BY KATHLEEN SHOOP
Publication Date: February 28, 2019
eBook & Paperback; 573 Pages
Series: The Donora Story Collection (Book 2)
Genre: Historical Fiction/Saga
Once upon a time in tiny, rural Myscowa, Lukasz Musial competes in feats of strength against his lifelong nemesis to win passage to America. He leaves behind grinding poverty and despair, to seek the clear blue skies, and better life he sees on a postcard. Settled in Donora’s Polish community, Lukasz secures a coveted job in the wire mill, and is matched to marry Donora’s very own Polish princess. Life is set on course. The American Dream is nearly his.
Mary Lancos is no princess. A tall, athletic girl who loves the water, she spends her days keeping house for families in town, digging coal out of a backyard seam and rowing her father across the Monongahela River for work. Mary is dependable, tenacious, and always ready to help when someone needs her. She dreams of a gas-heated home, a bedroom for each of her future children, and good meals on the table each night. To help make that happen Mary attends local dances, waiting for the few men who are taller than her to ask her to dance, hoping one of them is right for her.
An unexpected Christmas Eve visitor brings bad luck, and Lukasz’s world crumbles. Meanwhile, tension grows at the Lancos home when money is short and Mary’s dreams clash with her parents’ old world expectations. Just when Mary and Lukasz are at their lowest, they find themselves under an odd pink moonlit sky and Lukasz rescues Mary from a fall into frigid river water. The attraction between them is sudden and consuming, turning the pair onto an unexpected path. With mounting disapproval from Mary’s parents, and increased pressure on Lukasz, they must decide if love is enough to risk losing everything else that matters.
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Kathleen Shoop has bejeweled this book with her magnificent imagination and impeccable writing. The Strongman and the Mermaid by Kathleen Shoop is a romance that goes beyond looks and settles deep into the souls of readers. Every so often, a love story comes that your heart can’t let go. One of those love stories, for me, has been Mr. Darcy and Lizzy in Pride and Prejudice. Now Mary and Lukasz in The Strongman and the Mermaid will stay with me for a long time to come. –Ankita Shukla for Readers’ Favorite
The Strongman and the Mermaid by Kathleen Shoop is a gorgeous story, a gripping romance with a strong setting. The plot structure is unusual and it has beautiful twists. I love stories with great characters and a well-developed conflict and I always want to see characters evolve through the conflict. It is something that this author does impeccably well. The narrative is emotionally rich…The writing is cinematic, punctuated by exciting dialogue. The Strongman and the Mermaid will keep you awake through the night. –Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite
I was hooked from the very start…The Strong Man and the Mermaid is skillfully plotted and written in beautiful prose. The reader is pulled into a fairytale-like world with strong and memorable characters. The love adventure between Mary and Lukasz is one of the key elements that add to the entertaining potential of this narrative. Kathleen Shoop keeps it real and human, succeeding in creating an emotional connection between the reader and the characters.—Ruffina Oserio for Readers’ Favorite
1910- Donora, Pennsylvania is a town built on steel and the hard work of the immigrant workforce. Mines, mills, nails and clouds of smoke that obscure the sun mean prosperity and a chance at the American Dream. For the Lancos family, this means that everyone works in order to pay the mortgage and the taxes. Mary Lancos often suffers the brunt of the children's labor without complaint, rowing her father to work, doing chores at home and working for the Dunn's-one of the mill managers. Mary longs for a lemon-scented, soot free home like Mrs. Dunn keeps and a man that can provide that for her. However, when Mary's family finds a match for her, Mary would rather wait for love. In Myscowa, Poland Lucasz Musial knows a better life awaits him in America-if he could only win the one remaining ticket. When the stars align to bring him to Donora, he thanks the mermaid that's been haunting his dreams. Lucasz finds more luck as he proves himself a strong worker at the factory and his sponsor family finds him a match. Lucasz believes that his American dream is coming true, until it all comes crashing down on him. It's possible that the mermaid from his dreams is still out there waiting for him.
The Strongman and the Mermaid is a sweeping historical romance that ties together the immigrant experience, many traditions and a touch magic. From the beginning, when a cantankerous Patryk is found clutching the book that detailed the story of his ancestor's romance, I knew I would be hooked. From there, the story alternates between Mary and Lucasz' point of view. The poetic writing shone through as the bleak and sooty world of Donora was made beautiful through Lucasz and Mary's eyes. I loved reading about all of the different Polish and Czech traditions that families were able to bring and recreate in America. The work in the factory and mines as well of the conditions the workers kept up were realistic and a good reminder of how our country was built. The suspense in the story was kept up by wondering when Mary and Lucasz would ever figure out that they were meant for one another. Their romance is natural and sweet, gradually building with friendship over time. I can't wait to read more of their story in the next book.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.
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