Eighteen Acres

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From the former Communications Director for the White House and current political media strategist comes a suspenseful and smart commercial novel about the first female president and all dramas and deceptions she faces both in politics and in love.

Eighteen Acres, a description used by political insiders when referring to the White House complex, follows the first female President of the United States, Charlotte Kramer, and her staff as they ...

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Eighteen Acres: A Novel

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From the former Communications Director for the White House and current political media strategist comes a suspenseful and smart commercial novel about the first female president and all dramas and deceptions she faces both in politics and in love.

Eighteen Acres, a description used by political insiders when referring to the White House complex, follows the first female President of the United States, Charlotte Kramer, and her staff as they take on dangerous threats from abroad and within her very own cabinet.

Charlotte Kramer, the 45th US President, Melanie Kingston, the White House chief of staff, and Dale Smith, a White House correspondent for one of the networks are all working tirelessly on Charlotte’s campaign for re-election. At the very moment when they should have been securing success, though, Kramer’s White House implodes under rumors of her husband’s infidelity and grave errors of judgment on the part of her closest national security advisor. In an upheaval that threatens not only the presidency, but the safety of the American people, Charlotte must fight to regain her footing and protect the the country she has given her life to serving.

Eighteen Acres combines political and family drama into one un-put-downable novel. It is a smart, juicy and fast-paced read that we’re sure fans of commercial women’s fiction will fall in total love with.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wallace, a former White House communications director for George W. Bush, does a fine job of making politics both maddening and glamorous in her compelling but uneven debut. Dale Smith, a White House correspondent, is sleeping with the husband of President Charlotte Kramer, the first female president, who faces a tough re-election campaign, while Melanie Kingston, Kramer's chief of staff, is so busy struggling with PR disasters and poll numbers that she doesn't have time for a man of her own. A possibly avoidable chopper accident on a trip to Afghanistan exposes the affair between Dale and the first gentleman, leaving Dale in the hospital and giving President Kramer a chance to connect with the American people. Though the stories of the three women intersect in interesting ways, they all come across as sexy workaholics with designer clothes and handbags, who simultaneously despise and admire D.C. politics. Still, a game-changer late in the campaign gives the plot a nice boost, revealing the strength of the female bonds. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Imagine the Republican Party winning the 45th presidency and also making history by inaugurating the first woman President. In her debut novel, Wallace capably visualizes this scenario while infusing the story with the richness of her professional experiences as political commentator, White House communications director under George W. Bush, and adviser to the campaigns of John McCain and Sarah Palin. President Charlotte Kramer is well served by her highly competent chief of staff, Melanie Kingston, as she faces a tough economy, the rigors of the Afghanistan war, low poll numbers, daunting reelection prospects, and a disintegrating marriage. Equally entertaining to envision is how a "First Man" might fare. Mr. Kramer, an entrepreneurial agent for NFL athletes, maintains his own schedule, lives in separate quarters, spends quality time with their teenage twins, and, feeling increasingly distanced from his spouse, falls in love with a young, bright, and ambitious White House correspondent. VERDICT An insider's politically balanced view into the 18 acres of the White House, its politics, and the intriguing affairs of state. A must for political junkies and fans of political fiction.—Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC
Kirkus Reviews

Given Wallace's previous gigs as G.W. Bush's communications director and an advisor to the McCain-Palin ticket, it is impossible to read her first novel about the tribulations of the country's first woman president without trying to glean factual nuggets from the often-transparent fiction.

Moderate Republican Charlotte Kramer, 45th president of the United States, heads into her re-election campaign struggling with the troubled economy and war in Afghanistan left by her (Republican) predecessor and beset by criticism that she's too cool and unemotional—aside from being female, white and Republican, she sounds a lot like Barack Obama. Chief of staff Melanie Kingston, who is burned out after 15 years in the White House, learns from her media source that Charlotte may be about to face a sex scandal on top of her governing issues. The truth that Charlotte already knows but doesn't want to share with Melanie is that her husband Peter is the one having an affair, with White House correspondent and weekend anchor Dale Smith. The presidential marriage has been a sham for years since Charlotte began putting her career before Peter and their children (cardboard characters conveniently tucked away at boarding school). When Charlotte comes under sniper attack in Afghanistan, her Secretary of Defense Roger Taylor—whose devotion is barely platonic—saves her life by switching helicopters with the press, causing Dale serious injury. Wracked by guilt, Charlotte drops everything to sit by Dale's bedside until she's well enough to travel. Charlotte fires Roger and acknowledges Peter and Dale's relationship in what turns into a PR coup. Then her trusty vice-president drops off the ticket so she can replace him with the crude, despicable Tara Meyers, a conservative Democrat with no experience but vaulting ambition; fashionista Melanie's antipathy toward Tara comes across largely in her disdain for Tara's clothes. Meanwhile go-getting Dale recovers under Peter's care only to go to work for Tara. The poor men in this novel are such pushovers.

