The Jailbird’s Jackpot by P.J. Colando

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I first read and revealed The Jailbird’s Jackpot in June 2021. Because it did not meet a 3 star minimum, it was not posted on Rosie Amber Reviews. You can purchase The Jailbird’s Jackpot here.

“That former closer-than-close, risk-taking friend still pouted because Dumped her weed it up often enough to seem like a nag.” – The Jailbird’s Jackpot, page 217.

Summertime! and the reading is… weird, it’s weird guys and I’m not entirely sure what combination of faulty editing, not-my-genre-ness, and missed humor this is, but P.J. Colando’s The Jailbird’s Jackpot is not my bag, or my cup of tea, or my hand of cards.

Part of this issue, probably most of this issue, is that I’m not sure why I’m supposed to like any of the people in this book. The premise is interesting, Amy, a freshly paroled con wins the lottery literally the moment she steps out of prison- hilarious! Shenanigans are sure to ensue!

These shenanigans include wrangling the good ol’ boys who run the Lions club of what we are explicitly told is a “sparsely populated” town whose best tourist days are behind it, yet inexplicably these men are important across the great state of Michigan. Again, good concept. Set in their ways men have to deal with a headstrong, mysteriously wealthy, young woman who rolls into town looking to set up a new business that will potentially draw more wealthy outsiders to the town. The Lions club cossets and indulges Amy, sets her up with multiple properties and the contractors to fix them, a bank, a lawyer, several literal free lunches, and yet our newly minted millionairess gets supremely offended when they ask her to pay $150 dollars as annual dues to be a member of this organization.

There’s an ex-boyfriend who was the reason our millionairess was sent to prison, who she spent every day inside dreaming of destroying, and that destruction is never explicitly detailed—does she want to kill him? Rob him? Prank him into oblivion? Physically maim him? Sleep with him? We, the readers, are given insight into her psyche and yet it is never made clear and everyone around our main lead alternates between treating her as a true, deadly threat to his health, or just a scamp looking to put salt in his coffee.

There’s a hanger-on friend who somehow gets roped into our millionairess’ plans. Does this friend really want to be in charge of the day-to-day running of a wellness spa or was an idea born as the product of a bender perhaps not where her true happiness lies but now she’s stuck with no way out? That’s a mystery we’ll never solve.

Why does Amy decide that her parole officer will serve nicely as a surrogate father on her first phone call with him? Why does a parole officer who we’re told has several other parolees to look after, have the ability to follow our protagonist through some combination of drones, phone tracing, and magic? If our leading lady had an ankle monitor strapped to her leg I wouldn’t have so many questions about how he knows to call and tell her to slow down when she’s speeding in her brand new Porsche, but she doesn’t and I do have questions.

And I haven’t even gotten to the sleezy brother who gets kidnapped, the fairy-godmother Woolworth’s lady, or the mobster-ex-machina that wraps this whole thing up. Or the vaguely rape-y end revenge that Amy gets in the last pages… Why are we cheering for this woman? Has she learned something beyond memorizing one Tolstoy quote that she doesn’t actually follow? Has she grown as a person? Made the world a demonstrably better, or worse place? Done something of note beyond win the lottery by happenstance?

I don’t need my protagonists to be “good” people. Give me a bastard with a vendetta or a bitch with a cause, but you have to also give me a reason to ride along with them. Give me Miranda Priestly running her empire like a queen while everyone else wants what’s hers, give me Hannibal Lecter laughing at his own superiority, or Tyler Durden listing the rules to make men feel alive again, give me something to hold on to so that I can feel their satisfaction when plans come to fruition.

With Amy, I never found that thing to grip tight.

There’s a lot in this book, and other than the quote that leads off this review that I swear was copied word for word from the document I was sent, I’m not going to touch on the editing, but the combination of stylistic choices and inconsistent editing also took me out of the story frequently.

Like I said early on, maybe this just isn’t my genre, though I’m still not entirely sure what genre exactly it was. Revenge? Thriller? Comedy? Drama? The nebulous, all-encompassing and therefore vaguely meaningless genre of “Women’s Fiction”?

2 stars. Trying to puzzle this puppy out made my head hurt.

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