Release Date: June 2011
Publisher: Macmillan | St. Martin's
Pages: 468 pages
Source & Format: Gift; Hardcover
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary (from Amazon)
Be careful what you wish for. Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’, suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Money, Cora soon learns, cannot buy everything, as she must decide what is truly worth the price in her life and her marriage.
Thoughts on The American Heiress
Since you probably can't read it in this picture, the blurb on the cover says, "Anyone suffering from Downton Abbey withdrawal symptoms will find an instant tonic in Daisy Goodwin's deliciously evocative first novel." When I passed this book in Barnes & Noble, I was definitely suffering from Downton withdrawal and hoped this would do the trick. Sadly, I quickly learned that an imitation isn't always flattering.
Cora Cash's family is rich, and she's beautiful. So what could she possible need? The thing money can't buy her - a title. So, she travels abroad with her mother in order to find an eligible bachelor. Her mother is controlling, and her father serves no purpose other than supplying them with money.
As soon as Cora arrives in London, she undergoes training with an American woman living abroad who makes a living teaching rich heiresses how to find themselves a man with a title. That section was kind of interesting, but everything just went downhill from there.
While out riding, Cora falls off her horse and is rescued by Ivo. He's a duke, and they end up getting married. There are a few interactions in between them meeting and marrying, but they weren't memorable in the least.
There's a lot of drama once they get married. It was mostly predictable, overdramatic or just stupid. Ivo is an ass for almost the entire book, and Cora herself is pretty unlikeable.
Honestly, this was such a letdown. My biggest complaint with the book was that I felt like it was trying to be both a romance and historical fiction. I don't read romance novels, but I love historical fiction. Sadly, this wasn't good historical fiction. It was fluffy, predictable and it bothered me that it felt like there were these random racy moments that seemed to be added for no reason. For example, Cora is concerned that she won't know how to kiss. So, she kisses her mixed-race maid to practice. Ummmm.... what? I just seemed so strange and out-of-place. And that was just in the first twenty pages.
It's not a terrible book, but it's not one I would recommend. There are so many great examples of historical fiction out there, and this one just didn't cut it for me.
"Cora found most novels hard to sympathize with - all those plain governesses - but this one had much to recommend it. The heroine was 'handsome, clever, and rich', rather like Cora herself. Cora knew she was handsome - wasn't she always referred to in the papers as 'the divine Miss Cash'? She was clever - she could speak three languages and could handle calculus. And as to rich, well, she was undoubtedly that. Emma Woodhouse was not rich in the way that she, Cora Cash, was rich. [...] But Emma Woodhouse was motherless which meant, thought Cora, that she was handsome, clever, rich and free."