The Last Dollar Princess

A Young Heiress's Quest for Independence in Gilded Age America and George V's Coronation Year England

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Pub Date 22 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 29 Sep 2022

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It must be said. Scandal follows her family like an ever-faithful hound. No matter how hard they kick it away, it comes slinking around time-after-time. Although her relatives are obsessed with social position and the opinions of others, heiress India Elisabeth Petra De Vries Ledbetter is determined to live life by her own terms, family expectations and society's demands be damned.

Reared away from the social whirl of Gilded Age New York, India would prefer a life of philanthropy in her native Appalachia, but Mother and Grandmama have far grander plans. They believe Mrs. Astor's old 400 are ready to overlook the past and that an advantageous marriage will cement their place in society once more. In fact, they have already selected the prospective bridegroom. The only problem? No one consulted India.

With captivating insights into the human spirit and heart, The Last Dollar Princess leads us on a riveting quest for self-determination through the most elegant and glamorous settings of the early 20th century. Perfect for fans of Marie Benedict, Daisy Goodwin, and Julian Fellows, this sweeping work of historical fiction will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.

It must be said. Scandal follows her family like an ever-faithful hound. No matter how hard they kick it away, it comes slinking around time-after-time. Although her relatives are obsessed with...

A Note From the Publisher

Linda Bennett Pennell has been in love with the past for as long as she can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws her in. It probably comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on her grandmother's wrap around porch or winter evenings gathered by the fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course, being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into Linda's work.

Linda resides in the Houston, Texas area with her sweet husband and an adorable Labradoodle, Lulu, who is quite certain she's a little girl, not a dog.

Linda Bennett Pennell has been in love with the past for as long as she can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws her in. It probably comes...

Advance Praise

2022 Maxy Awards Finalist - Historical and Adventure

", witty, and enthralling," -Kerry Chaput, award-winning author of the Defying the Crown series

"...I highly recommend this delightful novel of a glittering era," -Cindy Marsch, author of The Ramsdell Family series and editor at Moraines Edge Books

"Well researched with lush settings and vivd enjoyable read filled with lively characters..." -Kristin Gleeson, USA Today Bestselling author of In Praise of the Bees

"...[an] engaging, well-written, and cohesive storyline...Recommended." -Pamela Allegretto, author of Bridge of Sighs and Dreams

2022 Maxy Awards Finalist - Historical and Adventure

", witty, and enthralling," -Kerry Chaput, award-winning author of the Defying the Crown series

"...I highly recommend this delightful novel...

Available Editions

ISBN 9781685130312
PRICE $6.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 21 members

Featured Reviews

I really enjoyed getting to know India Elisabeth Petra De Vries Ledbetter, it was what I was hoping for from the description. It was a beautifully done time-period and each character works for the period, I loved the way Linda Bennett Pennell writes both characters and the plot of the book. I was invested in what was going on with India and enjoyed every minute. I can't wait to read more from Ms. Pennell.

"There was disquiet growing within India, an unwillingness to be pushed and prodded by other people’s expectations and desires. This trip and all the trappings associated with a London season were beginning to feel like a colossal mistake. She wasn’t ready to get married."

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I loved this story, especially the main character, India. I thought the author created a believable storyline. Her characters ' descriptions, actions and settings made the story enjoyable.

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A very good page turner with a strong female protagonist. The story started a little slow but soon picked up and I found myself eager to get back to it. I struggled a bit with India's and Charles relationship but ended up accepting it for what it was presented to be. Thanks to Netgalley, the author and publishers for an e-arc in exchange for my honest opinion.

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I love books about the British aristocracy and this book didn’t disappoint. The story is about a 19 year old American heiress whose mother is determined to get her married to someone with a title. So she starts to “campaign” her daughter to aristocrats who are down on their luck and need an infusion of cash so go looking for rich heiresses to marry. Sort of reminded me of Downton Abbey. I would definitely recommend this book.

