Dancing in the Ring is a love story like no other. After finishing it, I had to take a walk and several deep breaths. Three days later, I’m still living with the characters. Dancing in the Ring has deeply touched my heart and is one of the best novels I’ve read in a long time.

Susan E. Sage has captured a powerful love between two people living through the 1920s, the Great Depression, and leading up to the WWII years. She has hit upon the universal theme of pursuing dreams, and the ways that those dreams are fulfilled, or left unfulfilled, and sometimes crushed. Sometimes they are left hanging in the wind as a person passes from one life to the next.

Catherine McIntosh sits in a law school classroom while Robert Sage sits in a tree outside the classroom window trying to get her attention. Although this is his first antic of trying to win her love, it’s not the last. A boxer, as well as a law student, the Battling Barrister is as clever and vivacious outside the ring as he is in it. Catherine, one of the first female attorneys in Detroit, is not to be swayed from her career goals. Bob stops at nothing to engage her in the ring.

And she is a willing and worthy opponent. Although on the ropes at times, they match each other in skill, wit, and determination. Together, they celebrate the Roaring Twenties in Speakeasies and Dance Halls. They fight for justice and serve the poor. When the nation takes a tragic turn into the Great Depression, they hold strong even as their own lives take several hits and the ropes fray.

Sage conveys exactly the right tone for this novel and the good-hearted values of another time. Her writing is beautiful and surprising, carrying both the glory and the heartbreak of this story from start to finish. Her unforgettable characters will keep you rooting for them through to the very end. If you read no other book this year, do yourself a favor, and read this one. You’ll be glad you did.

author's photo of Susan Sage's book, Dancing in the Ring

Dancing in the Ring

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