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L.S. Stratton Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Not So Perfect Strangers (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon
Do What Godmother Says (2024)Description / Buy at Amazon

L.S. Stratton is an NAACP Image Award-nominated American author of mystery. She is also a retired crime newspaper reporter. She has written over a dozen novels under different pseudonyms in just about any genre, from romance thrillers to historical fiction. She is married, and the couple live in Maryland with their daughter and their tuxedo cat.

Not So Perfect Strangers is L.S. Stratton’s standalone novel, first published in 2023. In this novel, Tasha Jenkins experiences the consequences of a seemingly kind act when she gives a ride to a stranger one night. Tasha, who has been enduring abuse from her husband, plans to leave him and start a new life with her son in the South, where she has family.

Having endured her husband’s controlling behavior, including confiscating her car keys, phone, and credit cards, Tasha is determined to break free from her oppressive situation. However, her plans are thwarted when her son disappears, leaving a note expressing his desire to stay with his father and girlfriend.

This unexpected turn of events leaves Tasha feeling devastated and betrayed as she grapples with the realization that her efforts to escape her abusive marriage have only resulted in further heartache. The story explores themes of resilience, betrayal, and the complex dynamics of abusive relationships.
Tasha faces a difficult decision when her son, Ghalen, chooses to stay with his father despite her plans to escape their abusive household. Despite Ghalen’s age, Tasha can’t bear to leave him behind. As she begins her journey back home, she encounters Madison Gingell, a woman fleeing from her abusive husband.

Moved by compassion and a desire to help, Tasha offers Madison a ride to safety, unaware of the consequences this act of kindness will bring. Little does Tasha realize her decision to assist Madison will unravel unforeseen challenges and lead her down a path fraught with danger and uncertainty, ultimately altering the course of her life in unexpected ways.

Upon learning about Tasha’s abusive husband, Madison sees an opportunity for mutual assistance and forms a tentative agreement with Tasha. However, Tasha’s response is not as clear-cut as Madison anticipates. Despite Madison’s assumption of an agreement, Tasha remains hesitant and does not commit to any arrangement.

Misinterpreting Tasha’s reluctance as a breach of their supposed deal, Madison takes matters into her own hands, expecting Tasha to reciprocate. However, Tasha is unwilling to comply with Madison’s expectations and wants no part in their arrangement.
As tensions escalate, Tasha realizes that Madison does not take setbacks lightly, and their interactions become increasingly fraught with conflict and uncertainty.

In contrast to Madison, Tasha’s role as a mother adds complexity to her character. Tasha’s strength and determination take center stage, with her son relying on her for protection. Despite facing adversity, she refuses to back down when it comes to safeguarding her child. This maternal instinct becomes a driving force throughout the narrative.

What makes Not So Perfect Strangers intriguing is its ability to defy expectations. L. S. Stratton skillfully constructs a storyline that keeps readers guessing. When we think we have the characters figured out, they surprise us with unexpected actions and decisions. It’s akin to a magic trick, where our attention is skillfully redirected, leaving us intrigued and eager to uncover the truth.

Throughout the novel, Stratton employs misdirection as a narrative tool. While we focus on specific aspects of the story, the real action unfolds elsewhere, revealing hidden depths to the characters and their motivations. This element of surprise adds depth and intrigue to the plot, keeping readers engaged until the end.

Stratton prompts us to think about how people like Tasha, who is Black and not wealthy, are treated differently by the police compared to someone like Madison, a wealthy white woman. Despite Tasha’s less privileged status and unusual story, she’s seen as unstable, while Madison, despite her lack of morals, is treated with respect due to her appearance and wealth. This contrast highlights societal biases and the disparities in how people are perceived and treated based on factors like race and economic status.

The narrative structure, with chapters alternating between the present and the past, initially leads us to believe we understand what happened on the night a house burned down, leaving one survivor and one victim. However, Stratton skillfully subverts our expectations, revealing unexpected twists that challenge our assumptions. This element adds suspense and intrigue to the story, keeping readers engaged and guessing until the end.

Overall, Not So Perfect Strangers delves into essential themes such as marriage, prejudice, abuse, and parenting. Through its gripping plot and thought-provoking themes, the novel offers readers much to contemplate about societal issues and human behavior. It’s a captivating read that encourages reflection on complex issues that affect individuals and communities alike.

Do What Godmother Says is L.S. Stratton’s second novel, published in 2024. This tale unfolds through two perspectives and timelines. Initially, we delve into the life of Essie, an African American painter during the 1920s Harlem Renaissance. Her art captivates Maude Bachmann, a wealthy white woman known as the Godmother for her patronage of artists. Maude offers support to artists but claims ownership of their work, harboring undisclosed secrets.

In the present day, we meet Shanice, a struggling writer in Washington, D.C., grappling with internal conflicts after a recent breakup. While helping her grandmother pack, Shanice receives a mysterious family heirloom, a painting with an unsettling aura. Intrigued, Shanice begins to uncover its origins, unearthing hidden family truths with perilous and lucrative implications.

In Not So Perfect Strangers, L.S. Stratton intricately integrates the vibrant tapestry of the Harlem Renaissance era, influenced by luminaries such as Charlotte Osgood Mason and Zora Neale Hurston. The narrative contemplates the significance of intuition and self-reliance, warning against relinquishing one’s creative prowess to dubious influences. As the story unfolds, it invites readers to grapple with unresolved queries, fostering a deeper exploration of personal agency and artistic freedom. By championing self-trust and independence, the novel serves as a compelling reminder of the enduring relevance of historical insight and the enduring power of individual expression.

Book Series In Order » Authors » L.S. Stratton

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