(E-ARC for review from Medallion Press)
Combining elements of mystery, history, and romance, this compelling narrative explores the river frontier of West Virginia to the Midwest in the 1900s. Unconventional for her time, Sarah Perkins is driven to excel and be successful in a man’s world despite her traumatic childhood under an abusive father who strictly enforced traditional gender roles. Dreaming of one day being a riverboat pilot, Sara embarks on an adventure aboard the Spirit of the River, a premier paddleboat on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. She’s spent hours behind the wheel under the supervision of the captain, Jeremy Smith—her friendly rival and romantic interest—and longs to prove her worth. When a traveling troupe of entertainers, Le Théatre d’Illusion, discovers that a cast member has suspiciously disappeared while a mysterious and deadly illness afflicts the rest of the passengers, Sarah will find herself tested in unimaginable ways. Suspenseful and thrilling, this dynamic novel of hidden secrets offers an unflinching look at serious issues such as alcoholism, suicide, and gender, while maintaining a lively storyline full of adventure, independence, and life on the river wild.
I've always been fascinated by the water. Whether it was a river, a lake, or the ocean. It's amazing to watch those television shows where you see the Captain of the vessel struggling with mother nature and the elements. It's not hard to see who is really in control. This book really hit the spot for me as far as adventure and thrills. It delved into some serious issues, but used the river wild as a background. The river was almost a character in the book.
Kathy Steffen has done a wonderful job of creating a character in Sarah Perkins, who is strong enough to balk at convention. Sarah is a woman in a man's world as a pilot of riverboat. She not only goes against the traditional gender roles of society, but she also goes against what her family believes is appropriate for a woman during that time period. I liked the fact that she marched to the beat of her own drum and followed her heart and her dreams. Her romantic relationship with Jeremy was also fun and filled with a lot of moments where the reader could feel the tension between them. I like those kind LOL...
This was a great addition to the Spirit of the River series. I look forward to seeing what comes next.
Theater of Illusion as well as the other books in the Spirit of the River series are available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I am giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Kathy Steffen's debut novel, First There is a River received several awards including first place in the CRW Award of Excellence. First, There is a River was also a finalist in the PMA Benjamin Franklin Award for Best New Voice, the HOLT Medallion Award for Best First Book and won an honorable mention in the Hollywood Book Festival. Her second book,Jasper Mountain , won an honorable mention at the 2008 London Book Festival. Both of Steffen's historical fiction titles are published by Medallion Press, and her first published short story appeared in Quality Women's Fiction.
Kathy teaches writing at AllWriters Workplace and Workshops, the University of Wisconsin's Writer's Institute, Write by the Lake, and at the Rhinelander School of the Arts. She is a member of the Author's Guild, Novelists Inc., Mystery Writers of America, and Romance Writers of America.