March 10, 2009 - Don't Let It
Be True
released to bookstores.

March 10, 2009 - New website

March 16, 2009 - Book Signing

This Is How It Happened (Not A Love Story)


ISBN#: 978-0-061-24110-9
January 2008
Avon (An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
10 East 53rd St., New York, NY 10022
294 Pages
Rating: 5 cups

Madeline “Maddy” Piatro has received her graduate degree and opened a company with her long term boyfriend, Carlton Connors. She gives up a job she likes, and a boss worth working for, to throw everything in with Carlton on their new venture. Her life is all planned. Their business will thrive, and Carlton will eventually marry her. There is only one problem: Carlton is not what he seems.

Carlton Connors is a rich man, whose father makes him drive a rusted-out Honda. In Maddy, he sees someone who can come up with all the new ideas, supplying these along with research and prep work for their new company. Maddy provides an added asset in warming his bed. Carlton is not only self-centered, but selfish to the core.

When Carlton breaks up with her, has her office cleaned out and moves out of their home, Maddy is devastated. Now, he wants her to sign a non-competition agreement, which will make it virtually impossible for her to get a job in her field. Next she hears he is sleeping with his new CPA, which makes Maddy not only severely depressed, but homicidal. She seriously considers poisoning him to death, but only ends up making herself sick when taste testing the poison brownies. Eventually she tires of being depressed and decides to get even. So with the help of her brother, a reformed druggie, she hires a hit man. Her intention now is not to kill her former lover, but to make his life a living hell. Will her desire for revenge land her in even worse stead? Will it lose her the potential love of a good man?

I loved "This is How it Happened"! This book has everything: suspense, action, plus lots and lots of laughs. Who has not upon occasion considered doing bodily harm to someone who has hurt them, but then decided that revenge was even better? I really loved it when Maddy finally got over being depressed and decided instead she was going to make Carlton pay. And Carlton is the perfect example of every sleazebag, deadbeat jerk that most women have had the misfortune to run across at least once in their lives. Reading about how Maddy put the jerk in his place was an absolute delight. This story had me roaring with laughter much of the time, but it is so well written that you can also feel Maddy’s hurt when she realizes she has thrown away years of her life, with almost nothing to show for it. "This is How it Happened" is a funny, engaging read that I highly recommend!

Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance

This Is How It Happened (Not a Love Story)
Barrett, Jo (Author)
Feb 2008. 320 p. Avon, paperback, $13.95. (9780061241109).

After Madeline Piatro’s fiancé, Carlton Connors, steals her profitable business plan, puts the “un” into unsafe sex, and fires her, she gets mad. Then she decides to get even. First she experiments with poisons, but after a raccoon dies from eating the remains of her furniture-polish-laced brownies, Maddy tries another tactic, a revenge spell from the California Astrology Association. When this doesn’t seem to be effective, Maddy does the one thing she knows will work—she hires a Mafia hit man to do some serious damage to her ex. Barrett’s tale of revenge is one of those rare, impossible-to-put-down books. There’s a plethora of black humor, witty dialogue, and plot twists. The unique, unforgettable characters, from the justice-seeking Maddy to her recovered drug-addicted brother to the sweet-toothed hit man, all come together to make one delectably entertaining story. Barrett, the author of the international favorite The Men’s Guide to the Women’s Bathroom (2007), has created another winner with this fast, funny read.

— Shelley Mosley

This Is How It Happened (Not a Love Story) - Jo Barrett
A Perfect 10
Avon Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-06-124110-9
February 2008
Woman’s Fiction

Austin, Texas - Present Day

Madeline Piatro has just broken up with her fiancé of four years. Or so she was led to believe by the handsome to-die-for Carlton Connors. See, Carlton never told anyone they were engaged, and when he found out Madeline is pregnant, he wants her to have an abortion. And if that isn't bad enough, she loses the baby, he cheats on her at a bachelor party, breaks up with her, fires her from the company they came up with and claims all her ideas as his own.

Now Madeline wants to get even and may resort to murdering her louse of an ex-boyfriend to make herself feel better.

Madeline’s romance with Carlton was one only found in fairy tales. They met in graduate school and, after a passionate night together, Madeline never looked back. In the beginning, everything was perfect between the two. They had great sex, laughed a lot and, even though they had stress from school and work, they had each other. Madeline was such a good girlfriend she even wrote Carlton’s papers and did his homework for him so he could graduate. After four years together, Madeline was ready to get married and have kids, the whole nine yards. But Carlton wanted to prove first to his rich father that he could make it in the business world and, with Madeline by his side, they would be able to make a ton of money. Madeline came up with an idea for an organic food company for children and, because of her amazing ideas, they started their business from the ground up and were soon on the way to success. But then Carlton starts to change, and that is when he pushes Madeline to the curb.

Revenge becomes the most important thing in Madeline’s life. She wants to hurt Carlton...and bad; maybe not murder him, but make him suffer like she did. Her recovering drug addict brother, Ronnie, wants her to forget and move on. Madeline simply can’t, and that is when she hires a hit man to do her dirty work! Hit man Dick hears Jane’s (Madeline’s alias) story and also wants to make Carlton suffer because he thinks she is a nice lady. But as Madeline’s best friend Heather is also about to give birth, and a new man enters her life, Madeline is at a crossroads. She can decide to move on as her brother and Heather are telling her to do, or stay depressed and have thoughts of revenge overtake her life. But why can’t she have her cake and eat it, too?

