Monday, January 21, 2013

Parlor Games

"A sweeping historical novel about a beautiful con artist whose turn-of-the-century escapades take her around the world as she's doggedly pursued by a Pinkerton Agency detective

The novel opens in 1917 with our cunning protagonist, May Dugas, standing trial for extortion. As the trial unfolds, May tells her version of events.
In 1887, at the tender age of eighteen, May ventures to Chicago in hopes of earning enough money to support her family. Circumstances force her to take up residence at the city’s most infamous bordello, but May soon learns to employ her considerable feminine wiles to extract not only sidelong looks but also large sums of money from the men she encounters.  Insinuating herself into Chicago’s high society, May lands a well-to-do fiancĂ©—until, that is, a Pinkerton Agency detective named Reed Doherty intervenes and summarily foils the engagement.

Unflappable May quickly rebounds, elevating seduction and social climbing to an art form as she travels the world, eventually marrying a wealthy Dutch Baron. Unfortunately, Reed Doherty is never far behind and continues to track May in a delicious cat-and-mouse game as the newly-minted Baroness’s misadventures take her from San Francisco to Shanghai to London and points in between.

The Pinkerton Agency really did dub May the “Most Dangerous Woman,” branding her a crafty blackmailer and ruthless seductress.  To many, though, she was the most glamorous woman to grace high society. Was the real May Dugas a cold-hearted swindler or simply a resourceful provider for her poor family?

As the narrative bounces back and forth between the trial taking place in 1917 and May’s devious but undeniably entertaining path to the courtroom—hoodwinking and waltzing her way through the gilded age and into the twentieth century—we're left to ponder her guilt as we move closer to finding out what fate ultimately has in store for our irresistible adventuress."

Plot: If you are expecting some witty, fast paced con story passed in the "turn-of-the-century". Than this is not for you. The story is slow and repetitive and I wouldn't call Ms. Dugas a con artist, more of a Survivalist Gold Digger.

Characters: I didn't like May and I had a feeling I wouldn't when she started with a sentence along the lines of "trust me friends, it wasn't my fault and this account will prove it". I didn't hate her, I just couldn't find her likeable.

Final Thoughts: I was really disappointed. The book was not what I was hoping it would be. It was a lot of repetitive-ness and I kept reading it, in hopes that the book would turn around and give me some big shocker, like it led me to believe it would have. I will say, for a long book, it did go by pretty quickly. Since it is based on account of the real May Dugas, you may enjoy this book, but as far as fun historical fiction books go. I wouldn't recommend it.

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