No serious insight into how governing works, but an enjoyably gossipy dishing of Inside-the-Beltway residents of all persuasions.

Patrick Anderson
To say that Nicolle Wallace's Eighteen Acres is one of the best novels I've read about life in the White House may be faint praise—there haven't been many good ones—but her book is both an enjoyable read and a serious look at what high-level political pressures do to people.
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439194829
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 10/19/2010
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicolle Wallace

Nicolle Wallace is a political strategist and former political analyst for CBS Evening News whose recent posts include White House Communications Director under George W. Bush and campaign advisor for John McCain and Sarah Palin. Wallace lives in New York City and Connecticut.

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Read an Excerpt


Melanie pushed the tissue paper aside and gazed adoringly at the Dior bag she had splurged on for her thirty-seventh birthday. It was a ridiculous extravagance. The second most expensive bag in her closet was a Marc Jacobs she’d purchased on sale years before. The elegance of the two-thousand-dollar Dior purse would be lost on most of Melanie’s colleagues, but its perfection brought her a surprising amount of happiness.

As Melanie pulled the purse out of its protective cloth and removed the paper stuffed inside, she suddenly felt worried that all of her electronics wouldn’t fit into it properly. She looked at the three BlackBerrys—one for the classified e-mail system, one for the normal White House e-mail system, and one for her personal Yahoo account. She considered leaving one of them behind but thought better of it. Gently, she stacked the BlackBerrys, two phones, her ID for the West Wing, an ID and key for the underground command center she’d be evacuated to in case of a terrorist attack, her passes to the Pentagon and the State Department, an ID for the Camp David guard station, a West Wing parking pass, and her wallet and keys inside and closed it.

She stopped in front of the hallway mirror to attach her hard pin to the lapel of her black Armani pantsuit. The small, round pin bearing the presidential seal signaled to the United States Secret Service that she was to be granted full access to the president. Only a dozen White House staffers were given hard pins. She glanced at her reflection and nodded approvingly. Five years on a strict no-carbohydrate diet had banished her full cheeks, and the miracle of chemical straightening had finally tamed her red curls. Melanie’s hair hung in a stylish strawberry-blond bob. She scrunched her nose and leaned in to examine the creases and dark circles that rimmed her eyes. “Those look like the eyes of an old woman,” she said to herself before turning out the lights in her Georgetown condo and walking out.

“Morning guys,” she said to her agents as she hopped into the SUV that would take her less than two miles to the White House. She’d resisted full-time Secret Service protection at first, but on mornings like this, she was glad she’d relented. Snow had been falling since late the night before, and at five-thirty A.M., they would make fresh tracks.

“Happy birthday, Ms. Kingston,” Sherry said. Sherry was one of her regular agents. She turned around, smiled at Melanie, and handed her an envelope. “Open it—it’s from both of us,” she said, gesturing at Walter, Melanie’s other agent.

“Thanks, Sherry, but my birthday is a classified national security event. I didn’t even remind Char—er, President Kramer that it was today.”

“Mmm-hmm,” Walter said, glancing at Melanie in the rearview mirror as he navigated M Street in the snow. “And it’s not like she has the CIA or the FBI to turn to if she wants to find out for herself when her chief of staff’s birthday is, so you should be fine, Melanie.” He smirked. “Your secret is safe with us.”

“Shut up, Walter. Just keep your eyes on the road,” Melanie said.

“Yes, ma’am,” Walter said, still smiling.

A minute later, he pulled the car as close as possible to the entrance of the West Wing and jumped out to open the door for her.

