The Swindler’s Daugher
May 2nd, 2023
The Swindler’s Daughter by Stephenia McGee is a compelling mystery mixed within a historical novel. Both the male hero and female heroine are put in dangerous situations with a villain that is multifaceted.
Set in 1912 Georgia, the main character Lillian Doyle always believed that her father was dead and her mother his widow. That is until she receives notice that her father has just recently died and left her as the sole heir to his home and half his business. Deciding to travel to a small town in Georgia to settle her father’s estate and accept the inheritance she gets more than she bargained for including a family she has never met and an inheritance that brings dangerous problems. The longer Lillian stays in her father’s small town, the more intrigue, and mysterious events she encounters.
After arriving in the small city of Dawsonville. Georgia, she finds a family already in possession of her father’s house, and some shady aspects about her father’s business including the business partner who wants not only the whole business for himself, but also the house. Having to navigate who is good and who is bad she discovers charming, loving people, and a cousin and an aunt she never knew. After meeting the current occupants of the house who suggest she becomes a business partner with them she contemplates about achieving her dream of independence. Realizing a decision needs to be made she makes the choice of becoming business partners with the family that includes Jonah, his mom Melanie, and his sisters. While trying to find the truth behind her father’s business dealings she also must deal with her superficial mother who tried to manipulate Lillian to get control over the inheritance.
Readers will be on the edge of their seats because of the cache of family secrets. The story also includes a sweet romance, historical details, mystery, and adventure.
Elise Cooper: The idea for the story?
Stephenia McGee: I had gone to a Colorado museum where there was a whole section with bottles from the prohibition era. I thought this is neat and found out how things were hidden in the walls. The story idea sparked from hidden items.
EC: How would you describe Lillian?
SM: She is quietly feisty but is usually stoic and reserved. She is outwardly tough, inwardly soft, vulnerable, thoughtful, and determined.
EC: How would you describe Jonah?
SM: Hard-working, determined, very responsible, and has the weight on his shoulders because he does not want to let those who depend on him down. He is also protective and loyal.
EC: What about the relationship between Jonah and Lillian?
SM: It starts off where they do not care for each other. In the beginning it is a battle of their wits. Eventually, they develop a mutual respect where they balance each other out. He causes some cracks in her armor and she lets him see that not everything is as he thinks it is supposed to be.
EC: What was the role of each of their mothers?
SM: Each had strong personalities. His mom, Melanie, wants the best for everybody, and wants everyone to accomplish their dream, having the best at heart. She guides Lillian to make her dreams come true. Lillian’s mother wants the best for herself, all about status, what society thinks of her, and wants to build a life of comfort. Basically, she is a snob, uncaring, and selfish.
EC: Can you explain the book quote, “Life is full of unknowns?”
SM: The theme of the book is what should people do when life does not turn out at all what they expect. For Lillian, nothing is as is seems. The idea is that life throws curve balls, and how do people navigate those obstacles with hope and a sense of self.
EC: Why a bakery and the bookstore?
SM: For Melanie the bakery was her stress reliever. It is something she always wanted to do. Lillian, when she sees Melanie determined to have her own business, also wants to create her favorite place for others, the bookstore. It was quiet, cozy, and allowed her to get lost in the stories. She wanted to provide that same sort of place for others. Both Melanie and Lillian realized that they could work together. The project also brought Jonah’s sister Rose out of her melancholy ways. She was able to accomplish her hobby of sewing cushions.
EC: What about the Watson family?
SM: Whether Jonah’s family or Lillian’s father extended family, they had a huge impact on Lillian’s character growth. Lillian sees what is like to have a warm and caring family. Since it was only her and her uncaring mom, she learned to love and be supported through the other families.
EC: Next books?
SM: I am working on a new series about Mississippi romances. Book 1 is called The River Queen about a 1923 showboat. This one has river pirates, gangsters, more hidden secrets, and a deep mystery. It comes out in October. I will more than likely write a book for Revell the following October. I am thinking that once a year I will self-publish, and the next year will be a Revell book.