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Extended Audio Sample Parlor Games: A Novel Audiobook, by Maryka Biaggio Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (288 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Maryka Biaggio Narrator: Leslie Carroll Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2013 ISBN: 9780449806692
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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 fiancé 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’ 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An engaging glimpse into a character, who categorically eludes our attempts to define her.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Sheer, frenetic fun.”

    Booklist

  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jaime | 2/10/2014

    " Meh. I found it was a struggle to care about May, to relate to her, to understand her motives and to "believe" that her pesky detective always seemed to appear at the most inopportune times. Also, the title and the cover seem a very poor fit for this novel that rarely, if ever, occurs in a parlor and certainly details the exploits of only one scrupulous woman that I can recall. Who is that other woman supposed to be on the cover? Barely two stars. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda Smatzny | 1/19/2014

    " This novel was different in that the timeline kept changing. Also it was told in the first person which I am not overly fond of. The main character,May Dugas, was an actual person. She was a woman who lived by conning men. It is set all over the world from the late 1800's to 1918. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy Carbajal | 1/10/2014

    " Fictional based account on the life of May Dugasv and a famous trial in 1917 where she was sued by a female friend for extortion. May is born in Menominee, Michigian and thats the only time her life is not lived in a world of cons and affairs. The Pinkertons actually dubbed her "The Worlds Dangerous Woman." But May will tell you her story about how she was a woman in a mans world and had to make her own way thru it because she had a family who needed her help. I finished this read in one day, its very interesting and while May does cheat and lie, there is a reason for it...according to May. And all she asks is that you listen to her story. I liked it very much, quite an adventure. Oh! And she's a reader! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Holland Saltsman | 11/26/2013

    " Very loosely based historical fiction. While I found May an amusing & fun character, I did start to tire of her towards the end. Easy read with a fiesty, creative, law breaking main character. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eve | 11/19/2013

    " I actually listened to the audiobook. I thought it was very exciting. The members of my book group who read the book said it was tedious at times. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Stephanie | 11/16/2013

    " Maybe it was just my mood when reading this, but I had a hard time getting into it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karin | 11/14/2013

    " Interesting read, based on a true story. Maybe more interesting because I've spent a decent amount of time in Menominee! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie Dudley | 11/5/2013

    " Maryka made May a real person who sometimes I loved and other times I wanted to just shake her and say " really, how could you?" A great read, interesting characters and wonderful locations. As a bonus Maryka was once my neighbor! Bravo Maryka! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 John | 10/26/2013

    " I was turned off the first time I saw the words "dear reader." That was on Page 1. I got through the first five chapters before having to give up. The character doesn't interest me, the writing is flowery and superficial, the plot a bore. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maryellen Woodside | 10/3/2013

    " In 1917, May Dugas finds herself on trial for extortion. May tells the reader just how she came to be in that situation. Readers are treated to her adventures in many different lands. May is cunning and always seems to figure a way to overcome any reverses. A fun read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vanessa Phonsavanh | 9/21/2013

    " Three stars just because it wasn't what I was expecting. I judged the book by its cover and sale price... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tara Hun-Dorris | 9/19/2013

    " Flat flat flat - not worthy of the real Mae or the interesting times "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vickie Lytton | 9/14/2013

    " What a life!! Based on a real person who lived by her wits. She was a tough lady who bounced back time and time again! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 7/28/2013

    " This was a great book. I would recommend it to friends and family. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Connie Sievers | 7/26/2013

    " Mildly entertaining!!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Fran | 7/19/2013

    " I almost didn't finish this book but after reading the reviews I decided to finish. It was interesting and held my attention. The best part was when I found out it was based on a true story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dolly | 5/20/2013

    " The life journey of a woman from the fist part of the 20th century who knew what she wanted in life and went for it. May Dugas tries to live life on her own terms, just be sure to hold onto your wallet when you meet her. Great characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 KC | 5/1/2013

    " Reminded me some of the tone of Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. I thoroughly enjoyed the book but did not like the ending, it just seemed to abrupt endly, like she was tired of writing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jmoore223 | 2/3/2013

    " Based on a true story. Fascinating! "

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About the Author

Maryka Biaggio is a former psychology professor turned novelist, with a passion for historical fiction.

About the Narrator

Leslie Carroll has written contemporary fiction under her own name and historical fiction under the pen name of Amanda Elyot. Also an award-winning narrator, she has read books by Anne Girard, Maryka Biaggio, and others.