Melanie stepped out of the SUV, holding her Dior bag protectively under her suit jacket so the fresh snow wouldn’t touch the leather. She wished she’d worn a coat, but she’d stopped dressing for the seasons years ago. It could be ninety-seven degrees outside, or minus seven, and the climate was always a cool sixty-six degrees inside the West Wing, where she’d be for the next sixteen hours.

Melanie climbed the single flight of stairs to her office and walked inside. Her assistant, Annie McKay, was already there.

“Happy birthday,” she whispered, even though no one else would have heard her if she’d yelled at the top of her lungs. Melanie always arrived before anyone else on the senior staff.

“Thanks, Annie,” Melanie said.

“Let me see it,” Annie said.

“What?” Melanie replied innocently, opening her suit jacket.

“Oh, my God, it is amazing—totally worth the splurge. It has elegant and expensive and woman of substance written all over it,” Annie exclaimed, standing to get a better look at the bag.

Melanie smiled. She settled in at her desk, casting an admiring glance at the fire that had already been lit in the fireplace. Cozy, Melanie thought. Maybe today won’t be so bad.

She looked around her spacious office on the main floor of the West Wing and wondered if it was her elevation to this most lonely job on the White House staff or growing fatigue from so many years in the political trenches that had made her reflective to the point of distraction.

Every room in the White House brought back a memory of a time when she had felt fortunate to be there. These days, she usually found herself standing in these rooms, asking—sometimes begging—the walls to talk to her. Sometimes the history that she and Charlotte were making struck her as embarrassingly overdue—many other countries had been ruled by women. And at other time, it was exhilarating to think that a new generation of women would grow up knowing that the glass ceiling had been shattered once and for all. But the vast majority of the time, Melanie’s life was exhausting, her assignments unseemly, and the rewards nonexistent.

She read the intelligence reports from the overnight, a memo from the national security advisor about troop reductions that would go to the president that morning, and the jobs report number that would be kept secret until eight-thirty A.M. She finished the front sections of the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Washington’s first official tabloid, the Washington Journal.

When she noticed that the sun had come up and brightened her office with an orange glow, she glanced up at one of her five televisions. She unmuted one of the stations just as it was teasing its lead story: “Coming up at seven A.M.: Is President Kramer AWOL on the economy? We’ll have some surprising reactions from our viewers to that very question.”

“The president is on her way to the Oval,” Annie said, appearing in Melanie’s door. “You should probably walk over. She’ll want to see you about the speech, I’m sure.”

“I’ll head over in a couple minutes,” Melanie said.

Melanie had been given a desktop device that told her where the president was at all times. “Wayfarer” was the president’s Secret Service code name, and whenever the president moved anywhere—other than the bathroom—an automated voice would announce her whereabouts: “Wayfarer departing residence. Wayfarer arriving Oval Office. Wayfarer departing Oval Office. Wayfarer arriving Cabinet Room.” The voice had driven Melanie crazy, so she’d moved the box to Annie’s desk, and it fell to Annie to inform her of the president’s movements.

Annie reappeared one minute later. “Sam just called. The president wants to see you,” she said. Samantha Cohen was the president’s assistant.

“Tell her I’m coming,” Melanie said. She stood up and walked the twenty-five feet to the Oval Office, stopping briefly at Sam’s desk.

“Morning, Samantha. Is anyone else in there?” Melanie asked, even though she knew no one would be.

“Nope, she’s waiting for you,” Sam said.

Melanie walked into the Oval Office and stood a few feet away from the president’s desk.

“Good morning, Madam President,” Melanie said.

“Good morning, Melanie,” the president said.

“How are we doing today?” Melanie asked.

“Crappy. Did you see the jobs number?” the president asked.

“Yes. One hundred thousand is better than they predicted. The markets might hold up,” Melanie said.

“I don’t think so. We’re going to get killed today. The story writes itself: ‘President Proves She Is Tone-deaf on Economy.’ I don’t know why I’m giving this speech in Detroit. Why couldn’t we go to Silicon Valley or New York or somewhere with an economy that isn’t in the toilet?” the president asked as she took her black Sharpie to the speech text and started slashing huge sections—a tactic she employed to show her displeasure and make staffers nervous.

Melanie’s head started to throb.

