Book Review

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

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Title: Wicked Appetite
Author: Janet Evanovich
Publication Info: St. Martin's 2010
ISBN: 9780312383350
Genre: Paranormal

Book Wicked Appetite Earlier last month, Sarah called upon the power of the Bitchery to help a fellow bitch out. I was looking for romances set in or around Massachusetts, as kitschy as that sounds, but I thought it would be an interesting way to learn a bit more about the area. My brother already dragged me down the Freedom Trail when he was here, and I will vow to anyone who will listen that the Freedom Trail is way longer than 2.5 miles!

I’ve compiled a reading list from your suggestions and ideally, I’d love to have all the sub-genres represented. First on the docket, is Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich. Going into it, I felt good. I’m not too heavily invested in her Stephanie Plum series, maybe two books in, so I thought I’d have a pretty objective and unbiased opinion to start. 

Unsuspecting baker, Lizzie Tucker, is about to caught up in a battle to release hell on earth. When a man worthy of being a hair model, unfortunately named Diesel, essentially demands her help in stopping what could be the apocalypse, what’s a girl to do? It’s not like you can take a pass on that. Lizzie learns that she is an Unmentionable, a being with enhanced abilities. Her specialty is that she’s able to differentiate between normal objects and magical artifacts, relics that happen to represent the Seven Deadly Sins. With Diesel’s cousin, Gerewulf “Wulf” Grimoire, playing for the other team, Lizzie and Diesel must sift through the North End of Boston’s residents to find the first stone before he does.

The first sin to tackle: Gluttony.

Despite the god awful names (Diesel? Really?), the concept was definitely something I could get behind. Seven Deadly Sins? Hunting old artifacts? Cupcakes? It’s like Julia Child and Indiana Jones had a baby. And, aside from the terrible movie, I found One for the Money to be entertaining. Needless to say, I had high hopes.

The disappointment I felt upon finishing this book is second only to Geri Halliwell, a.k.a. Ginger Spice, leaving the Spice Girls. The book was just another Stephanie Plum novel, but in a less neon-colored packaging. The heroine is quirky, clumsy, and a tad awkward. She’s got a host of oddball characters at her disposal: a cat with a glass eye, a coworker who undergoes several failed attempts at becoming a witch, an inappropriate monkey named Carl. Each character is more gimmicky than the last and they all have their own idiosyncrasies and running jokes. Unfortunately, Evanovich lays it on thick. Brooke Shields’ eyebrows kind of thick, though let’s be honest, those things are a work of art.

Carl giving people the middle finger seventeen times in thirteen chapters, not so much. And yes, I kept a running tally. We get it. He’s a rude primate, who has no concept regarding human manners and may or may not have a case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Told in first person – my least favorite of all the persons, I might add – we’re privy to Lizzie’s assessment. However, it feels more like she thinks in bullet points and lists rather than sweeping, coherent thoughts.

We all nodded, taking him in. His hair was thick and dark blond, somewhere between wind-blown, just woke up, and untamable. His skin was beach bum tan. His eyebrows were fierce and darker than his hair. His eyes were brown and assessing. His posture was confident. His body language was intimidating. His boots were dusty. His jeans were on their last legs but molded nicely to all the good parts. His navy T-shirt was splashed with flour from my chef coat.

It was enough to give me whiplash, especially when she took to describing a character’s wardrobe. I firmly believe that if it’s not terribly pertinent to the story, there’s really no need to list off what sort of sleeves a secondary character was wearing or what color her shoes were. It would have probably gone over better with me if the details were blended in, rather than rattled off like a drill sergeant.

Shortly into the book, Diesel begins bunking with Lizzie. He introduced himself that morning and after she gets off work, he has literally broken into her home and set up camp. He rebuffs her when she tells him to leave and that’s the end of that conversation. Normally, I would be willing to suspend my disbelief if Lizzy doesn’t describe herself as such, only a few pages later:

Truth is, I’m not a risk taker. Not with men. Not with money. Not with shoes. I take a multivitamin every day. I lock my doors. I wear a seat belt. I don’t eat raw meat. And I don’t go off on wild goose chases with people I don’t know.

