Author: TJ Klune
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 350 Pages
At a Glance: The Queen & the Homo Jock King gets two made-me-feel-bipolar thumbs up.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Do you believe in love at first sight?
Sanford Stewart sure doesn’t. In fact, he pretty much believes in the exact opposite, thanks to the Homo Jock King. It seems Darren Mayne lives for nothing more than to create chaos in Sandy’s perfectly ordered life, just for the hell of it. Sandy despises him, and nothing will ever change his mind.
Or so he tells himself.
It’s not until the owner of Jack It—the club where Sandy performs as drag queen Helena Handbasket—comes to him with a desperate proposition that Sandy realizes he might have to put his feelings about Darren aside. Because Jack It will close unless someone can convince Andrew Taylor, the mayor of Tucson, to keep it open.
Someone like Darren, the mayor’s illegitimate son.
The foolproof plan is this: seduce Darren and push him to convince his father to renew Jack It’s contract with the city.
Review: You know how you finish a book and think, “Jeebus… What the french toast did I just read?” ::blinks:: Yeah. That’s The Queen & the Homo Jock King. It’s like falling down the rabbit hole into a wackadoodle wonderland filled with people I’m pretty sure are a little bit insane, because I feel like I just spent the past two days having my brain twisted inside out and slathered in crazy juice and rainbow glitter. And I liked it. But let’s not leave out the having my heart drop-kicked too, only to then end up cackling a bit dementedly about it. Here: You know how clowns and ventriloquist dummies are kind of freaky/awe-inspiring/hold me? That’s a little bit like why you can’t look away from the crazy in this book even if you wanted to.
Do not fear the asylum.
Why, you may ask? Well, there are muumuus, of course (?)… And jaw-dropping dinner conversations, natch (!)… And Nana, who may or may not be tampering with BDSM now (?)… And somewhere along the way, everyone seems to either need bitch-slapped, junk-punched, or this one other thing (…)… And the parrot named Johnny Depp is back, the one that I called “the beaked bitch” after reading Tell Me It’s Real because he is a total bitch to Paul. But not to Vince because, come on, everyone knows Johnny Depp has a thing for Vince, and would probably like to do things to him we shouldn’t discuss because that’s a love that dare not speak its name right there.
So, see? Crazy.
From Chapter One, page the first, TJ Klune sets the tone of this novel with an introduction so madcap and hilarious that you really do have to wonder if Paul and Sandy didn’t suffer some sort of head trauma growing up. Honestly. But, then again, the entire scenario is just so them that you can’t help but sit there in awe of the train wreck, the spectacle, the psychotic anarchy and ensuing hilarity of it all—there’s a morbid fascination in their crash/burn, which probably has some deep-seated psychological implication for us readers, but who cares, right? Because comedy. And because Sandy and Paul are just so huggable in that Southern well, bless their hearts… sort of way that means they’re “special.”
Sanford Stewart, aka Sandy, aka the mild-mannered insurance claims adjuster by day, was introduced in Paul and Vince’s book because Sandy is not only Paul’s best friend but also is his brother from another mother. But I guess Sandy’s also Paul’s sister from another mister because Sandy is the incomparable, the irrefutable Queen Mother of all Queens, Helena Handbasket, too. By night, Helena reigns supreme over the queendom called Jack It, but where Sandy is the demurer side in personality, Helena is nothing but ballsy-she-swagger and I-will-own-ur-bitch-ass confidence. It’s quite telling, really, that our dear Sandy sometimes finds it difficult not to hide behind Helena’s divine divaliciousness; although, it’s equally illuminating that Helena herself has a hard time not letting Sandy’s neurosis slip through a wee bit from time to time, which makes for more hilarity and mayhem (you shouldn’t expect anything less, truly). So, this is the crux of who Sandy is. He’s SanHelefordna™, though not in a scary Sybil sort of way. The paradox of Sandy and Helena, when it comes right down to it, is that they could both stand to be a little more of each other. But, I also dearly love them both as individuals—which sounds weird but it’s true nonetheless. Sandy and Helena are two distinct personalities in one Sandy shaped shell, and both are delightful in every single way.
When we’re introduced to Sandy’s archenemy, Darren Maynes, half-brother of Vince—oh my god… well, dream sequence (!!!). Just thinking about it has me giggling all over again because it’s wrong-headed and awkward and so delightful. The enemies-to-lovers romance between our Queen and the Homo Jock King is introduced, and it’s nothing short of frustrating. Surprise! I bet you expected something shmoopy there, didn’t you? But it is. So frustrating and yet, so wonderful and a little cuckoo for cocoa puffs for 350 pages, and it’s also touching and it made me want to squeeze Sandy something fierce. And the setup of their romance is so stupefying in a left-me-dumbstruck sort of way that I couldn’t help but wallow in all of its “say what, now?” There’s just so much joyful “I hate you, let’s shag now” for us in all the sangfroid that’s covering up that angry lust and those secret love pangs that only make Sandy much more Helena…ier and makes Darren so much jockier.
The Queen & the Homo Jock King is maniacal and a little diabolical, but only in the best way. This book is hilarious, but in an ironically serious way. This book is heartwarming, too, in a sometimes heartbreaking way, and it’s written with such an irreverence and snark and psychotic sentimentality—the way only TJ Klune could write it—that it’s hard not to find it and its characters entirely endearing. And it also makes you question the health of your own psyche a little bit because muumuus and a Paul-hating, Vince-obsessed parrot are just stoopid funny. All those monumental quirks serve to do, though, is to make the serious bits shine even brighter, those revelations that squeeze your heart just a little before the next paragraph happens and you’re back to cackling madly so much more resonant. Those touching moments are even more pronounced, I think, because they’d come so unexpectedly, which, in turn, made them even more relevant. We needed them to keep Sandy real and give him substance, and, of course, to make him someone who could help our Queen make our Homo Jock King a better man.
The Queen & the Homo Jock King gets two made-me-feel-bipolar thumbs up. This novel is daft and delightful, the dialogue is mind-boggling and the writing hyper-paced, the humor spot-on, the characters endearing (even if Nana is a little scary), and I adored every single word of it.
You can buy The Queen & the Homo Jock King here: