Lighthearted and often delightfully surreal, this satire lacks a fully developed story.

The Toorak Jackpot

A debut farcical novel chronicles an Australian’s sudden ascent to fame and riches.

Bert Smith, an award-winning shoe salesman, largely lives an ordinary life. Despondent after his wife leaves him, he’s suddenly informed that he’s poised to receive a substantial inheritance from a mysterious benefactor. An attorney, Oswald Eggbottom, tells Bert that he’s been chosen, for reasons that remain unclear, to receive $10 million and an opulent palace in Toorak, one of the toniest neighborhoods in Melbourne. He’s also given a share of a generous portfolio of financial assets and access to a broker to manage his new holdings. But there’s a catch: he’s obligated to introduce himself to everyone he meets as a Toorak prince. Bert leaps at the opportunity, quits his job, and begins his life of royal leisure. Despite his overnight affluence, he’s determined to become even richer and aggressively sets his sights on reaching a net worth of a billion dollars. He briefly becomes a television celebrity—although his fame is largely a source of humiliation—and desperately pursues a romantic partner with whom to share his windfall. But Bert flounders without a sense of daily purpose and feels stung by his lonesomeness. He suffers from an addiction to alcohol and ends up jeopardizing his fortune through recklessness borne of avarice. Macindoe clearly intends this book to be a satire as evidenced by the plainly absurd and generally unexplained premise that underwrites the entire plot. Most of the short work is devoted to detailing Bert’s daily meanderings: he (inexplicably) saves a woman having a heart attack with CPR and then romantically pursues her beautiful daughter. The writing is simple, almost childlike, and the plot often seems constructed for a YA audience as a result. The author displays a penchant for whimsical inventiveness and ably creates a fablelike atmosphere. The novel also reads like a parable of sorts, but it’s never entirely clear what lesson the author means to impart. Macindoe fashions some raucously funny scenes but not enough to compensate for the paucity of narrative substance.

Lighthearted and often delightfully surreal, this satire lacks a fully developed story.

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 190

Publisher: Australian eBook Publisher

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2016

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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