Woman. You just agreed to let a complete stranger into your home. You will later allow him to sleep in your bed – naked – without so much as dousing his eyes in some bear mace or brandishing a kitchen knife in his general direction. Not once does she show this stranger any hostility for invading her personal space, ignoring her requests to respect said space, and essentially effing up her life, one that she seemed perfectly content with before he showed up.

Evanovich’s writing is definitely more on the comedic side, which is refreshing from the typical brooding, tortured heroes frequent in the romance genre. And we all know that humor is subjective. But I do want to give fair warning to those who may be triggered by casual and implied comments regarding rape and taking advantage of women.

At one point, Diesel says, “I like a woman who’s gullible. It makes everything so much easier.”

There are also references to Lizzie being raped or, at the very least, taken advantage of while she was unconscious, causing her abilities to be affected. The content really didn’t match the overall tone of the book and, though the matter is a serious one in my opinion, it isn’t treated as such. It’s still a mystery by the end and, once again, there’s no outrage or grave concern from Lizzie or even anyone. The situation was treated extremely poorly, in my opinion, and, quite frankly, left a bad taste in my mouth.

The reason why I didn’t completely fail the book is because it was a rather painless read. I breezed through it in under three hours while I waited for the Internet to get turned on at my apartment. I also have to commend Janet Evanovich for an interesting, though poorly executed, plot. I may continue with the Stephanie Plum series at a later date, though I think I’m going to call it quits on any future adventures of Lizzie & Diesel.


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Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    kkw says:

    I’m still recovering from having thought that ghastly Stephanie Evanovich book was written by Janet Evanovich. So while I’m thinking relieved and probably overly optimistic things about Janet’s skill as a writer in comparison, I’m still strangely reluctant to read another of her books. Which is totally unfair.
    But I’m off the hook for this one, anyway, as I have a monkey phobia.
    Also I grew up in Boston, and while I share your enthusiasm for romances set in places I am visiting, I tend not to enjoy them set somewhere I’ve lived. But I am intrigued, and greatly looking forward to your reviews of them.
    I do enjoy the Robert B Parker detective series about Spenser. Although it’s uneven, it’s definitely the best of his series (does series have a plural?), and while it isn’t a romance, it settles into a pretty idyllic romantic component, plus the way he writes about Boston is almost always perfect.

  2. 2

    I’m a pick it up if it’s there Janet Evanovich fan so I don’t think I’ll mind giving this one a pass. Although if she’d done the monkey right? This could have been epic.

  3. 3
    SB Sarah says:

    Epic Monkey can solve any plot problem, it’s true.

  4. 4
    Blossom says:

    I loved this book. I didn’t think it was another Plum novel although it is a spin off series from there. It is different from most serious paranormals I read. It’s a comedy with a paranormal twist. Yes there are some character similarities as all JE’s books have. She often borrows her characters’ traits from book to book. I’ve grown use to that though. The second book is much better. Although I didn’t find it as funny as the first one. It however is not a romance. I don’t know what you would label this series. (Urban Fantasy?)  It’s unique to anything I have read. I am a huge fan of the Stephanie Plum books so I was already very familiar with Diesel who appears in the Between the Numbers stories from that series in which Diesel and Stephanie worked together each holiday on solving cases. So if you haven’t read those books you wont understand why he is so over the top. The new series doesn’t explain enough about Diesel for those who haven’t read the Between the Numbers series. Wicked Appetite is actually Book 5 of the Diesel series.

    I have no idea where JE is going with this series the last book has little to no romantic elements in it. I just hope it isn’t abandon like she has done with previous series she has written.

  5. 5
    Brandy says:

    I call these fluff reads. Sometimes you need to suspend disbelief and read something quirky and funny. Like an above commenter I have no idea how to classify these, but romance they are not. I, too, am hopeful she doesn’t abandon the Diesel series. (I actually prefer the Wicked series to her new book, the FBI agent/professional thief book.)

