Tomboy: A Jane Benjamin Novel by Shelley Blanton-Stroud

Copy Boy Review - HERE!

Synopsis - 

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.

Review - 

I really enjoyed the first book in the Jane Benjamin series, so couldn't wait to read the second. I love strong female characters that defy the conventions placed on them. And I always find it refreshing to see them portrayed as imperfect individuals, making mistakes. Add in a lush historical setting and the air of a mystery - murder or not - and intriguing story line, and you have a great read awaiting. 

Although it is a little implausible that a female cub reporter with no money, could switch places with a drunk male colleague and end up sailing to England, it surprisingly didn't take away from the story for me. We follow Jane's journey by rail across the US with not a dime in her pocket, then across the ocean and back. Along the way we flashback to the childhood that shaped her.  When she connects with tennis star Tommie O’Rourke - whose beloved coach died at Wimbledon -  on the way home, she is drawn upward from steerage into the world of the entitled rich. Along the way she begins to follow the clues to the mystery surrounding the coach's death. 

Tomboy has the same strengths for me that Copy Boy did.  Great characters that are well-developed,  their actions stay true to their characters, and strong world building.  I can see the places in my mind - smell the smells, feel the crush of people, hear the background noises.  Hopefully there will be a third offering in this series. 

Buy the Book: ​Capital Books ~ Amazon ~ B&N ~ ~ Audible ~ Libro ~ Kobo ~ Scribd ~ Chirp ~ Amazon (audiobook) ~ Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author - 
Sept. 2020 Author Interview - HERE!

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 ~ instagram ~ bookbub ~ goodreads


  1. Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I enjoyed both of her books in this series - Copy Boy and Tomboy.

  2. Replies
    1. It is, and I highly suggest your read both Copy Boy and Tomboy and in order.

  3. This is a new author for me, but the premise sounds really interesting!

    1. It is, and I highly suggest your read both Copy Boy and Tomboy and in order.


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