The Last Dollar Princess

Bennett Pennell

India Elisabeth Petra De Vries Ledbetter would rather live her life in her native Appalachia doing good works and staying home than attending the social whirl of Gilded Age New York. However, her mother and grandmama have plans in store for India and her fortune, so India finds herself attempting to impress the Astor’s old 400 and make an impressive match. However, old scandals still haunt her family. When hearts are broken and Society turns away, only her mother’s choice for a match remains, leaving India with one choice. Fight to control her own marriage or remain under her mother’s thumb forever.

At the end of the glittering Gilded Age, India is a woman with her own mind, but little experience or freedom to exercise it. Thrust together with Charles Westmorland the Earl of Kilnsey, and a man in great need of India’s money, the romance between them is stilted at first and full of unwillingness. Fortunately, as backgrounds are explored and characters are given depth, adversaries become friends and then more as the challenges both India and Charles face are brought forward one by one. While many of India’s decisions and freedoms are limited and occasionally manipulated, as was usual at the time, the story successfully shows her growth. Charles grows as well but to a lesser degree. Although some questions are left unanswered, readers will likely find a great deal to like in the more independent India and the man who wins her heart. Overall, this book can easily sweep the reader into a time that shone on the outside but had secrets within.

Sarah E Bradley