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'The Last Dollar Princess' brings to life the Gilded Age phenomena of American wealth purchasing prestige and respectability from British aristocracy by way of marriage. Linda Pennell's evocative language illuminates the turn of the century New York societal echelons where their sparkle simply reflects the machinations of social climbing.

India Ledbetter is the sole heir to a fortune. Having been raised away from the societal spotlight, her mother and grandmother feel that now's the time for her debut both into New York society and the marriage market. Further, India's mother hopes to regain her family's respectability through her daughter marrying advantageously, 'you are no more and no less than the man you marry'. However, this is a new century and India intends to find her own way and become her own woman. Contrary to her mother and grandmother's social jockeying, India realises that 'maybe honesty is more important than appearances'.

'The Last Dollar Princess' is well worth a read, not only as a romance but as a work of historical fiction. Linda Pennell captures the nuances of the age but enlightens us about a time when a place in society could seemingly be bought and wealthy American heiresses were 'sold' into what some have deemed as a type of slavery.

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I love a book that transports me back in time and this book did not disappoint in that regard. I enjoy reading fiction or nonfiction from any time in our history and in this story the writing style helped immerse me as the reader into the era with vocabulary used in that time period, like “pernicious” and “perambulation” and references to things like ships such as the Lusitania and (vaguely) the Titanic. I found myself frequently reminded of a drama serious I recently streamed that depicted this time period and the decline of the Gilded Age, as there were so many similarities in the two stories. This story sucked me in early and I was eager to get back to it whenever I had a few minutes to read.

I thought the main characters India and Charlie were likable, moderately complex, and early on found myself hoping things would work out for them. The writer weaves a path that keeps you guessing about their destiny right up until the very last chapter. Along the way there are descriptions of the locales where the story takes place that make you feel you are there, smelling all the smells and seeing the beautiful sights of the mountains, the moors, and the cities.

With several of the characters, like India’s mother, grandmother and mother-in-law, I found myself hoping their personalities would soften as the book progressed as they were so negative, sometimes spiteful and malicious. While I know there were society women like this with similar agendas in this era, I like to feel there had to have been some redeeming qualities and true love for their children. However, proof of that was absent here and somehow made me uncomfortable whenever they were part of the story. I wanted to race past these scenes and move on. This kept me from enjoying this book as much as I might have.

Overall definitely worth the time.

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This book was mostly about one’s emotions, passions and ways to keep them inside or... not being able to do so. Because of that, you could quickly find yourself reading on. When you read about an emotion for 100 pages or so, you’re bound to do just that, but trust me when I say - stick around for the ending. It was perfect..

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This novel was a surprise, not at all what I was expecting from the book cover. It’s an endearing story of two people in the early 1900s America, deemed a good ‘match’ by domineering mothers. One looking to secure a marriage to support a floundering English estate, the other an escape from a domineering mother. When initially introduced neither party was enamoured by the other, but as the story progressed they called a truce and formed an alliance to support each other in any number of situations. Easy, relaxing and entertaining with hints of humour between the couple. One reference caught my attention: a confrontation between the two mother-in-laws being a dreadnought about to collide sticks in my mind. Naturally this was inevitably a love story, so all ends well.

My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers Black Rose Writing for this advance copy.

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Set in the Gilded Age in America and England, The Last Dollar Princess is about marriage of convenience (and, classes (especially aristocracy but also "the help"), reputation, appearances, the 400, women's independence, loyalty and love. Not only that but there are scandals, deception, secrets and snippets of true history of this fascinating era.

India Ledbetter is a debutante who comes from new American wealth. However, she finds aristocratic circles to be stiff and arrogant, much preferring her rugged beautiful Appalachian mountains. As the heiress born into fortune, she has no choice but to marry a titled man from England, preferably from an old family lineage. Charles Westmorland (Charlie) is the fifteenth Lord Kilnsey who is bored with aristocracy and would like nothing more than to help others. His beloved family castle needs repairing and he needs money. The two inevitably meet and adventures begin. Their mothers are adept at falsities whilst maintaining appearances. We also see sorrow, angst and a plethora of wonderful historical descriptions and vernacular.

