelve romance novels written by Janet Evanovich. They met with modest success at the time. Nine of them are being re-released, with a few tweaks and some updating of the technology -- no giant cell-phones with wire antennas in the new version.

Louisa Brannigan hates her upstairs neighbor, Pete Streeter. He takes her parking space, steals her newspaper, is generally rude, crude, and socially unacceptable, and worst of all, he gets phone calls all night long, calls she can hear through the paper-thin walls of her Washington apartment. Boy, is he gonna get a good chewing out when she finally comes face to face with him! You can see whatís coming, but thatís okay, this is a fun romp with some mystery and serious bits thrown in.

Louisa just turned thirty, and is a press secretary for Senator Nolan Bishop. She is the first-born in her family, an over-achiever, responsible and serious. Pete is, of course the exact opposite. When she does confront him about his thieving, noisy ways, she is momentarily stunned -- the boy is HOT! Heís also apparently lazy, with no visible means of support, but since the car he parks in her spot is a Porsche, thereís got to be money from somewhere. The night she finds him skulking on their porch, waiting, he says, to catch somebody vandalizing his car, she considers that he might be a drug dealer. When somebody does vandalize the car parked in his space -- which is, of course, not his car -- and then starts shooting at them, she just has to think the worst of good old gorgeous Pete. He tells her he is merely a script writer, and that his trouble stems from a photo he took of a pig. Sure, thatís believable! She decides heís not a total loser, though, when she later sees him tumbling naked down the stairs, trading jabs with a fully-clothed man.

Gradually she begins to trust him. When her own career is impacted, she joins forces with him to dig into political skullduggery in the twisted halls of Washington, D.C. There is danger, murder, corruption, romance, sex, humor, and even a plot. Itís a perfect beach read, and I look forward to reading the next one.

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