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by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

February 23, 2022

4 Books with Strong Female Main Characters

by Susan Roberts

I enjoy reading books with strong women main characters.  I have reviews today for 4 books with strong women - one historical fiction, one romance, and two that would be classified as women's fiction.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Coco at the Ritz by Gioia Diliberto 

Coco at the Ritz
December 2021; Pegasus Books; 978-1643138411
audio, ebook, print (304 pages); biographical fiction

"When the doorbell rang at eight-thirty on that hot languid morning,  Coco knew they'd come to arrest her." 
(p 1)

I  always pictured Coco Chanel as a sophisticated, elegant woman who made a name for herself with her dresses and perfume.  What I  found in this well-researched book was a Coco who was cold and arrogant, a woman who had no regard for most people - unless she needed them for something.  She didn't let anyone know about the poverty that she grew up in. When the Germans defeated France and moved into Paris, her main concern was for herself.  She started an affair with a German officer and continued to live her life of extravagance while not caring at all about the people who had nothing.

This novel starts in 1944, after the Germans have been defeated in France, when Coco was arrested by French Forces of the Interior—Resistance fighters, soldiers, and private citizens who took up arms in the wake of the Liberation of Paris—led Chanel from her suite at the Ritz Hotel in Paris to an undisclosed location for questioning.  They accused her of being a traitor by spying to help her German lover.  The book then goes back to 1941, when Coco is returning to her suite in the Ritz and found out that most of the rooms at the Ritz were being used by German officers.  We see the beginning of her affair that lasted the entire war.  And the main question at the end of the war was whether she was really a collaborator or was she using her German lover as much as he was using her?    He helped get her nephew out of a labor camp and in her mind, that was her main reason to help him - or was it really?  Was it her need for the high life and the extravagance of steak and champagne or her desire to help her nephew that kept her with her lover?

This was a well-written book about life in Paris during the war but even more, it was a book about a selfish woman who though unlikable but was also strong and brilliant. - a woman whose life was based on what other people thought about her more than the person she really was. 

Buy Coco at the Ritz at Amazon

The House on Crow Mountain by Rebecca Lee Smith 

The House on Crow Mountain
July 2021; Wild Rose Press; 978-1509235919
audio, ebook, print (310 pages); mystery

I enjoy reading books that take place in North Carolina.  This book not only featured NC but also the Blue Ridge mountains in the western part of the state.  It takes in a small town with lots of quirky characters.

Emory is a New York portrait artist who wants to believe that she's left NC in her past.  When her aunt has a stroke and asks Emory to return to NC to help her, she reluctantly agrees.  She wants to mend fences with the people that she left behind and to deal with the guilt from her husband's death.  Once she arrives, she finds that it isn't going to be easy to be accepted in town again - someone hates her and is sending threatening notes.  She finds that many of the people in town are hiding secrets - from the town's bad boy to the local evangelist.  Will she be able to find out the reason for the harassment and will it cause major family issues when she does? 

The book is classified as 'cozy mystery' but I'd call it romantic suspense.  The suspense in this novel will keep you turning pages until the end when you find out who is behind the notes and the terrible things that are plaguing Emory.

This author is a new author for me and I plan to read some of her books based on my enjoyment of this book.

Their New Year's Beginning by Michelle Major 

Their New Year's Beginning
December 2021; Harlequin; 978-1335408273
ebook, print (288 pages); romance

At the stroke of midnight, A stranger’s kiss changes everything…

With all of the hustle and bustle going on at the end of the year, it's always relaxing to read a happily ever romance.   

Brian Fortune is in Rambling Rose, Texas for the wedding of his twin brother Brady.  Brian is an advertising manager and lives in New York.  Even though he is able to work remotely, he knows that he needs to return to NYC soon after the wedding.  At midnight of New Year's Eve at the wedding reception, Brian kisses a woman that he's just met and after the kiss, she disappears.  He finds out who she is when he goes to the local antique store finds that  Emmaline is the owner.  Even though Brian has always had trouble committing to one woman, he feels an instant connection to Emmaline.  The kiss was a big surprise to both of them but when Brian finds out that she is 6 months pregnant, he has to decide whether he wants to go back to NYC or stay in Rambling Rose with Emmaline.  Will they get their HEA ending??

I always enjoy romance books by Michelle Major.  There's always a little mystery and a lot of romance.

This book is the first book in a new series by several different romance authors:

The Fortunes of Texas: The Wedding Gift

Book 1: Their New Year's Beginning by Michelle Major
Book 2: A Soldier's Dare by Jo McNally  (January 2022)
Book 3: Anyone But a Fortune by Judy Duarte  (February 2022)
Book 4:  Cinderella Next Door by Nancy Robards Thompson (March 2022)
Book 5: A Fortune in the Family by Kathy Douglass  (April 2022)
Book 6: Finding Fortune's Secret by Allison Leigh (May 2022)

The Passing Storm by Christine Nolfi

The Passing Storm
November 2021; Lake Union; 978-1542029124
audio, ebook, print (317 pages); women's fiction

This book is a beautifully written story about how grief affects people and how they deal with it.  There are several characters who are trying to live with different levels of grief.  They want to go on with life but are continually pulled back into the grief that affected them so much.  Here are the main characters:

Rae is dealing with grief from the loss of her mother and recently from the loss of her daughter.  She wants to blame someone for her daughter's death to make herself feel better but instead she is cutting herself off from her friends.  It will take her inner strength to change her life.

Conner, Rae's father is still dealing with the loss of his wife.  Their farm has fallen into disrepair and he isn't able to take care of it until Quinn starts to help him.

Quinn, an 18-year-old boy who has been kicked out of the house by his alcoholic and abusive parents.  He was friends with Rae's daughter and knows what happened to end her life.  Rae wants to blame him for her daughter's death but then feels sorry for him when his parents kick him out so she invites him into her home and family.

Will the three of them be able to move forward by sharing their feelings about the death of Lark?  Will they be able to forgive each other but most of all themselves and begin their lives again?

This is an emotional look at dealing with loss.  It's about dealing with grief, love, family and friendship, and reconciliation.  It's my first book by this author and I plan to read some of her earlier books.

Buy The Passing Storm at Amazon
(Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read the ebook for FREE)

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

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