Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW: Loose and Easy by Tara Janzen

Dear Ms. Janzen:

I really liked the first Steele Street stories. One thing, in particular, is that they sounded very modern. Over time, however, because the books are similar to one another, I stopped being impresed by the fresh tone because, well, it wasn’t fresh anymore. And with extended exposure to anything, the flaws in the series began to stand out. This is particularly true when the flaws are consistent from book to book.

Loose and Easy by Tara JanzenLoose and Easy is focused around a twenty four hour period that starts when Johnny Ramos, former street kid and gang member, turned superfly military guy spots a high school crush apparently turning tricks. Nicknamed Easy Alex due to the lock she had between her legs, Esmee Alden is the last person he thought would have gone from Valedictorian to well, insert your own tasteless “head” joke here.

Of course, Esme is not a hooker but rather a purported expert in art recovery. She’s doing a job in Denver to get her father, who loves to gamble, out of hock for the last time. The job is pretty complicated. Get a piece of art, deliver it to the collector, get the money, pay off the bookie, threaten the bookie with some secret information, and then hightail it back to Seattle, where her home base is. Johnny is waiting to be reassigned into the special military black ops group called SDF which is headquartered out of Denver. In the meantime, he has nothing better to do that follow Easy Alex around.

In a theme that I see sadly all over these action books that have a putative female lead is that the heroine has no ability to solve the problem on her own. Easy Alex is able to recover the stolen art but from the time that Johnny shows up on the scene, he takes over. Nearly every interesting scene is viewed through his lense which, while admiring, is mostly up her skirt. While no one ever took Esme to task for her screw ups, I, as the reader, couldn’t help but wonder how she made it this far alive and healthy.

To heighten the unvaried quality of the stories, every male “good guy” character sounds the same from the hero, to the heroine’s cousin to General Grant, the head of the SDV. They all have the same mannerisms, like they were popped out of a Tuppererware popsicle mold. They all love cars. They all engage in Gee fucking louise like epithets.

Too many off hand references to past characters i.e., what the heck does whether Dylan is holding the reins too tightly on his wife, Skeeter, have to do with anything if that is the only time that issue will EVER be referenced?

Still, the action moves along quickly, there is serious chemistry between Johnny and Esme and if you read it for nothing more than a few hours entertainment, the reader probably won’t be dissatisfied. It’s not a meaty read, though, worth more than a one time trip through the pages. C+

Best regards,


This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. KeriM
    Aug 30, 2008 @ 14:01:38

    I too loved the first few books in the series, but after the dissappointment of Skeeter’s story,I just counldn’t continue reading the series.

  2. Tehani
    Aug 30, 2008 @ 19:23:25

    Hi there!

    I have just blogged about you for the 4th annual BlogDay – hope that’s okay!

  3. Rebecca
    Aug 30, 2008 @ 21:53:05

    I totally agree. And its a problem with the series. And why I stopped buying the books.

    I know I’ve read some books where the women were strong and the equal (but for the obvious physical differences) to the men in the books.

    The only character that comes to mind right now is Eve Dallas. This is driving me crazy. I know that I’ve read more than one action-adventure/romantic suspense book with a strong female character whose p.o.v. drove the book.

    Help folks!

  4. Monique
    Aug 31, 2008 @ 09:13:32

    Marlena Maxwell, from Gennita Low’s Into Danger is like that. a strong woman, quite the equal of her man. So is Amber in The Hunter (also Low). Those two books feature SEALs, but all her ladies are tough and can kick some booty when needed. And her men are great too – a lot of respect for their ladies and their abilities.

  5. Jill Shalvis
    Aug 31, 2008 @ 09:57:18

    I love the Steele Street series, but my favorites remain the first two, Crazy Hot and Crazy Cool. Fast paced, great heroes and very sexy.

  6. che
    Aug 31, 2008 @ 12:39:51

    The first two were great, can’t even remember the 3rd, but I gave up on the series after the 4th book featuring Kid Chaos and his girl as the primary and the imprint guy as the secondary. The imprint guy just didn’t blow my skirt up, so I had no interest in further reading his story. Nor in Skeeter’s. IMO she was too emotionally immature as evidenced by her teenager’s-wet-dream jungle room, for example. Because of that, the relationship between an over 30+ year old (IIRC 36) Dylan and an 18? year old Skeeter squicked me out.

