Excerpt from The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The American Heiress

A Novel

by Daisy Goodwin

The American Heiress
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Mar 2012, 496 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Elizabeth Whitmore Funk

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Can you set aside your scruples now?" she said, holding out the bills.

The maid hesitated for a second and then took the money and tucked it away in her bodice. Seventy-five dollars should stop the hummingbird man looking at her like that. Taking a deep breath, she took Cora"s flushed cheeks gingerly in her hands and bent her head towards her mistress. She pressed her lips against hers with a modest pressure and drew back as quickly as she could.

Cora broke away impatiently. "No, I want you to do it properly. I saw you with that man. You looked as if, well," she paused, trying to find the right phrase, "as if you were eating each other."

This time she put her hands on the maid"s shoulders and pulled Bertha"s face towards hers and pushed her lips to Bertha"s, pressing as hard as she could.

Reluctantly Bertha pushed her mistress"s lips open with her tongue and ran it lightly around the other woman"s mouth. She felt her go stiff for a moment with shock and then Cora began to kiss her back, pushing her tongue between her teeth.

Bertha was the first to pull away. It was not unpleasant kissing Cora, it was certainly the most sweet-tasting kiss she had ever had. Better than Amos, who stank of chewing tobacco.

"You taste quite…piquant," said Cora, wiping her mouth with a lace handkerchief. "Is that all you have to do? You haven"t left anything out? I have to do this correctly." She looked earnestly at Bertha.

Not for the first time, Bertha wondered how anyone could be as educated as Cora and yet so ignorant. It was all Mrs Cash"s fault of course. She had raised Cora like a beautiful doll. She wouldn"t mind having Miss Cora"s money or her face, but she sure as hell wouldn"t want to have Miss Cora"s mother.

"If it"s just kissing you"re having in mind, Miss Cora, then I reckon that"s all you will require," Bertha said firmly.

"Aren"t you going to ask me who it is?" Cora said.

"Begging your pardon, Miss Cora, but I don"t want to know. If the Madam was to find out what you"re about…"

"She won"t, or rather, she will but by the time she does it will be too late. Everything will be different after tonight." She looked at the maid sideways as if challenging Bertha to ask her more. But Bertha was not to be drawn. So long as she didn"t ask questions, she couldn"t be made to answer them. She made her face go slack.

Cora, however, had lost interest in her. She was looking at herself in the long gilt cheval glass. Once they had kissed, she was sure that everything else would fall into place. They would announce their engagement and she would be a married woman by Christmas.

"You"d better get my costume ready, Bertha. Mother will be here in a minute, checking that I have followed her instructions à la lettre. I can"t believe I have to wear something so perfectly hideous. Still, Martha Van Der Leyden told me that her mother is making her dress like a Puritan maid so I suppose it could be worse."

Cora"s dress had been copied from a Velázquez painting of a Spanish infanta that Mrs Cash had bought because she had heard Mrs Astor admire it.

As Bertha took the elaborate hooped skirt from the closet, she wondered if the Madam had chosen her daughter"s costume as much for the way it restricted the wearer"s movement as for any artistic considerations. No gentleman would be able to get within three feet of Miss Cora. The kissing lesson would have been in vain.

She helped Cora out of her tea gown and into the farthingale. Cora had to step into it and Bertha had to fasten the harness like shutting a gate. The silk brocade of the skirt and bodice had been specially woven in Lyons; the fabric was heavy and dense. Cora swayed slightly as the weight of it settled on the frame. It would only take the slightest pressure to make her lose her balance entirely. The dress was three feet wide so Cora would have to go through all doorways sideways. Waltzing in such a dress would be impossible.

The American Heiress. Copyright © 2010 by Daisy Goodwin Productions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: All We Have Left
    All We Have Left
    by Wendy Mills
    September 11, 2001 is a date that few Americans will ever forget. It was on this day that our ...
  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

All my major works have been written in prison...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.