Tuesday, May 30, 1893, Newport, Rhode Island
Imagine being sent to a party with a gun pointed at your head. You might look bewitching; you might wear a proper
pale blue gown, with its gathered skirt and off-the-shoulder neckline. You might sport the perfect pair of ivory silk ballroom slippers. Your fiery hair might be dressed in coils and feminine curls.
But inside, underneath the pleats and the padding, knowing about your father’s possible ruin, I bet you’d feel frightened.
You might believe this to be your last party. You might sense your short life flash before your eyes—the leisurely days of riding horses till your thighs ached, the long nights of
preparing French verb conjugations till your fingers cramped up, or helping the Ladies Auxiliary return stray cats to their owners.
Try as you might to shut your eyes to the hard facts, to the sudden unmooring of your destiny, you’d know that when friends asked how you were faring, you wouldn’t say much, hoping you might get by with some idle pleasantries or banalities about the weather.
Mistress Suffragette Description:
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 prize 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 “Romantic and Sensual” and was shortlisted for the Somerset Award for Literary Fiction.
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