“Sam, get the boys from speechwriting down here,” Charlotte ordered. “This speech was either written by an idiot or someone got drunk last night and wrote it as a joke. The press will kill me if I say the economy has turned a corner. Tell that to the unemployed mother of four. Who writes this garbage, Melanie?”

Melanie sighed. She had told Ralph Giacamo, the White House political director and Melanie’s nemesis, that the president wouldn’t like the spin. He’d launched into a tirade about how he was in charge of getting her reelected and needed to have his voice heard on message matters. Melanie didn’t have the energy to fight with him, so his language remained in the draft that went to the president.

“Earth to Melanie? Did you even look at this?” the president snapped, tapping her perfect bone-colored high heel—a Manolo Blahnik, for sure—on the floor under her desk. The president always dressed in the same color from head to toe. Today she was in a crème skirt and matching belted jacket. She wore a silk camisole underneath and a single strand of tiny pearls. Her thick blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and she didn’t have any makeup on yet. Her hair and makeup team came in at seven forty-five. From a distance, she could easily pass for someone fifteen years younger than her forty-seven years.

“Of course I did, Madam President, and I’m sorry it isn’t to your liking, Madam President. We’ll write you a new speech, my lady,” Melanie said, bowing her head down toward the president in an exaggerated act of deference. She stayed in that position until the president spoke.

“Oh, shut up, and stop with the bowing,” the president said, stifling a smile. She rose from her desk and walked over to one of the sofas. A fire burned in her fireplace. “This fire is a little much, don’t you think?” she said.

“It’s a little more robust than the one they lit in my fireplace,” Melanie said.

“Looks like a goddamn bonfire,” the president said, gesturing toward the sofa across from her for Melanie to sit.

Melanie laughed and sat down, relieved that Charlotte’s dark mood had passed. The president needed to be “on” for the trip to Detroit. Half a dozen small-business owners and a handful of members of Congress were flying on Air Force One with her for the speech, and if Charlotte were brooding the whole time, the trip would be a waste.

“Sam—will you please bring Melanie’s present in here?” Charlotte yelled. “And two cups of coffee with cream.” She turned to Melanie and broke into a full smile for the first time that morning. “Happy birthday, smart-ass,” Charlotte said.

“Oh, God, no presents, please. I’m trying to go to a happy place in my mind—a place where I’m not thirty-seven years old, single, childless, and working steps away from the office where I sat when I was twenty-three years old,” Melanie said, sinking into the couch and looking up at the ceiling.

“Oh, your life is so awful. You’re just the White House chief of staff, that’s all. What an underachiever you are. Open your present,” Charlotte said, smirking and pushing the gift toward Melanie. She let the speech scatter on the carpet beneath them.

Melanie picked up the carefully wrapped box. As she slowly untied the bow and removed the tape from the wrapping paper, Charlotte grew impatient.

“Hurry up, the speechwriters will be here soon,” the president said, grabbing the box from Melanie and removing the wrapping paper herself.

Melanie stared at the black Bulgari box and said softly, “Charlotte, what did you do?”

“You’ve been so depressed lately, I thought you needed to be cheered up,” Charlotte said. “Open it, already. This Hallmark moment has gone on too long.”

Melanie stood up to give her a hug.

“Open it first,” Charlotte squawked, pushing Melanie aside. “I have to go to Detroit in this damned blizzard to console the inconsolable about the crappy economy in a few minutes.”

Inside was a thin white-gold chain dotted with diamonds—the most tasteful and beautiful thing Melanie had ever seen and, by a factor of one million, the most elegant piece of jewelry she owned.

“Thank you so much. I love it,” Melanie said, sliding it over her head and admiring the way the long chain sparked against her black silk blouse.

She knew she was lucky to work for Charlotte, and it almost hadn’t happened. She had been planning to move back to Colorado with Charlotte’s predecessor, President Martin, to head up his presidential library. But then she’d agreed to meet with Charlotte two weeks after she’d won the election.

When she’d walked into the room for their first meeting, she’d been struck by how small Charlotte was. She was a natural blonde, but her hair looked like straw. It was her one feature that actually looked better on television than in person. The toll of the long, nasty campaign was apparent on Charlotte’s face. Her blue eyes looked gray, and the lines around her mouth that usually disappeared behind her campaign smile were deep. She was so thin that the black slacks and jacket she wore looked as if they belonged to someone else several sizes larger. She wore low heels that almost passed as sensible, but when she crossed her legs, Melanie noticed the red soles that gave away both the price tag and Charlotte’s commitment to fashion.

