The Lives of Diamond Bessie was a fast-paced, historical suspense novel that is inspired by a true story. Set during the women's rights movement, the story follows Bessie as she is forced to live at a convent for fallen women after getting pregnant out of wedlock. After being treated horribly and having her baby taken away from her at birth, she escapes and has to make a living and a life for herself on her own. Few rights and opportunities were available to women during the 1860s so she finds herself having to resort to prostitution even though she swore she would never go down that path. The need to survive changed her mind. As a prostitute, Bessie gets expensive gifts from her clients, money to help support herself and her love for shopping and a few love interests along the way. During this time, Bessie finds the only way out of prostitution is to get married. She has her sights set on a bachelor with a wealthy family and a gambling problem and after many missed warning signs, she finds herself marrying him. A man who turns out not to love her, but rather, he loves her precious jewels. Though he betrays her in the worst way possible, she does not let it stop her as she continues to haunt his mind and life from above.
(Note on subject matter: includes domestic violence and prostitution)
—Abigail Lindemann, Snail Readers Circle
". . . a compelling novel of historical suspense . . ." --M.J. Rose, New York Times best-selling author of The Jeweler of Stolen Dreams and The Last Tiara Pregnant out of wedlock, sixteen-year-old Annie Moore is sent to live at a convent for fallen women. When the nuns take her baby, Annie escapes, determined to find a way to be reunited with her daughter. But few rights or opportunities are available to a woman in the 1860s, and after failing to find a respectable job, Annie resorts to prostitution in order to survive.
As a highly sought-after demi-mondaine, Annie--now Bessie--garners many expensive gifts from her admirers, and eventually meets and marries the son of a wealthy jeweler. With her marriage, she believes her dream of returning to proper society has finally come true. She's proven wrong when she suffers the ultimate betrayal at the hands of the man she thought would be her salvation. But Bessie doesn't let her story end there.
Inspired by a true story and set amid the burgeoning women's rights movement, The Lives of Diamond Bessie is a haunting tale of betrayal and redemption that explores whether seeking revenge is worth the price you might pay.
"Drawing on a true story, Hadlock uses authentic period detail and well-drawn characters to pull readers into Annie/Bessie's precarious journey toward redemption, which comes to an unexpected ending. This affecting tale of a 19th-century American woman struggling to prove her worth other than as a marriage prospect leaves a lasting impression." --Publishers Weekly