Historical Fictions readers, this is unmissable if you are keen to immerse yourself in the Gilded Age and the enjoyment of antics, shrouds of secrets and romance.

My sincere thank you to Black Rose Writing and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this delightfully captivating book!

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I really like the premise and the fact that this book felt like a step back into the past. I enjoyed the main character and her journey. I loved the setting as well and it was well written. X

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4.5 stars! The Last Dollar Princess is the story of India Ledbetter, the only daughter and heiress of a father who comes from “new” money and a mother from “old money” New York society. India grows up in North Carolina on a huge estate, and away from the society her mother was raised in, but as India comes of age at the end of the Gilded Age, her mother takes her to NYC to participate in the season, and find her a titled husband from across the pond, who is worthy of the daughter of old society. The problem is that India wants no part in NYC, society, or finding a husband. In spite of her mother’s best laid plans, the family soon find out that scandal has followed them and has turned Mrs. Ledbetter’s plans sour. Meanwhile, India just wants to return to her mountain home, her father, and her horse. Will she find a husband suitable for her free-spirited character?

This was a well written and engaging story. The characters leapt off the page and I couldn’t wait to see where the story took India. I enjoyed the clash between old and new money. The only thing that bothered me, was that at the beginning of the book, every time a British man said something, it started with “I say”. It was a bit tedious. But, if you loved Downton Abbey, or the Gilded Age, you will enjoy this story.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publishers, and the author for an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Scandal has always followed heiress India Elisabeth Petra De Vries Ledbetter. Yet despite her relatives obsessing over their societal position, she is determined to live her life as she pleased. Reared away from the social whirl of Gilded Age New York, India would prefer a life of philanthropy in her native Appalachia, but Mother and Grandmama have far grander plans. They would like her to have an advantageous marriage that will ultimately cement their place in society. So they go about selecting a husband for India, without her knowledge.
Such great, well developed characters! The women in India’s life highlight societal expectations of early twentieth century young women and marriage. However, I loved how India had the courage and strength to determine her own life. This is a cleverly written book and well worth savouring.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Pisgah, North Carolina - 1910

India Ledbetter, 10, loves the beautiful mountains of Pisgah where she has been raised. Her father, Robert, was also raised in this area and has built a very large home. He is the son and heir of Wall Street oil tycoon, Thomas Jefferson Ledbetter. Her mother, Petra, doesn’t like living there and prefers her hometown of New York. Her mother, Elizabeth ”Betsy” de Vries Van de Berg of New York, was once quite wealthy and part of the 400, but now she has fallen on hard times and depends upon Robert to fund her lifestyle. While living well on his wealth, she shuns him as he is considered part of the nouveau riche. Petra is taking India to New York for her first season. They are staying with her grandmother.

As India attends some soirees, she meets different men. Charles Westmorland 15th Lord Kilney is from the UK and suspected to be penniless. Another man, William Connor, Esq. is an attorney and India sneaks out to see him.

India’s mother is determined to “sell” her daughter off to the “highest bidder.” She has dreams of her marrying a Duke. Soon, India tires of her mother pushing her all the time and is determined to follow her own heart.

This is a very good book of the Gilded Age which is one of my favorite times in history to read about. Women are beginning to come into their own and are fighting for their rights to vote and do what they want in life. I liked India but there were times that she made me frustrated. That’s when I had to remind myself that she was only 19-20 years old. Her mother is a true “piece of work.” Oh, but India’s maid, Althea, is a lovely woman and my favorite character. It all seems historically accurate which makes this book one I am happy to recommend to readers.

Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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1910 From the mountains of North Carolina to the glittering society of New York, I was captivated by the writing and story of India as she makes her way into society.

Her family wants her to make a society match, but she would rather be home in her beloved mountains. Luckily India has determination and feisty nature.

I love history and this is one of my favorite time periods. With the author's descriptions, you feel you are there. Highly recommend!

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