    I must admit that while watching the Democratic National Convention the past week, I was wondering where LoDo was.

  7. Monique
    Aug 31, 2008 @ 15:09:13

    Apparently there is no way to edit my comment or I would have. I totally forgot to mention that if you want to try out Gennita Low, you can read a free e-book on her website. Please read the author’s note in the front of the first chapter.

  8. Susan
    Aug 31, 2008 @ 18:52:49

    Monique – I second your recommendation of Gennita Low (The Hunter and Into Danger are 2 of my favorites!) and I wonder if this site has reviewed any of her books before?

  9. Kaetrin
    Aug 31, 2008 @ 21:01:47

    I have bought all the Steele Street books – something more to do with my obsession for collections than that the books themselves are a “must-buy” I think (!). I really loved the first 2 but I agree with the comments above, they all got a bit the same after that. I enjoy them for what they are and I love the “voice” Tara Janzen uses. She’s fast paced, easy to read (I can knock one over in an evening) and she writes a good sex scene (although, again, the ones in her earlier books were better I think). I check my “reality meter” at the door and dive on in. For me, it’s sort of like “Wanted” (the movie), except it’s a book – oh, and Angelina Jolie isn’t in it and of course, she does kick butt… LOL! What I mean is that the story is a hoot but don’t look too closely to find logic, believability, laws of physics in action (!), or you’ll be disappointed.
    For the kick-ass heroine, definitely Eve Dallas (JD Robb), Marlena, Amber, Nikki, Lily – all of the female leads from Gennita Low – in the series, the girls have their own superspy agency. I think her characters are well nuanced between strength, ability, flaws and vulnerabilities – so are the men. Like Susan, I wonder if this site has reviewed any of her books – I tried to do a search but didn’t come up with anything). I’m curious to know what DA thinks.
    Also Alyssa Locke and to a (slightly) lesser degree Teri and Lindsey in the Troubleshooters books by Suz Brockmann. A couple of Cherry Adair’s heroines are pretty feisty too.
    Getting back to Tara Janzen – I will probably buy this book at some stage (collection you know!) and I’ll read it when I want a “popcorn” book to read that I don’t have to think about too much.

  10. Gennita Low
    Sep 02, 2008 @ 08:23:00

    Thank you, Monique, Susan and Kaetrin, for recommending my books! Wow, this really made my morning, to see my heroines compared to Eve Dallas, who’s my favorite strong woman. And yes, I’m giving away a free serial e-book at my site, an older manuscript written in 1999 and finaled in the Golden Heart. I’m updating and doing minor revisions as I read along and so far, it has been an interesting experience rereading my first serious manuscript! Sort of like sending out a first page entry to Dear Author, but I’m doing it in chapters instead.

    Thanks again!

  11. Keisha
    Sep 08, 2008 @ 15:38:28

    I absolutely love the CRAZY/LOOSE series and had been counting down the days until this book came out since about January. I don’t want to say I was disappointed but the saving grace for this book is the set up of the next book, I think it is called Breaking Loose. Now I have to wait another freaking year but that’s OK. I’m such a sap for J.T.!

    PS- Angelina Jolie with long blond hair like she had in “Gone In 60 Seconds” is my Skeeter. They really should make a movie from this series.

  12. Karen
    Jan 03, 2009 @ 11:14:20

    Love, Love, Love the Crazy series – I don’t expect it to be Dostoevsky, I expect it to be a quick, fun read with memorable characters and fast-paced action. My favorite was Christian Hawkins’ story (OMG, that car scene!) – but Crazy Sweet (Dylan’s) runs a close second. Skeeter is over 21, not 18, and she is far more mature than her age; the pairing didn’t bother me at all.
    My least favorite was Loose and Easy, but only b/c I didn’t feel connected to Johnny at all – I thought he was the least interesting of the male leads so far.

    But I was hoping against hope that JT would be alive – is that going to be true???

  13. Book reviews
    May 31, 2009 @ 17:19:00

    Romance novels. where would I be without them. I also love th crazy series. Very fast paced

%d bloggers like this: