Wednesday, December 7, 2022

A School of Daughters by Kate Rene MacKenzie (Spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GFT



Kate René MacKenzie




GENRE:   Literary Women’s Fiction





It’s funny how things sneak up on you…


Kate Willoughby is a champion for throwaways—discarded dogs and cats, abandoned horses bound for slaughter, and all creatures great and small. But now it's Kate who's alone in a hostile world like a dog dumped by the side of a road. Is there a champion for Kate?


After 22 years of marriage, Kate loves her husband, Brian, with an even greater passion than when she spoke her vows. “My world spins on his axis,” she often says. But when Kate finds a love letter to Brian from Micky, she’s torn between proving Brian’s innocence and nailing him to the wall with his guilt.


Throughout her marriage, Kate has been trusting and trustworthy —to a fault, friends have said. Now, she steals into Brian’s emails and accesses his credit card accounts, phone records, bank statements, friends and activities, discovering the metaphoric iceberg beneath Brian’s affair.


Turning to the one constant in her life, Kate is guided by her family of animals: shelter dog Molly; Premarin horse Quinn; packrat Winston; owls Albert & Victoria; Stubby, the chipmunk; rattlesnake Cassandra; and Phineas, the determined grosbeak. These wise and wonderful teachers, along with a wild menagerie on her Arizona ranch, deliver lessons on life, love, and letting go. But it’s Molly, in a heartbreaking act of courage, who leads Kate back to her true self, before she became lost in love with Brian.


Shining a light on the childhood events and adult choices that, like steppingstones, brought her to this moment, Kate illuminates a familiar and well-worn path. Narrating her story with equal doses of heartache and humor, Kate comes to understand that nothing sneaks up on you that isn't already here. Learning from Phineas, the determined grosbeak, Kate realizes that even after a devastating injury, you can soar again.






I get through the rest of the day. I feed the horses, wash their faces, brush their coats, pick up poop, then walk Molly, fill the bird feeders, clean the litter box. In between, I hug an old teddy bear. Actually, it’s more than a hug. I cleave to my bear like a life preserver keeping me afloat against the waves of despair that threaten to drown me.


And…finally…I cry.


Sometimes I just stop what I’m doing, slump to the ground, and wail. It is the most awful, primitive sound and I can’t believe it’s pouring from me.


Molly comes to me, tail wagging, ears back, offering the comfort of her warm, soft tongue. I reassure her that it’s okay, that I’m okay, and I climb up from the ground and soldier on.


Then there are merciful respites where the pain still exists but I’m too drained to express it. But the best moments are when numbness takes over and I simply exist. It feels like the aftermath of a funeral, when the anguish of death has subsided and all that’s left are soft, graveside tears.


Brian and I have shared seven family funerals. Is Micky Brian’s attempt to postpone the inevitable? Does she make him feel young and new while I remind him of death?


We’ve also shared the birth of seven grandchildren. Does each new life add to his making him seem that much closer to the grave?


I want so much to understand why he is doing this. I want to forgive him. But what I want most is to pretend it all away.

Amazon buy link




AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Kate Rene’ MacKenzie is the women’s fiction alter ego of romance novelist and Golden Heart nominee Maggie McConnell (Spooning Daisy). Kate (and Maggie) spent her childhood overseas, the daughter of US diplomats. Attending college in Illinois, she volunteered at the local humane shelter, eventually becoming director. While earning a BA in Art and then an MBA, Kate worked at various jobs including go-go girl, bartender, and teaching assistant. At 26, she sold her 280Z and packed her dog and cat into a Ford truck and drove the Alcan Highway to Alaska where she spent 23 years exploring The Last Frontier in a single-engine Cessna. Her next adventure was in Arizona on a no-kill ranch at the end of the road. A vegan and animal rights advocate, Kate provides a sanctuary for all creatures great and small, but her immediate family includes horses Quinn and Hershey, and cat Noelle.




Kate Rene MacKenzie

Maggie McConnell




Amazon buy link for Maggie McConnell's Spooning Daisy   



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The tour dates can be found here


My review:

3.75 out of 5 stars

“A School of Daughters” by Kate Rene MacKenzie follows Kate Willoughby as she navigates the painful journey of discovery that results from a card addressed to her husband of twenty-two years. Navigating between the blind trust she’s always had in his love and support and the unpalatable realization that she needs to rediscover herself and her self-reliance, Kate relies on the unstinting love that she’s shown all those around her, including her rescued animals, to bring her through her darkest days.


This women’s fiction story is somewhat depressing to read, especially at this time of the year, but it is a compelling story that is leavened by the interludes of vivid description of the beauty of nature and the valuable lessons and gifts that come from interacting with various rescue animals. I am sorry to admit that I identify with many of the heroine’s feelings of betrayal and sadness, having watched my mom practice her own version of deliberate blindness to my father’s indiscretions, just as Kate has done. It is frustrating to watch the seesawing of Kate’s emotions and actions as she reveals episodes she’s suppressed or ignored, even though I can understand her reluctance to see the enormity of betrayal that has been perpetrated.


The author paints wonderful word-portraits of life in two very different states, contrasting the dangers of bears and moose in Alaska with the smaller life-threatening creatures such as snakes and scorpions in Arizona. Her artful descriptions of the various animals she interacts with brings them to life, and I will be thinking about Winston the packrat and Albert and Victoria for quite some time.


I think this is a story that should be approached with caution by those with triggers about infidelity, but one should be reassured and inspired by this woman’s journey and ultimate resilience. Part cautionary tale, part travelogue, and part inspirational tale in support of adopting strays, this story is well worth reading, even if you’re an incurable fan of happy ever afters like me.


A copy was provided for review


  1. Thank you for hosting Daughters and for your well-written and thought-provoking review.

  2. I enjoyed the excerpt and A School of Daughters sounds like an excellent book to read, thanks for sharing it with me!

    Thanks, Reading Addict, for sharing your review!

    Have a magical holiday season!

  3. Thank you for sharing your review of A School of Daughters, I like the cover art, synopsis and excerpt and I am looking forward to reading this story myself