Melanie hadn’t wanted to like her enough to be tempted to say yes. She really hadn’t wanted to like her at all. There was a cushy job waiting for her in Colorado with “nine to five” and “private jet” written all over it if she agreed to take President Martin up on his offer. There was nothing tying her to D.C. She could have easily flipped her condo to someone in the new administration—even in a down economy, people would be looking for places to live close to the White House. But something had nagged at her. She felt a sense of obligation at least to go through the motions and meet with the president-elect during the transition.

Melanie had been told that President-elect Kramer had made a special trip to Washington to meet with her.

“Please call me Charlotte,” she’d said. “It took me two years to get used to ‘governor,’ and now all this ‘president-elect,’ and then ‘Madam President,’ who can keep track of it? Call me Charlotte—I insist,” she’d said.

She was smart and funny and self-deprecating. She’d seemed to have been handed a briefing paper so detailed about Melanie’s career that Melanie wondered if the FBI had been involved. After some small talk about the current unusually cold temperatures for Washington, Charlotte had told Melanie that she’d seen her on the Today show years earlier and that she had admired and tried to emulate her cheerful toughness in her own television appearances. She’d praised Melanie’s decision to have the president do weekly press conferences in media markets around the country instead of from the White House. She’d said she agreed with the outgoing president’s decision not to campaign on her behalf because of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which she must have known had been Melanie’s advice to the president.

Melanie’s defenses had been down. She was feeling more and more flattered by the minute. And the idea of being the highest-ranking staff person for the first female president in America’s history did capture her imagination. Despite the fact that in the recesses of her mind, she understood that it was all part of an elaborate scheme to entice her, she’d said yes on the spot to serving as chief of staff to the nation’s forty-fifth president.

That was three years ago. Melanie fingered the smooth gold chain around her neck and stared at the reflection that the diamonds made on the wall of the Oval Office.

“If you’re still in there, Melanie, you’re welcome,” the president said, waving her hand in front of Melanie’s face. “I’ll see you tonight. We need to talk about the campaign. I’m sorry I’m missing your party, but at least I’m taking Ralph off your hands.”

“Party? What party?” Melanie groaned.

“I told them you’d hate it, but as usual, nobody listened to me. Act surprised. Sam and Annie have been working on it for weeks.” The president turned back to her desk. “Sam, please tell the speechwriters to get on the helicopter. We have to write a new speech.”

Melanie turned to leave and smiled sympathetically at the speechwriters who were huddled in front of Samantha’s desk.

“Good luck, guys,” Melanie said. “I’ll throw Ralph under the bus later. She’s just being melodramatic. Roll with it.”

Melanie endured the senior staff singing “Happy Birthday” to her at their seven-thirty meeting. She took calls from most of the Cabinet members, wishing her a happy birthday and from many of the reporters she’d known from her eight years as press secretary for the previous president. Her parents sent a dozen white roses mixed with white tulips, her favorite flowers. But nothing could have prepared her for her own reaction to the slide show that the White House staff assembled to pay tribute to her fifteen years of service.

Thank God the lights were dimmed and the music blaring. Against a soundtrack of depressing spinster ballads from Natalie Merchant and Tori Amos, the images flooded the room. There she was at twenty-three—in the group photo of all the White House interns—smiling and oblivious to the three chins she’d had in those days. President Phil Harlow was the first president Melanie had worked for. She’d lied about being a student to get the internship, since the White House intern program was only available to college students earning credit for their free labor. When a spot opened up for a junior press aide, she’d confessed about graduating the year before, and they’d given her the job. She spent nearly three years in the same cramped fourth-floor office in the Old Executive Office Building, across the driveway from the West Wing.

The next images were from her days as a campaign aide to President Harlow’s nephew, Christopher Martin. He’d surprised everyone when he announced a run for the presidential nomination during President Harlow’s last year in office. Melanie had signed on as his campaign press secretary. Everyone was shocked when he won the nomination and, eventually, the presidency. President Martin made Melanie his first press secretary, and at twenty-six, she’d been the youngest White House press secretary in history. The pictures of Melanie as President Martin’s press secretary made her cringe. Fortunately, her clothes, hair, and figure improved with age. There were pictures of her sleeping with her mouth wide open on Air Force One, plenty of shots of her fielding questions from the podium in the White House briefing room, and images she recognized as having been Photoshopped to remove all evidence of Matthew, her husband for a brief period during the Martin administration.