  6. 6
    Amanda says:

    I probably would have graded it higher if not for the odd was-I-or-was-I-not-raped bit towards the end. I’m sure it gets explained further along in the series, but that would be a huge red flag for me, were I in that situation (Aside from the arson, ferrets, strange men kidnapping me, etc.).

    It really depends on your taste; humor is subjective after all. While I don’t mind her Stephanie Plum series and thought “One for the Money” was downright hilarious, this one was just a miss for me.

  7. 7
    Blossom says:

    That scene was due to the fact that if two Unmentionables sleep together one will loose their power. So JE used that as Lizzy didn’t know if she was now powerless when she woke up. If she had bee violated there was 50/50 chance she could no longer find the stones. If the other weird guy lost his then she would become even more valuable to Wolf who is the main villain of the series and would never be safe. So it was a serious point in the book. Was Lizzy now powerless if so how would they find the stone? I think that is what JE was going for in using that. I think it could have been done better without it seeming so out there. Some of the stuff in the Stephanie Plum series is OMG just plain wrong!  If you thought that the Lizzy scene was scary Stephanie has a near miss in Plum Spooky with one of Wolf’s Minions try to violated her. Now that was totally messed up but it did lead to one of the best Ranger scenes of the series afterward.

    I found nothing funny about either scenes. I can think of several scenes from the Plum series I feel that way with. It’s not the first time JE has wrote something disturbing and then quickly moved on to something else like it never happened.

  8. 8
    Mary says:

    I really loved the Stephanie Plum books, I discovered them 2 or 3 years ago and glommed them. I loved Stephanie, I loved the humor, I loved the mysteries, I loved Morelli. I loved them all up until about book 7 or 8, maybe 9 when I felt they became repetitive and the characters became caricatures of themselves, if that makes sense. I was fed up, but I kept reading in the hopes of some sort of a resolution. I haven’t gotten one, I’m so tired of the Morelli versus Ranger thing. Ugh. So I’ve stopped reading those.
    I gave this one a try when it came out, and it instantly rubbed me the wrong way. Lizzie is totally a less likeable Stephanie to me, and while I liked Diesel in the Between the Plums books, I didn’t feel like he was a character who really needed a whole book.
    I’ve read a lot of attempts at paranormal humor, and this one really failed for me. Someone said they would call it Urban Fantasy, and I really disagree with that title.

  9. 9
    Kelly S says:

    I didn’t like One For the Money at all when I read it so, I’m unlikely to ever read this one.

  10. 10
    Katie Lynn says:

    I read this recently; I, like you, enjoyed the plot but the characterization was too cartoony for me. I especially didn’t like the way Diesel treated or spoke to Lizzie at least half of the time. Evanovich kind of turned Lizzie into an airhead around the stones they found (tiny spoiler) because she was affected by them and Diesel was not. I wasn’t appreciative of that, as it was just another excuse for Diesel to treat her (IMO) poorly during those episodes.  I started to read the second one, which won a little for the fact that the two MCs are separated for like 3 chapters doing their own things, but gave up on it about halfway through.

  11. 11
    Aarann says:

    I would also like to know what the resolution to the was-she-or-wasn’t-she-raped question was. Because Evanovich certainly didn’t answer that question in the second book. I’m not even 100% sure Lizzie had her magical cupcake powers back in the second book. In the first book, she and Clara had their conversation about how it’s still possible to make good bakery items even without their “specialness” and then the book ended and it was not addressed in this one. Not even when it would have been the perfect time to address it (meaning the situation in the second book involving Wolf… the resolution of which seems to negate that whole plot point anyway). I really kind of wonder if Evanovich forgot about this rather massive question of was-Lizzie-or-wasn’t-she-raped-while-unconscious. And if Lizzie wasn’t raped, where did her cupcake powers go in the first book? And if she was, does that mean she’s going to get them back like the Anarchy thing in this one?

    Sorry – I just read these last week and this plot hole (actually, it’s more like a plot canyon) is still driving me NUCKING FUTS!

  12. 12
    Paula says:

    This book was horrible. I have enjoyed her other books and thought cool, another series book I can get in to. Nope, not going to be added to my must read list.

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