Grady Harp’s 5-Star Review (on behalf of the San Francisco Review of Books) on Goodreads, October 7, 2018
“Look, I’m sorry. I was having a rough night, and I took it out on you.”
Canadian author Kathleen Jones earned her degree in English Literature from the University of Toronto. She worked as an editor for various Canadian book publishers. Now Kathleen is a full-time author who writes for a number of popular book blogs and contributes monthly book reviews to Goodreads. LOVE IS THE PUNCH LINE is her debut novel. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
For a first novel LOVE IS THE PUNCH LINE is not only a very original idea for a romance but it is also written with a joie de vivre style that suggests the beginning of a very successful career. Her prose is infused with humor and contemporary ideas of where we all are at this point in history and she is able to set her scenery and stage props early on in the first pages of this endearing romance.
An excerpt follows: ‘Josh Steinberg’s mission in life was to make other people laugh, but these days, he could barely make himself smile. “Good evening, everyone,” Josh said, starting his act in a halting voice, his eyes sweeping the half-empty, dimly lit room. What a dive. The Yahoo Comedy Club in Toronto? Never heard of it before. Why does Greg keep lining up these crappy gigs? And how did I end up with an agent who knows nothing about the comedy business? Serves me right for hiring someone who used to be a roadie with a rock band. Josh smiled at the half-drunken faces before him, then launched into his routine — the usual shtick about his hopeless love life. “My looks have helped me in life. I mean, no women are filing paternity suits against me.” Deep down inside, Josh knew that his looks had done absolutely nothing for him. He had never really been a hunk: five foot nine; slightly plump — always plump, even when he was young; a plain face with a big nose; thinning and graying brown hair; receding hairline; double chin. Josh especially hated his big, protruding belly; he had tried for years and years to get rid of it, with no success. As if his aging looks weren’t bad enough, Josh now had some unwelcome competition from his new twenty-eight-year-old agent, Greg. Despite his short stature, Greg was darkly handsome — and Italian — with brilliant, piercing blue eyes and perfect features. On more than one occasion, Greg had stolen the woman that Josh tried to pick up. Each and every time it happened, Josh vowed to fix himself up through the magic of drastic diets and plastic surgery. “I have to be realistic about my expectations. I mean, if I were a woman, I wouldn’t date me.” Josh had always known he wasn’t great-looking, but he had never dreamed that he would still be alone at the age of fifty-four. He believed that once women got to know him, they would see the beautiful heart under his less than gorgeous exterior. All he had ever wanted was a soul mate, one special woman who could love him as much as he could love her. Josh knew that he would make a great husband, unlike most of the other comics on the road, who often cheated on their wives. “Anyhow, don’t feel too sorry for me. I’ve slept with lots of gorgeous women. They simply can’t resist us paunchy guys.”
The synopsis hints at the pleasure ahead – ‘He courted her with punch lines. Middle-aged stand-up comedian Josh Steinberg, formerly the star of his own popular TV series, finds himself struggling to keep his career alive, playing seedier and seedier clubs. Plump, balding, and plain-looking, he has never had much luck with women. That is, until Josh meets Holly Brannigan while performing his stand-up act in a comedy club. Holly, an attractive, intelligent, and divorced 50-year-old businesswoman, becomes instantly smitten with Josh and even finds his unconventional looks wildly sexy.’
Kathleen’s debut is wholly successful – just the right amount of humanity and humor and romance. Watch her rise!