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They can buy anything they want—fame, power, beauty, even loyalty. But they can’t buy love.
The beautiful and wealthy heiress daughters of August Price can buy everything their hearts desire. But what if their desire is to be loved, without an enormous price tag attached? When one sister betrays another for the sake of love, will she find happiness? And what happens when the other sets out across the still untamed frontier to find it—will she discover she’s left it behind in the glamorous world of the New York gilded society? What price will each woman pay for being an heiress?
Set in the opulent world of the Gilded Age, two women discover that being an heiress just might cost them everything they love.
Excerpt of Chapter One:
Heiress Part 1: Sisters
New York City, 1896
With the wrong smile, her sister could destroy Jinx’s world.
“Loosen your breath, Esme, and the lacing will go easier.” Jinx sat on the ottoman,
watching Bette pull the stays of Esme’s new corset as her sister hung onto the lacing bar.
The corset, silk damask with embroidered tea roses, pale pink ribbons along the heart-shaped
bust line and a polished brass busk, had arrived only yesterday in a shipment from Worth’s of
Esme didn’t deserve something so beautiful, not with her gigantic twenty-one-inch waist,
the way she fought the corsetiere during the fitting, and now held her breath instead of exhaling
to lose yet another half-inch.
Jinx, still in her training corset, had long ago shaved her torso down to eighteen inches.
She deserved a damask corset, in the new S-shaped style, the way it erected the posture,
protruded her hips, and forced her body into the elegant shape of a society woman. But her
corset wouldn’t arrive until her mother ordered her debut trousseau, hopefully after the end of
this year’s society season. After all, she’d already turned seventeen, would be eighteen when the
season started next November.
She should have been born first.
Esme closed her eyes, as if in pain. “Mother, I can’t breathe. I will faint during the
“Perhaps you will be recovered by someone of significance.” Phoebe sat on a gold-foiled
Marie Antoinette chair, the red plush velvet like a throne as she perched upon it, surveying her
eldest daughter’s preparations. “It wouldn’t hurt your attention to be found swooning during a
waltz into the arms of the Astor heir.”
Esme made a face. “More likely, I’ll find myself discarded in the sitting room, one of
the Astor’s maids fanning me to consciousness. Please, Bette, that is enough.” She released the
lacing bar, letting her arms fall, and cast a look at their mother, who assented with a flick of her
Jinx bit back a huff of disgust. It simply wasn’t fair that, despite Esme’s almost militant
repulsion to securing a husband, men lined up to call on her during her at-home days, appeared
after church to walk her home, vied to be seated beside her at dinner parties, and begged her to
partner with them in golf and tennis. Most of all, they bedecked her with bouquets of dark red
Jacqueminot roses or deep pink Boneselline rosebuds before every ball.
Jinx blamed Esme’s exquisite beauty—her straw-blonde hair, too-blue eyes, a form that
frankly, needed no corset to enhance—because Esme had interest in none of her suitors, despite
their pedigrees. Worse, her sister almost purposely confused the etiquette of dinner, refused the
language of the fan, and occasionally wandered out onto some dark balcony to view the stars
while the after-dinner German was called, leaving her suitors with no one to present their flowers
or party gifts to. Jinx had no doubt her sister wouldn’t hesitate to attend Caroline Astor’s January
ball with her uncorseted body loose in a tea dress, while she pressed her nose into some dime
God had been so unfair.
As if Esme could read Jinx’s thoughts, she turned to her mother, even as Bette followed
her to fasten her stays. “Really, Mother, are you sure I must attend tonight’s ball? I’m exhausted.
Tea today at the Wilson’s, and last night dinner at the Fish’s and the Opera the night before? I
am simply wasted to the bone—”