Review: A Betting Woman: A Novel of Madame Moustache by Jenni L. Walsh

Over the years I have started to work with more exclusively with larger publishing houses but I still have a special spot in my heart for smaller publishers and their great authors who maybe don’t get the same recognition that some of the larger houses do. When I can, I do try to read books from smaller publishers especially when they look really good!

When I was approached to review A Betting Woman, I liked the premise of the book. I love that it was based on a real person and that it focused on the life of a women who was making her own way in the gambling world during the gold rush. I wrote a paper in college on the gold rush and how it brought settlers west and created a lot of boom towns so it’s a time period that is interesting to me and often not explored in traditional historical fiction.

If you are a historical fiction fan but are looking for something a little off the beaten path then I think this would be a good option for you. This one has a distinct American West vibe that is fun and fresh so if it sounds like something you are craving then you need to snag yourself a copy!


Born Simone Jules, reinvented as Eleanor Dumont, and largely remembered as Madame Moustache, A Betting Woman is a historical novel inspired by the tumultuous life, times, and loves of America’s first professional croupier of modern-day blackjack, bringing to life an intrepid and entrepreneurial real-life woman who lived on her own terms.

When her whole family dies in a fire, young Simone flees her grief and travels west to reinvent herself in burgeoning San Francisco. Down to her last dollar and facing some unsavory options, Simone quick-wits her way to a gambling table where she begins to deal vingt-et-un—modern-day blackjack. Word travels fast among of this French-speaking, card-playing novelty, and she begins to build a new life for herself.

Self-sufficient Simone doesn’t count on falling for an artist— not to mention a man of a different skin color—who society, and the law, says she can’t have. When he is murdered, Simone is devastated and sets off to find closure for his death.

Finding her way to a new boomtown, she adopts a new name, Eleanor Dumont, and opens her very own gambling emporium. “Dumont’s Place” is a great success, drawing mountain men and fortune seekers from far and wide.

But the boom and bust of the gold rush stops for no one, nor do the challenges of a man’s world. Eleanor must continue to fight—for her livelihood, for her self-worth, and most of all, for her legacy.

A gripping and endearing tale, A Betting Woman brings to life an intrepid and entrepreneurial female who lived on her own terms… a Molly’s Game for lovers of the American West. Fans of Thelma Adams, Therese Anne Fowler, and Marie Benedict will root for the quick-witted, charming, and self-sufficient Eleanor as she paves her way in a man’s world and into the pages of history. (summary from Goodreads)


I liked this book a lot and it was a good length but in some ways I wish it was a little longer because I enjoyed the history and characters so much and would have liked to have more to read! It’s an average length book at around 300 pages which is good, but I would have liked a little more simply because I enjoyed my time with the characters. I loved how the author laid out the history in this one too, especially about black jack. I don’t really know much about black jack so this was an unexpected bonus for me to read about.

The character of Madame Moustache was excellent and well developed. Yes this story is based on a real person, but it was fun to read about this reimagined person as well. I thought that the author did a good job blending fact with fiction when it came to her life and the story. When I was done with the book I actually Googled her and was so curious to see what she actually looked like and read more about her. And she was a beautiful women even by historic standards. I was shocked to see how well the author captured her essence in this book! I loved her resilience and strength which were the highlighted so well in this book.

They story itself had great flow and the author really brought the American West and gold rush to life. Frontier history is an obscure period in history that few people really write about but I think there are some amazing stories that need telling in the old American West and I loved that the author was bold in her choice for this book. I know the author has written some other books, some about Bonnie and Clyde which I would enjoy reading too. She has a true love for historical fiction and the lesser known females.

Book Info and Rating

Format304 pages, Paperback

Expected publicationJune 1, 2021 by Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing

ISBN9781948018951 (ISBN10: 1948018950)LanguageEnglish

Free review copy provided by, author and publisher, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 4 stars

Genre: historical fiction


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