To Marry an English Lord by Gail D. McColl and Carol McD. Wallace
Don't let the title or the cover fool you. This is not a romance novel. I was reading it at the doctor's office and got some interesting looks, so I tried to avoid reading it in public.
Around the 1870's rich American girls who were having trouble breaking into the upper crust of New York society, decided to take their wares across the Atlantic. An agricultural depression had left the landed aristocracy in England quite impoverished and they were looking to marry money to pay their debts and replenish their estates. This was a role the American heiresses were happy to fill. They got an Enlish title, and the lords could afford their lives of leisure once again. It was a win-win situation.
The Prince of Wales, the soon to be Edward VII, loved being entertained. The American girls were pretty, smart, and not afraid of English men. The Prince wanted to go to parties. Unfortunately, the poor peerage couldn't afford to invite him unless they had money, so the Prince was happy to endorse the marriages to these lovely, stimulating, rich women.
This book was enlightening and informative. There were lots of sidebars and pictures. The only handicap was the sidebars interrupted the flow of the narrative. Granted, each of the sections was barely more than a couple of pages, but adding full page sidebars tended to break up the information so much, it was difficult to keep track of the thread. On the other hand, the pictures were a great addition and made it that much easier to remember that these were real people once upon a time. Not just names on a page.