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  • Powerful, thought-provoking possibilities

    Coming into A Sisterhood of Secret Ambitions, I was thrilled to be given a chance to review this book. This book is my first encounter with the author, but I was sure to love it based on the intriguing synopsis - and I was proven correct! The story is from a first-person POV of Elsie Fawcett, as she describes the secret Society of women she is a member of. This Society categorizes women before they reach puberty on their future based on their specific skill-set. It is a very organized association with rules, purpose, and hierarchy. The group aims to influence men through the group's brand of "manipulation" and "involvement." It may sound sinister, but they do this to save and shape the future to a better one while also "rescuing" other women from troubled situations. They help other women "in need" through secret codes and drop-offs, etc. Elsie Fawcett is the main focus in the story and, together with her group of "ladies," is on a mission to pursue an important man that will later shape the country. Based on their training, any of these ladies would support and help their would-be husbands make significant changes in their country. These women are like the "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" but in the female version and with the women's brand of "extra powers" since females are superhumans and are in a category all on their own. They are silent heroes when they are needed, and voices needed to be heard. This book made me think hard and long with everything. It made me revisit scenes and clues that would have the ending be such. Readers like myself want/need/love books that are more than HEA. **Note: this is still considered a HEA ending but with a unique and satisfying twist. 1.) The Society and Limitations I love the concept of strong women, and the story was spot on with this point. There were many strong women with their skills used for good and a "higher purpose." Although the Society seems the perfect solution to the world, the story dives into the pros and cons of operating in secret, not being able to rise from the shadows of their male targets, partners, etc. Women who solely dedicate themselves to the Society's cause may seem harsh but reading their points of view made sense. The saying "behind a successful man is a strong woman" is a valid saying, with the formation of the Society. 2.) Soft Skills as calculative weapons It is important to note that the author highlights the many great women who had made huge impacts with their involvement behind the scenes. Whether it is to maintain a home, rear an heir, share opinions through "light conversations," or just beside their man stirring them to the "right people," - all of these impact these potentially important men. The world may be a patriarchal world with archaic thoughts, but a woman's guidance of kindness and compassion stirs it to a better and brighter future. 3.) Elsie and the gang I love the interaction of Elsie and the four other "chosen girls" (all but one are her best friends) in the story. Being the wisest and most observant one in the group, Elsie shares it with the readers to help empathize with their different predicaments. They also come from different female representations from a trans, aromantic, and plus-size heroine, to name a few, that ALL rocked the story! Each girl had ways of winning over "the target" while making sure not to succumb to her insecurities. It is also interesting to see that they are close friends, but they also compete against each other. They know each other well enough to use their weaknesses to further their agenda. Who will win in the end? **Each girl's "date location" was a great indicator of their respective personalities. It is pretty varied, from a fancy restaurant to a car garage! 4.) Choices and Accountability Elsie is NOT a perfect character. She is flawed and selfish in her own right. She is intelligent, educated, driven, and overqualified than to be a "wife." Note that there is nothing wrong with being a wife. It has been stated often in the book, but with Elsie knowing deep down, she can be "more." That revelation will be the deciding factor of her deciding ambition vs. feelings. Elsie often had to fight internally to "do the right thing," and there were moments of temptation winning out. She made many bad decisions throughout the book, even if it started with the noblest of intentions, but I was happy with what she decided to do to "turn things around." Her self-sacrificing intentions served a higher purpose, as readers will see in the end. 5.) Leader vs. Follower The ending might not be what a few readers may see coming, but in my case, I was delighted with how the ending was not the typical "happy ending" expected from Elsie. I firmly believed that Elsie wrote her story considering all her facets:- the good, the bad, and even the ugly. Elsie grew in the story that made her relatable - to anyone's hopes, dreams, and ambitions. She knew she needed to sacrifice now to see the future

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