In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father's reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.
On a Tuesday in mid-February, wearing the bronze silk I wore to my first ball, I pledged my life to Tom Randolph under the watchful eyes of my father and all our country friends.
For music, my father hired the talented mixed-race Scott family to play. But my father’s mixed-race mistress and her son could have no place at my wedding. In France, if Sally had been a woman of any social standing, even as notorious courtesan, her presence might be expected. But here we hid her away in the slave cabins to care for her newborn out of sight of the guests.
In truth, I remember very little about my wedding day except for the way my father relinquished my hand to the groom, and I felt in that moment, a nearly unbearable tearing asunder.
More curious, I suppose, is how well I remember the wedding night.
Tom descended upon me like a storm, sweeping me up in the violent rapture of our coming together as man and wife. He wanted my love and I think some part of him believed he could squeeze it from me with the power of his hands alone. He was superbly athletic—elastic as steel—and his hands and body crowded out everything but basic animal instinct.
I was the daughter of a rational but passionate philosopher. I’d spent my life contemplating the debate between head and heart. But never before had I contemplated the demands of a ravenous body and the ecstatic escape to be found in surrendering to its appetite.
Tom’s lovemaking gave me a pleasure devoid of sentimentality, wrapping a thick gauze of self-delusion over still-bleeding wounds. His tireless passion was an opiate so potent that I became intoxicated on the power I had to arouse. He knew, I think, that though he’d married me, he hadn’t mastered me.
So he had to try again and again.
STEPHANIE DRAY is an award-winning, bestselling and two-time RITA award nominated author of historical women’s fiction. Her critically acclaimed series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into eight different languages and won NJRW's Golden Leaf. As Stephanie Draven, she is a national bestselling author of genre fiction and American-set historical women's fiction. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation's capital. Before she became a novelist, she was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the stories of women in history to inspire the young women of today.
Laura Kamoie has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction books on early America, and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction as the New York Times bestselling author of over twenty books, Laura Kaye. Her debut historical novel, America's First Daughter, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.
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