First ladies of the Baptist church and sworn frenemies Rachel Jackson Adams and Jasmine Cox Larson Bush are stunned to learn they may have more in common than they thought—like who’s their daddy—in the scandalous new collaboration between national bestselling and award-winning authors ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray.
A heated American Baptist Coalition election. A murky murder cover-up. An outrageous reality TV show. What in heaven’s name kind of drama will holy rivals Rachel Jackson Adams and Jasmine Cox Larson Bush—prominent first ladies of the Baptist church—get themselves into next?
Since he first met Jasmine, Rachel’s father Simon Jackson has had a funny feeling about her. She eerily resembles his first teenage love. After doing some digging, Simon makes a shocking revelation—Jasmine may be his daughter. Rachel thinks the idea is absurd, but to pacify her ailing father, she sets out to debunk his theory.
When Jasmine discovers what’s going on, she heads to the Jackson Family Reunion in Smackover, Arkansas, in search of the truth. With her sidekick Mae Frances by her side, this big city girl isn’t ready for the country…or for the over-the-top family that she may have to claim as her own.
This reading group guide for A Blessing and a Curse includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
A Blessing & a Curse continues the collaboration between ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray, following the beloved First Ladies of the Baptist church and sworn frenemies Rachel Jackson Adams and Jasmine Cox Larson Bush.
After seeing Jasmine on her outrageous reality TV show, Rachel’s father, Simon Jackson, makes a shocking revelation—with her eerie resemblance to his first teenage love, Simon is almost convinced that Jasmine may be his daughter.
Throughout their storied past together, Rachel and Jasmine have been there for each other through trauma and tragedy, despite their outward hatred toward each other . . . in that way, their relationship has always been sisterly. Nevertheless, Rachel and Jasmine are furious with Simon’s theory, intent on seeking out anything they can to debunk it. Eventually, Rachel convinces Jasmine to come along to the Jackson Family Reunion in Smackover, Arkansas, in search of a DNA test and the truth.
Topics and Questions for Discussion
1. When Mae Francis “tricks” Jasmine into taking a real DNA test, instead of skewing the results in her favor as promised, Mae Francis claims she’s doing what is best for her. Do you think this is true? Is Mae Francis being a good friend in this moment? Why or why not?
2. If you’ve read Victoria Christopher Murray’s previous books about Jasmine, are you surprised by how stable Jasmine and Hosea’s relationship is? Would you have guessed that their marriage would be as strong as it is currently? Why or why not?
3. Think about the tragedy that Jasmine and Hosea have undergone since Jacquie’s disappearance previously in this series. How can tragedy create rifts in relationships? How can it make a bond stronger? Reflect on how it has seemingly affected Jasmine and Hosea’s marriage, especially considering their devotion to Jacquie’s Foundation.
4. Jasmine and Rachel seem like polar opposites, divided by North and South, differences in class, and upbringing. How do you think these ladies could learn from each other? What qualities do you think would most benefit the other?
5. Did you understand Jasmine’s resistance to getting to know her new family, or were you frustrated with her stubbornness? What would you have said to Jasmine if you had a chance to convince her to meet Simon, attend the Smackover family reunion, and accept Rachel as her sister?
6. Discuss the ending of A Blessing & a Curse. Where do you think Rachel and Jasmine’s relationship will go from here? How about Simon and Jasmine’s?
7. A Blessing & a Curse was written by both Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley. Did you notice any indication of the two authors? How do you think they collaborated in the melding of these two beloved characters?
8. Do you have a “frenemy” relationship like Rachel and Jasmine’s? Describe this relationship and how it may be similar or different from the one in the book.
9. Do you think Mae Francis is as connected as she says she is? To Bubba, she’s an intriguing woman of mystery—what other secrets do you think she has up her sleeve? Come up with a whole backstory for her and how she may have met this slew of celebrities and public figures!
10. Why do you think ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray decided to bring their respective beloved characters together for this series? Who do you relate to more? Can you find qualities you respect in the woman you relate to less?
11. Discuss the role of faith, God, and prayer in this novel—how does it help Jasmine and Rachel respectively in their journeys?
12. Put yourself in Jasmine and Rachel’s shoes—if you found out that you had a new member of your family who you didn’t previously know about, how would you react?
13. Jasmine’s loved ones try to convince her that the father who raised her will still be her daddy, even if Simon is her biological father. How much do you agree with this statement? Are genes the only things that define a family? Why or why not?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Are you on Team Jasmine or Team Rachel? Make T-shirts showing your loyalty like the ones Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley made for Sinners & Saints!
2. Many characters in this book use prayer to help them through difficult times and hard decisions. Have a Bible on hand and give all participants the opportunity to share their favorite scripture passage, prayer, or personal motto. What kinds of help do you need throughout the day, especially when you have a difficult choice to make? Share with the group.
3. For more information on the novels of Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley, visit the authors’ respective websites, www.victoriachristophermurray.com and www.reshondatatebillingsley.com. If you’d like a chance to meet the authors, be sure to check the tour dates. Both tour extensively and could be reading and signing at a bookstore near you!
ReShonda Tate Billingsley’s #1 national bestselling novels include Let the Church Say Amen, I Know I’ve Been Changed, and Say Amen, Again, winner of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work. Her collaboration with Victoria Christopher Murray has produced four hit novels, Sinners & Saints, Friends & Foes, A Blessing and a Curse, and Fortune & Fame. BET released a movie in 2013 based on ReShonda’s book Let the Church Say Amen in which she had a minor role . She also had a role in the made-for-TV movie The Secret She Kept based on her book of the same title. Visit ReShondaTateBillingsley.com, meet the author on Facebook at ReShondaTateBillingsley, or follow her on Twitter @Reshondat.
Victoria Christopher Murray is the author of more than twenty novels including: Greed; Envy;Lust;The Ex Files; Lady Jasmine; The Deal, the Dance, and the Devil; and Stand Your Ground, which was named a Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Winner of nine African American Literary Awards for Fiction and Author of the Year (Female), Murray is also a four-time NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Fiction. She splits her time between Los Angeles and Washington, DC. Visit her website at VictoriaChristopherMurray.com.
“Faith-based fiction doesn’t get better than Billingsley’s entertaining soaps, notable for their humor, wonderful characters, and challenging life situations that many readers, Christian or not, can identify with.”
– Publisher's Weekly
“Writing in an engaging and comfortable style, Murray creates believable women to whom readers will easily relate.”