A young woman without prospects at a ball in Gilded Age Newport, Rhode Island, is a target for a certain kind of “suitor.” At the Memorial Day Ball during the Panic of 1893, impoverished but feisty Penelope Stanton quickly draws the unwanted advances of a villainous millionaire banker who preys on distressed women—the incorrigible Mr. Daggers. Better known as the philandering husband of the stunning socialite Evelyn Daggers, Edgar stalks Penelope.
Skilled in the art of flirtation, Edgar is not without his charms, and Penelope is attracted to him against her better judgment. Over a series of encounters—some just out of earshot of his astute wife—Edgar promises Penelope the financial security she craves, but at what cost?
In a movement whose leaders are supposed to lead spotless lives, Penelope’s torrid affair with Mr. Daggers is a distraction, and early suffragist Amy Adams Buchanan Van Buren, herself the victim of a faithless spouse, urges Penelope to put an end to it. But can she? Besieged by three indomitable personalities and searching for sanctuary in three cities, Penelope will need to discover her hidden reserves of courage and tenacity. During a glittering age where a woman’s reputation is her most valuable possession, Penelope must decide whether to compromise her principles for love.
Prior to publication, Diana Forbes’s debut won first place in the Missouri Romance Writers of America (RWA) Gateway to the Best Contest for Women’s Fiction. A selection from the novel was a finalist in the Wisconsin RWA “Fab Five” Contest. Mistress Suffragette won first place in the Chanticleer Chatelaine Award for Historical Romance and was shortlisted in the Somerset Award for Literary Fiction.
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