Photos of Melanie as Charlotte’s chief of staff made up the last and longest part of the slide show. She’d been around the photographers so long that she didn’t notice them anymore, but there she was: speaking to Charlotte as they walked across the South Lawn to board Marine One, being summoned by Charlotte as she stepped off Air Force One, whispering in her ear in meetings with foreign leaders, hiking with her at Camp David with the dogs, and laughing with her in the Oval Office over one of their many inside jokes.

Melanie stood and applauded when the slide show finally came to an end.

“Thank you so much. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve this president alongside all of you. Thank you for this great surprise. I don’t know what to say, other than thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

She stayed and thanked everyone for coming and asked the stewards to bring the leftover cake to the residence. She and Charlotte would eat it for dessert.

Fifteen years, three presidents, and seven executive assistants later, Melanie thought to herself as she walked back to her office. “And all I’ve done is move forty feet.”

Around eight P.M., Melanie heard the sound of Marine One as it neared the South Lawn. She loaded her BlackBerrys and phones into her purse and walked down the hall toward the residence where she and Charlotte would have dinner. Charlotte had been bugging her for an answer about running her reelection campaign for weeks.

As the chopper came closer, her mind flashed back to her first ride on Marine One. It fell on her twenty-sixth birthday, and she had been nervous and excited about joining the elite group of top staffers who rode on the presidential helicopter instead of driving the short distance to Andrews Air Force Base. They’d been traveling to Detroit that day to talk about the economy, and President Martin’s poll numbers were almost as battered as Charlotte’s. More than a decade later, Melanie still remembered how her stomach had churned and the sweat from her underarms had soaked her blouse that day. She had heard the sound of the helicopter as it neared the South Lawn, and she’d raced down the hall to the Oval Office. President Martin had looked at her, clearly enjoying her anticipation.

“You ready?” he’d asked.

“I’m ready,” she’d said with a grin.

He’d flung his arm around her and walked out to the South Lawn, where the helicopter was parked. He’d waved to the cameras and the crowds and mouthed “Thank you” to the friends and staffers who had gathered to see him off. Melanie had walked on her toes to keep her heels from getting stuck in the muddy grass, but it wasn’t enough. She lost one of her Stuart Weitzman pumps in the mud and was too afraid to stop and pick it up with the cameras rolling. She’d boarded Marine One and taken a seat across from the president.

“You sit here—you won’t bump into me the way these thugs would,” President Martin had ordered, referring to the male staffers who would bump into his knees if they sat in the seat across from him.

“Yes, sir,” Melanie had agreed as she sat across from the president and peered out the window of the helicopter. Melanie had no idea what to do about her shoe. She hoped that no one would notice. She’d send someone to buy her a new pair in Detroit. Ernie Upshaw, President Martin’s deputy chief of staff, noticed her bare muddy foot first.

“Where is your shoe, Melanie?” he’d asked.

“Uh, it fell off.”

“Where?” the president had asked.

“Somewhere between the Oval Office and the helicopter,” she’d admitted, her cheeks and neck turning hot.

The president had howled with laughter and sent Buckey, his personal aide, out to find her missing shoe. The shoe was wedged so deep in the mud that it took Buckey about five minutes to find it. The helicopter pilots had eventually powered down Marine One, and all three of the cable news networks had carried the shoe hunt live.

Melanie’s BlackBerry had filled with new messages.

Her assistant: “They aren’t looking for your shoe, are they?”

Her mother: “All the news stations are calling you Cinderella. Why didn’t you wear flats?”

The White House chief of staff: “Way to go—the president will be late, but you will have your shoes.”

He is such a jerk, Melanie had thought.

Buckey had finally returned to Marine One with Melanie’s muddy black pump in his hand. The president thought the whole episode was hilarious. As they lifted off from the South Lawn of the White House and flew over the Washington Mall, Melanie had felt as if she’d been transported to a different world. The Tidal Basin glistened in the morning sun, and the Washington Monument jutted out of the ground. The flags that surrounded it flapped in the wind below her window, and the tops of the buildings on the mall looked like doll houses.

