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Columns

The Modern Domestic Woman: Female authors provide perfect literary getaways for spring break

'On Tenterhooks,' 'The Dime,' 'Better in the Morning' provide fictional vacations

Despite the snow, spring break is on its way no matter what the temperature [is] in the Midwest. Whether you’re basking in the sun on a beach somewhere, or hunkering down under a blanket for a “staycation,” if you’re dreaming of getting some serious reading time in, why not try out these female authors? Poised and full of depth, each read provides the tales of women just like you: complicated and flawed, yet strong to the core. Wanting nothing but respect and love.

• For a quick nibble of fiction, try “On Tenterhooks.” A debut novella written by a St. Charles resident – Elizabeth Rago – this work of Women’s Fiction introduces Lucy Mathers, a single, job-hopping woman in her 20s who has just abruptly quit her job for the third time in a year. Her parents died when she was a child, leaving her a healthy inheritance, but she’s already blown her first installment. Years from her second payout, Lucy is in a panic. Her best friend, Claire Culpepper, owns a pinup style hair salon on State Street in Chicago; she’s a smart businesswoman and single mother. Claire is also the nonjudgmental rock that Lucy has always needed in her life – a mother/best friend combo.

After Claire fixes Lucy by way of a new hair color, the duo’s coping strategy for life’s stressors, Lucy stumbles across a loose brick in her linen closet and discovers an old book hidden in the wall. Written on the pages is the world of a girl known only by the initials CW. Lucy picks up on her story as CW recounts the 1930s version of a walk-of-shame from her rich boyfriend’s house. Overwhelmed, embarrassed and drenched in sweat from the hot August heat, CW retreats to her friend’s dress shop to find solace.

Lucy shares the diary with Claire, and they both find not only do their lives strangely parallel the lives of the women in the book. Will they ever find out what happened to this young woman of the past?

A story of strength, drive and survival amid mental strongholds and domestic abuse, “On Tenterhooks” brings to life the message that all women wrestle with similar struggles, no matter what era in which they live.

“Engaging story of love and friendship, weaved through past and present. Great to read something about two things I love: the last century before technology took over and beautiful Chicago! The author clearly loves these things too and it comes through.” said Fern Ronay, author of “Better in the Morning” and AfterBuzz TV host.

• For a thrilling ride through the eyes of a strong female detective, try “The Dime.” Written by New York Times best-selling author Kathleen Kent, “The Dime” is the first in a suspenseful series that tells the story of detective Betty Rhyzyk. Relocated to Dallas, Texas, Betty is a bit out of her element as her surroundings differ greatly from her hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y. When a drug bust goes wrong, this contemporary crime novel sways seamlessly from gritty scenes to the complicated and deep character of this modern female detective. As Betty moves deeper and deeper into the stress of a twisted investigation, her professional and personal lives prove just as much uncertainty for this brave detective.

Kent captures your attention from the first page as this crime novel leaves you wanting more of detective Betty. Thankfully, this is a series.

“Terrific … Kent’s own ability to avoid predictable outcomes and keep the reader on edge bodes well for future installments in this series.” said Lloyd Sachs of the Chicago Tribune.

Find “The Dime” on amazon.com.

• For a lighthearted tale about love, try “Better in the Morning.” A delightful read that sweeps you away from page one, Fern Ronay provides a lovely yet realistic picture of a single woman in today’s world, right along with the natural ups and downs of life. Veronica Buccino is a New York City lawyer who hates her job and has her eyes set on marrying a particular gentleman, John DelMonico. But when he announces his move to London, a change that doesn’t include Veronica, she’s crushed that his life doesn’t include her in the picture.

Veronica’s dead grandparents begin visiting her in dreams, acting as sweet guides to help her during the recent crash in her life. The connect between Veronica and her grandparents is executed flawlessly.

Still looking to make a change in her career, Veronica heeds the advice of her grandparents and steps out of her professional comfort zone, taking on a news reporting class that leads her to cover a conspiracy trial. A chance meeting with an unlikely match, Veronica’s life seems to be on the up and up until she is thrown right back down again.

This determined protagonist fights for her happy ending, determined to discover – and live – a life she loves.

“Heartfelt and entertaining, with characters so vivid, you’ll forget they’re fictional. Readers will find themselves cheering for Veronica Buccino,” said Claire Ashby, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the novel, “When You Make it Home”

Find “Better in the Morning” on amazon.com.

Smitten with domestic life but not to the point of unhealthy obsession, “The Modern Domestic Woman” author and St. Charles resident, Elizabeth Rago, is a freelance writer. You can visit her blog at thecircularhome.com or connect with Rago on Facebook at facebook.com/TheModernDomesticWoman. Feedback can be sent to editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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