Love is the ultimate gamble…
Seasoned gambler Philip Drake knows every trick and uses most of them. After years of infamy, he’s ready to accept the mantle of respectability with his earldom— until a devastating racing loss and the threat of debtors’ prison force Philip right back into his gaming ways…
Susannah, Lady Messingham, is a woman with a past who refuses to belong to any man again. But Philip’s skill catches her eye and she persuades him to teach her how to win at the tables. Their new partnership turns into an exhilarating high-stakes game that entangles them in terrifying risk and unimaginable rewards…
Immerse yourself in the risky side of Georgian England with a pair of lovers who aren’t afraid to risk it all on a toss of the dice…
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Warning: This review contains a few minor spoilers
In the spring of 2010 I had the pleasure of reading The Highest Stakes, a delightful equestrian-themed novel by Emery Lee. I was also honored when she offered the very first guest post for The Calico Critic. When I heard she’d published another novel and was given the opportunity to review it, I jumped at the chance.
While my reading interest in recent years has heavily favored novels with romantic themes, I try to stay away from cheap, tawdry “bodice rippers”, as I term them. I do enjoy a good love story, but there must be more to a book than passionate embraces and yearning looks. Plot choices, character development and originality are important factors, and graphic sex scenes are a drawback in my estimation.
So imagine my disappointed surprise when Emery Lee’s next work, Fortune's Son arrived in my mailbox, presented in cover art more befitting a throwaway novel found in the back of a used bookstore. I know one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but the image of a half-dressed English lord caressing a fuchsia-clad damsel was enough to send my eyes rolling back into their sockets. Surely the author of The Highest Stakes is above this kind of marketing! Despite my extreme distaste, I set to work on the story, but not before I covered the images on the front and spine of the book in an effort to forget them (and to shield them from my children).
I must say it took me a while to move beyond my biased mentality while reading Fortune’s Son. The opening scene features bawdy gentlemen comparing the assets of their female acquaintances. Main characters Susannah and Philip end up in a lingering lip-lock upon their first meeting. Scandalous and colorful creatures pop up in nearly every chapter. One scene became so pagan and carnal in its nature, I nearly put the book down before the episode was redeemed by Phillip Drake’s virtuous actions.
About midway through the novel, things began to settle a bit and I was able to see beyond the contaminating cover art. Emery Lee has retained her excellent writing style, doing her homework on the Georgian period’s social customs and exhibiting her knowledge of betting tables, cards and other games of chance. Much like her knowledge of the horsing world, she shows her readers the excitements and pitfalls of gambling and risking one’s fortune with Lady Luck. Her story became more about her characters and their fates and not just about passions and their fulfillments.
Ultimately, Fortune’s Son was above the cover art that was chosen for its binding. I cannot say that it was my favorite book of the year, but I’m pleased that the story proved to be better than I’d expected. I still keep Emery Lee as an admired author, and I hope Fortune’s Son is not only popular enough to justify further printings (and therefore would have the chance to be repackaged), but also enough to land Ms. Lee another writing contract. I hold out hope to enjoy her next novel.
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I'm not able to host book giveaways as often as I'd like, mostly because of the cost involved in shipping. I also do not believe in selling or profiting from the distribution of advanced copies (ARCs). If you'd like to have my ARC of Fortune's Son, feel free to contact me. If you will cover the cost of shipping, I'd be happy to send it to you at no additional charge. This paragraph will be removed from this post if such an arrangement is reached.
"True vice, my lady, would frighten us all, if it did not wear the mask of virtue." (p.56)