Monette Victor, the clear-eyed protagonist of Lynn Emery's Soulful Strut, acknowledges there's some truth to the saying that behind every woman in trouble is the man who put her there. But she also knows everyone makes choices. Newly freed after hard years behind bars for a crime she didn't commit, Monette is a media darling living in a halfway house and hosting a radio show. Unflinchingly honest with herself and others, Monette admits that she would never have been in a position to go to jail even wrongly if she hadn't been running with a bad crowd to begin with, but it's not that easy to believe in yourself after years of making mistakes, and for all her bravery, Monette is often a very insecure woman indeed. On her show, Monette teaches self-examination and the power of dreams, hoping to help other women who blame the men, the Man or their childhoods to take responsibility for their own lives and futures. Imperfect and entirely endearing, Monette is flummoxed by the attentions of a good man who falls in love with her just as she is. By the end, the reader is rooting for her to accept that love as a reward for learning the lessons she's been given. Barbara Samuel won a 2006 RITA award for her novel Lady Luck's Map of Vegas.

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