“It’s pretty spectacular, isn’t it?” the president had said.

“Amazing,” Melanie had replied, not moving her eyes from the sights below.

“How could that have been eleven years ago?” Melanie thought, not realizing she’d muttered to herself until one of Charlotte’s agents spoke to her.

“Ms. Kingston, is everything all right?”

“I’m sorry; I’m fine. Losing it, perhaps, but fine. Is she upstairs yet?”

“Yes. She said to tell you to come on in.”

Melanie walked past the table that had been set for two with fancy china and flatware and out to the Truman balcony. Charlotte had installed heaters so they could sit out there year-round. Melanie sat in her usual spot and pulled a blanket over her lap. She took in the view and tried to work herself into a positive frame of mind for Charlotte’s benefit. The Washington Monument was directly in front of her, lit to perfection by carefully placed spotlights and brightened by the full moon reflecting off a blanket of fresh snow. The Lincoln Memorial could be seen off to her right, and if she leaned forward, she could make out the top of the Capitol to her left.

One of the president’s dogs put her two front paws in Melanie’s lap and started kissing her face. She leaned back and let the dog lick her.

Melanie had never planned to spend her entire adult life working for the president. When people gazed at the wall of presidential commissions that hung in her West Wing office, she used to feel proud. Now, they embarrassed her.

With the thirty-five-pound dog now sitting in her lap, Melanie practiced what she would say to Charlotte that night: “Charlotte, I can’t run your reelection campaign, because you can’t run for reelection.”

© 2010 Nicolle Wallace

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 109 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 109 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 19, 2010

    Great characters!

    "Eighteen Acres" is the story of three women: Charlotte Kramer, the 45th President of the United States, her White House Chief of Staff, Melanie Kingston, and TV network White House Correspondent, Dale Smith. All are powerful, smart and savvy. They are living on the edge of an explosive world. One mistake or scandal will bring chaos to them personally as well as to citizens globally. Rumors of infidelity within the White House threaten to expose questionable weaknesses in the President's judgment. Mishandling of the situation when an attack on the President's helicopter causes further concerns about her judgment regarding the people she's put in powerful positions, people whose mistakes could cost the American people their security. As President Kramer struggles to ignite her re-election campaign, forces are in motion to keep this from happening. "Eighteen acres" is a term politicos use when speaking of the White House complex. As a former communications director for President Bush and a political media strategist and a campaign advisor for John McCain and Sarah Palin, author Nicolle Wallace certainly knows her way around those eighteen acres very well. She's given us an insider's view of what it's like on the other side of the security fences as we look into the private areas in the White House and at the presidential get-away, Camp David. Wallace's behind- the-scenes action also takes us into the back-stabbing manipulation that happens within the media and print news arena. While I expected more of a political thriller, I found the story compelling and an interesting read. Ms. Wallace writes characters that the reader can care about and become invested in. I did find the heavy focus on expensive designer name products a bit off putting coming from people in such high power positions. Am I nitpicking? Maybe. But such name dropping is both distracting and unnecessary in a book of this genre. I do recommend Eighteen Acres. It's a fun fast read, with a nice flow through story about what it would be like to have the first woman president. I expected a bit more conflict and complexity, but all in all, Ms. Wallace has written a great first novel. I'll look forward to what she does next!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 23, 2010

    Great read....even for men!

    Three women and the their lives within the most powerful 18 acres on earth! This is not something the mainstream media will promote as Wallace does not do enough conservative or liberal bashing to warrant their 15 seconds, however, as an avid reader, I could not put this book down, and I am a 50 plus year-old male. She tells a great story about life's triumphs and the sometime consequences that go along with power and money. Although Wallace allows us to experience pain and sorrow, she never really paints a character as evil or hateful, they all are flawed to some extent, and you end up cheering for each one to find their true happiness and as in real life, some do and some don't. In conclusion, I only wish I had two friends like Brooke and Mark!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2010


    Story plot ok but didn't have the depth of details to make one feel any real suspense or appreciation of the complexity of the president and her staff. Needs help from Aaron Sorkin.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2010

