Jefferson Goodwin, an unassuming accountant, wants to add adventure to his lackluster existence. Determined to escape his small southern town, he signs up for a camel trek across Australia’s Simpson Desert, a trip that promises exploits with wild emus, deadly snakes, and hostile boars. But when Maxine and her Aunt Julia move in next door, this quiet bachelor finds his mettle tested in other ways. Maxine wreaks havoc on Jefferson’s well-oiled routine showing up at his door regularly with one demand after another.
Aunt Julia, a retired antiques dealer, becomes his friend and confidante. Then two priceless oil paintings and an heirloom go missing and show up on a website for an estate sale at a remote Argentinian villa. Jefferson puts his Australia trip on hold and hops a plane to Buenos Aires on a mission to retrieve the missing valuables. Wholly unprepared and without his usual meticulous planning, his quest soon has him dodging gunrunners and bullets and relying on help from an assortment of strangers.
Kara Taylor’s fiancée just dumped her for an older woman and her mother announced she’s leaving dad and going to Peru to save the vicunas. Kara’s brother moves in with her and begins applying sealants to every surface. To cope, Kara enlists the weekly services of Dr. Nicholas Shamroy, an on-line psychiatrist offering discreet counseling at reasonable rates.
He insists she adhere to a 300 word maximum per email. She develops an obsession with word count while trying to recount each week’s calamities. In the midst of her troubles, she and her brother travel to Peru to visit mother, meet the vicunas, and traipse around Machu Picchu. Kara meets a Swedish engineer but her trip takes a dark turn when she is kidnapped in Lima by a young couple who need immediate cash for loan sharks. Can she help them? Can Dr. Shamroy help her?