Jo Barrett has written an engaging tale of heartbreak about a woman who wants the person responsible to suffer greatly. Madeline’s voice is very amusing as she thinks of ways to kill her lousy ex, Carlton, without getting caught. This is a woman you can sympathize with who thought she had met the man of her dreams, but instead he became her worst nightmare. I was all for Madeline getting back at Carlton, who is the worst kind of man, much like the villain of the piece. Of course, Madeline doesn’t resort to murder, but her revenge is so good that you will want to stand up and applaud.

Madeline’s brother Ronnie is her support and conscience, and so is her friend Heather, who is married to Michael, a Jewish lawyer. Heather is converting to the Jewish religion and those results are hilarious. Also along for this ride is Dick, the hit man Madeline hires and gives marketing advice to, and also Carlton whom we see in flashbacks. Plus, there is the mysterious Nick, to whom Madeline becomes very attracted, but who also has his own secrets.

THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED had me laughing so much I was near tears. Even though this is about a woman’s quest for revenge, you come to realize that karma will take over, especially when you read the epilogue and see how far Madeline has come. Because this story made such an impression and will most definitely do the same with most readers, it deserves RRT's Perfect 10 award.

Kate Garrabrant
Romance Reviews Today

Chick chat: From a black-humored romantic romp to the tale of a single woman flirting her way around the world, these novels make perfect beach companions.

By Salon staff

Jun. 02, 2008 | Salon's staff is recommending summer books you can really sink your teeth into. Last week we featured killer thrillers. In this second installment, we spotlight four novels that loosely fall under the category of chick lit. They range from a black-humored romp about a spurned MBA student seeking romantic revenge to the saga of New England belles living it up in a gothic manse on the Maine coast to a single city girl who sets off on a round-the-world adventure to a funny mother-daughter duo in need of some serious bonding -- and a good bat mitzvah dress.

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This Is How It Happened (Not a Love Story) - Jo Barrett

"The problem," confides Madeline, the heroine of Jo Barrett's "This Is How It Happened," "was he was beautiful."

"He" being Carlton Connors, a diabolically attractive Texan who worms his way into Maddy's bed and heart. He's got a perfect body, a Michelangelo face, eyes of "buttered almond," a dimple in the chin … "and when he smiled at me -- that sexy sideways smile -- my thoughts dropped away and everything I was became available to him. He's one of those men I would've jumped in front of a Greyhound bus for."

Sadly for Maddy, Carlton is the bus. Before she knows it, she's doing his MBA classwork for him. ("You're so great with marketing, Maddy.") Then she's handing him her business idea -- Organics 4 Kids -- and letting him install himself as CEO. And then she's howling as he kicks her to the curb.

Oh, we're just getting started on the evil that is Carlton. He sleeps around. He cooks the company's books. He insists on unprotected sex but doesn't tell Maddy he has herpes. He gives her an engagement ring ("Forever, my Juliet") but makes her take it off around his father. He breaks up with her by e-mail. He steals her office furniture and junks her portfolio.

A woman might consider herself lucky to be rid of such a shithead, but Maddy is in no way free. When a friend asks if she's still hung up on Carlton, she answers reasonably: "I'm not hung up. I'm obsessed."

The only thing that keeps her going now is the thought of retribution. She flirts with sending Carlton poisoned brownies -- and only kills a local raccoon. She experiments with carbon monoxide poisoning -- and nearly asphyxiates herself. Finally, using the connections of her ex-con brother, she engages a hit man. Not to inflict bodily harm but to carry out a subtler course of revenge that will pierce her ex down to his black soul.

This comeuppance, it must be said, loses some of its luster because we never actually see it happen, and Barrett has further denatured her wronged-woman fantasy with a rather dim subplot about a shiksa converting to Judaism. And, OK, since I've slapped on my critic's hat, I'll concede that "This Is How It Happened" has some common chick-lit drawbacks: wavering tone, narrative slackness, a counter-feminist insistence on giving every pot its lid.

But Jo Barrett has fulfilled the basic requirements of the author-reader contract. Which is to say you'll want Maddy to get her mojo back, you'll dearly want Carlton to get stuffed, and you'll have a surprisingly relaxed time watching it happen. If Barrett hasn't squeezed her premise for its full black-comedy potential, her milder approach allows her to get at equally dark veins of feeling -- specifically, the ways in which independent women cede their sovereignty to men.

This isn't exactly a new subject, but the details still pack a punch. When Carlton flinches at the prospect of buying tampons for her, Maddy immediately sets about concealing "the cold, grim facts of my womanhood ... I wrapped my used tampons in enough toilet paper to embalm a mummy. I threw them in the outside garbage, so he'd never see them in the bathroom trash bin." She hand-washes her stained panties (but doesn't hang them in the bathroom to dry), and the rest of the time, she's shaving and plucking like a maniac and wearing makeup on Saturday mornings and getting a bikini wax every other week. On and on it goes, a litany of biological self-denial, to which a stupefied male reader can only respond: We are so not worth it.

-- Louis Bayard

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