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Born Simone Jules, reinvented as Eleanor Dumont, and largely remembered as Madame Moustache, A Betting Woman is a historical novel inspired by the tumultuous life, times, and loves of America’s first professional croupier of modern-day blackjack, bringing to life an intrepid and entrepreneurial real-life woman who lived on her own terms.
When her whole family dies in a fire, young Simone flees her grief and travels west to reinvent herself in burgeoning San Francisco. Down to her last dollar and facing some unsavory options, Simone quick-wits her way to a gambling table where she begins to deal vingt-et-un—modern-day blackjack. Word travels fast among of this French-speaking, card-playing novelty, and she begins to build a new life for herself.
Self-sufficient Simone doesn’t count on falling for an artist— not to mention a man of a different skin color—who society, and the law, says she can’t have. When he is murdered, Simone is devastated and sets off to find closure for his death.
Finding her way to a new boomtown, she adopts a new name, Eleanor Dumont, and opens her very own gambling emporium. "Dumont's Place" is a great success, drawing mountain men and fortune seekers from far and wide.
But the boom and bust of the gold rush stops for no one, nor do the challenges of a man’s world. Eleanor must continue to fight—for her livelihood, for her self-worth, and most of all, for her legacy.
A gripping and endearing tale, A Betting Woman brings to life an intrepid and entrepreneurial female who lived on her own terms... a Molly's Game for lovers of the American West. Fans of Thelma Adams, Therese Anne Fowler, and Marie Benedict will root for the quick-witted, charming, and self-sufficient Eleanor as she paves her way in a man’s world and into the pages of history.
“A riveting tale based on a real-life woman who traversed the Wild West in the 1800s, dealing cards to gold-seekers and demanding respect on her own terms. From high society New Orleans to the dusty saloons of California, Walsh’s latest heroine is a seductive risk-taker who doesn’t suffer fools. A rollicking ride of a story.” — Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue
“Engaging and empathetic, Eleanor Dumont's adventures provide a compelling picture of how women created lives for themselves in the hardscrabble boomtowns of the American West.” — Elise Hooper, author of The Other Alcott, Learning to See, and Fast Girls
"An enjoyable search-for-identity tale with a strong female protagonist." - Kirkus
"Walsh has written a fast-paced, original tale of the Gold Rush, complete with gun and gambling, bar brawls and boomtown. Highlighting the life of Madame Dumont, mother of Blackjack and the queen of fresh starts, A Betting Woman is a Wild West adventure featuring an ambitious, gutsy, independent woman as it's driving force." - Amy Poeppel, author of Small Admissions, Limelight, and Musical Chairs
"A Betting Woman is an engrossing story, very well done and hard to put down. Hopefully, it will reach beyond historical fiction audiences and into enthusiasts of women's literature who look for powerful voices, experiences, descriptions, and growth in their novels. It's very highly recommended reading." - Midwest Book Review
“When Eleanor Dumont’s family perishes in a fire in downtown New Orleans, she cuts her ties to the city and leaves on the next steamboat to anywhere. Soon she embarks on a wild adventure that ultimately leads to her renowned nickname—Madame Moustache—and a legend is born. A clever and cunning heroine, Madame Moustache outwits the best card shark in the west, makes her own fortune, and does it all with enough panache to impress nearly every saloon-goer she’s ever met. Walsh’s snappy voice, innate sense of pacing, and skillful narration make for a rollicking good read. A Betting Woman is a winner!” - Heather Webb, USA Today bestselling author of The Next Ship Home
"A Betting Woman is a fascinating read that expertly weaves sparse fact and imaginative fiction into a story that introduces readers to a little-known but remarkable woman. Bold, pioneering, romantic, and intriguing, this novel will delight historical fiction fans and all who love a good tale about the strength and resilience of women.” - Camille Di Maio, bestselling author of The Memory of Us
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