    Unfortunately Not What I Expected

    I was expecting John Grisham meets Bob Woodward; a masterful plot with a Washington insider twist. This is not it. It is, after all, Chick-Lit. Understand, I'm not denigrating Chick-Lit at all, I love the stuff. It's just that I was looking for something else from this book.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2012

    Could not put this book down - a must read for anyone interested

    Could not put this book down - a must read for anyone interested in a great political drama!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    Former G W Bush Communications Director Nicole Wallace takes into the 18 acre White House Complex of the 1st female President, Charlotte Kramer, her Chief of Staff, Melanie Kingston, and White House TV Correspondent, Dale Smith. All three are complex and powerful. Kramer is running for re-election. Her poll numbers are down. The economy is in the tank, her marriage is troubled. Whispered rumors, among the White House Press Corp, are someone in the First Family is having an affair. Dale Smith knows for a fact that someone is, but she struggling with her conscience as she rises to the top of broad cast news reporting. Melanie Kingston has worked in the eighteen acres for 16 years and is questioning her own decisions as well as her beloved friend, President Kramer. All three women will face their own demons and decisions they make will define them after an incident in Afghanistan threatens National Security and the 45th President herself. This is a fast read for those who like Politics and Women¿s Fiction. Told from the POV of each of the three women, Wallace spins a good tale. The women are strong and three dimensional. There is a suspense element that makes the reader turn the pages quickly and set the time aside to read EIGHTEEN ACRES in one setting!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2011

    A Light Read

    I enjoyed reading this. A light read. Entertainment for a lazy day.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2011

    Fun read

    I enjoyed reading this book because it was entertaining with a touch of politics. It's a great book for a lazy day at the beach or day off work. Women will like it more than men and I really enjoyed the character of Melanie.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2010

    Couldn't put it down

    This is one of the few eBooks I would buy at a price above $9.99 and it was well worth it. It started out a little slow as most character development was in the first chapter or two. But after that it really takes off and was hard to put down. I was disappointed when it came to an end, and I would love to read a sequel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 24, 2010

    Best book of the year

    I found it was one I did not want to lay down. Well written and Nicolle write on please!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2015

    A great read!

    I enjoyed the interaction of the women in this book. Not usually a daytime TV viewer or The View fan but I have been impressed with Wallace on this show. She is the calm sane one in the mist of all the craziness. Because of this, I bought all of her books and am looking forward to her next ones.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2015

    Wonderful characters that come alive. It is great to see a story

    Wonderful characters that come alive. It is great to see a story with women in such powerful government positions taking on problems and dealing with them in realistic ways. "Eighteen Acres" is the first book in this trilogy. If you enjoyed this book then read #2-"It's Classified" and #3 "Madame President".

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  • Posted May 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Very Entertaining!

    Heard about the book when Ms. Wallace was on MSNBC. Truly enjoyed the book and Ms. Wallace's ability to tell a great story. Liked it so much, has to read "It's Confidential".

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2012

    Weak story line and poorly written including the many grammatic

    Weak story line and poorly written including the many grammatical mistakes.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2012

    I'm disappointed

    I was looking forward to reading this book. I admire Nicolle Wallace for the interesting career in politics she has had. It just never got too exciting!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2011


    Story of politics~ 18 acres is the White House.....a good simple, love story as well; Nicole write well & gives you some insight into DC

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 9, 2011


    I am usually not a fan of fiction, but suggested this book for my book club based on reviews read on book club websites. I hope that the other members of my club agree that this is a very interesting book written by a White House "insider." The triangle of powerful women depoicted gives food for thought about the future of American politics.

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  • Posted August 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer



    I love Nicole Wallace's writing style and though I'm not usually one to like novels written in the political genre, this one was intriguing.

    It was refreshing to see inside the government realm through the eyes of a woman. A fantastic read.

    -Kitty Bullard / Great Minds Think Aloud Book Club

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2011

    Eighteen Ares

    This book is out standing. I would love to see a moive maked out of this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2010

    One of the worst books I have ever read!

    Don't waste your money on this book! Don't even bother reading it for free. The characters are shallow and and woefully underdeveloped. The plot is thin, the end is predictable, and the quality of writing is poor. The female characters in this book are an insult to real women everywhere. I wish I could get my money back!

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 109 Customer Reviews

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