Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Tomboy: A Jane Benjamin Novel Book Review

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to read and review historical fiction Copy Boy from author Shelley Blanton Stroud.  This week, I was given the chance to read Tomboy, the second book in her Jane Benjamin series.   Learn about historical thriller Tomboy and author Shelley Blanton-Stroud, read my thoughts on the book & enter the book tour giveaway at the end of this post. 

 I reviewed the paperback version of the book--but, it is also available in audiobook!  You can learn a little about narrator April Doty as well!

Book Title Tomboy: A Jane Benjamin Novel by Shelley Blanton-Stroud
Category:  Adult Fiction (18+), 308 pages
Genre Historical Thriller
Publisher She Writes Press
Release dates:   June 2022
Content Rating:
 PG-13 + M. The F word appears exactly once in the book. There is a completely non-explicit sex scene. There is a suicide.​

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About the Book

It’s 1939. Jane Benjamon’s got five days at sea to solve the murder of a Wimbledon champion’s coach and submit a gossip column that tells the truth. If not the facts.

On the brink of World War II, Jane wants to have it all. By day she hustles as a scruffy, tomboy cub reporter. By night she secretly struggles to raise her toddler sister, Elsie, and protect her from their mother.

But Jane’s got a plan: she’ll become the San Francisco Prospect’s first gossip columnist and make enough money to care for Elsie.

Jane finagles her way to the women’s championship at Wimbledon, starring her hometown’s tennis phenom and cover girl Tommie O’Rourke. Jane plans to write her first column there. But then she witnesses Edith “Coach” Carlson, Tommie’s closest companion, drop dead in the stands of apparent heart attack, and her plan is blown.

​Sailing home on the RMS Queen Mary, Jane veers between competing instincts: Should she write a social bombshell column, personally damaging her new friend Tommie’s persona and career? Or should she work to uncover the truth of Coach’s death and its connection to a larger conspiracy involving US participation in the coming war?

Putting away her menswear and donning first-class ballgowns, Jane discovers what upper-class status hides, protects, and destroys. Ultimately—like nations around the globe in 1939—she must choose what she’ll give up in order to do what’s right.

My Review


Tomboy can be read as a standalone novel. While it is the second book in the series, the author fills in the necessary pieces from Copy Boy that readers new to the series may have missed. Like always, readers benefit from reading a series in order as they can better understand characters and motivations--and much of Jane was created by Copy Boy's scenes. Having said that, Tomboy brings new characters and a complete storyline that can stand independently.


Tomboy Presents Historical Fiction with a Very Modern Edge. Readers are transported to 1939 with very historical themes and sentiments toward women's roles and social classes. Jane's strong female character gave the scenes a more modern feel as she sought to make her way in a male-dominated career and time in history. As in Copy Boy, I didn't love Jane as a person most of the time--but she was very effective in her role. Jane's decisions were often impulsive--and probably a little more male-like. It was hard not to like her character at least a bit because she was generally aiming to do the right thing in the big picture! 


Would I Recommend Tomboy by Shelley Blanton-Stroud? This book presents a historical mystery --but it is more of a moral drama as Jane seeks to come to terms with her present, past, and obligations to do the right things. If you enjoy strong female characters breaking roles and rules in historical settings--with mystery and drama keeping the story charged--this book and series should be on your reading list. While I don't love Jane--I love that she grew and developed into a stronger Jane throughout this novel. I would definitely follow her into another adventure and would recommend this book and the series.

Meet the Narrator

April Doty is a classically trained actress with a BFA from Syracuse University. She is a voice actor and the narrator of 26 books. Born in Virginia, educated in New York, seasoned in London and settled in Spain, April Doty brings the sound of a rich and varied life experience to her narration. The character of Jane came to life in her home studio on the Costa del Sol. 

connect with the narrator:  website ~ twitter ~ linkedIn soundcloud

Meet the Author

Shelley grew up in California’s Central Valley, the daughter of Dust Bowl immigrants who made good on their ambition to get out of the field. She recently retired from teaching writing at Sacramento State University and still consults with writers in the energy industry. She co-directs Stories on Stage Sacramento, where actors perform the stories of established and emerging authors, and serves on the advisory board of 916 Ink, an arts-based creative writing nonprofit for children, as well as on the board of the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies at Claremont McKenna College. Copy Boy is her first Jane Benjamin Novel. Tomboy is her second. The third, Working Girl, will come out in November 2023. Her writing has been a finalist in the Sarton Book Awards, IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards, Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion Award, the American Fiction Awards, and the National Indie Excellence Awards. She and her husband live in Sacramento with many photos of their out-of-town sons and their wonderful partners. 

Connect with the author:   website  ~  twitter  ~  facebook  ~ instagrambookbub goodreads

Enter the Giveaway

TOM BOY (a Jane Benjamin novel) Book Tour Giveaway

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