Long before author Janet Evanovich turned Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter extraordinaire, loose 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 for extra spice. These small treats, (like a piece of good chocolate, they lift your spirits), were published by the Loveswept line between the years 1988 and 1992. I have read and enjoyed almost all of them. It is also interesting, if you are an Evanovich fan, to read one of her early novelettes and compare it, her characters and her now famous humor, with her latest work. "The Grand Finale" is one of the weakest books in the series. It is a short, simple romance with minimal plot.
Lingonberry Knudsen, called Berry, is a young divorcee and pizza parlor owner with an extraordinarily kind heart. She recently advertised for a delivery boy but hired three homeless old woman instead. Two of them cannot drive, poor eyesight, and one has no sense of direction, so they're back at the pizzeria baking, while Berry is in an isolated part of town making deliveries after dark in her battered surplus army jeep. The three older ladies also moved in with Berry, who lives in a small space over the store. One can hardly expect Lingonberry to send them back to their old spot on the floor at the train station. As she approaches what seems to be a deserted house, she hears a kitten crying...or mewing. The tiny kitty cat is stuck up a tree. So up Berry climbs to the rescue, just in time to see the home owner, and prospective pizza owner, drive up in a perfectly restored Stutz Bearcat, enter the house, climb the stairs to his bedroom and proceed to undress - no shades - almost exactly at Berry's eye level. She lets go of the branch she has been sitting on, while ogling, just as Mr. Gorgeous drops his briefs. Needless to say, she falls out of the tree, on top of the pizza, and screams. Thus she meets tall, dark and handsome Jake Sawyer.
Jake teaches first grade school at the local elementary school. As a chemist, he originally worked as a corporate chemist in R&D. He hated his job and hated standing/sitting under florescent lights everyday. Therefore Jake Sawyer set his mind to work on something more interesting - Gunk! He invented Gunk, which all kids and some adults love. "It creeps. It crawls. It comes in five scents and three flavors (yes, it's edible). It's freezable. It's disgusting!" Don't tell that to the kids.`
So we have adorable Berry with a talent for disaster; Jake the answer to almost every disaster I can think of; Mrs. Dugan, Mrs. Fitz and Mildred, three outrageously eccentric old women, a new dog and a lot of home made butterscotch pudding.
As I wrote previously, this is short, simple and sweet. If fluff offends you, steer clear of "The Grand Finale," written in the days when Janet Evanovich was developing the talent that authored the terrific Stephanie Plum series. There are other books in this Loveswept series which are much more interesting, although not really more complex than this one.