Friday, April 17, 2015

Susanna Kearsley - A Desperate Fortune spotlight + giveaway

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley is a story within a story. The historical suspense novel blends the modern day story of computer programmer Sara Thomas and Jacobite exile Mary Dundas.

Sara has been hired by an author to break the code of a research document. She travels to France and discovers that the document is Mary Dundas's journal from 1732 written in cipher.

This is the first novel of Susanna Kearlsey that I have read. I enjoyed the dual storylines and was absorbed by the historical elements to the story. I was immediately drawn to Mary's story as she began her adventure. The first part of the book provided much historical information and was a bit slow paced. The information is necessary to appreciate the characters of Sara and Mary and the history of the exiled King James VIII and his followers.

As Sara translates the diary, it is apparent that Mary longs for adventure and to be reunited with her family. Mary's brother and his friend ask her if she would like to help the King. She would need to travel to Paris and act as someone's sister. They neglect to tell Mary that the man she is helping to shelter is a criminal sought by the English Government for embezzlement. I enjoyed how the author combined the 1731 London stock market scandal with Mary and Sara's story. Mary, who was chaperoned by Madame Roy, was posing as the embezzler John Thomson sister in Paris. The group is discovered and are forced to flee Paris and make their way to Rome with the help of Hugh MacPherson.

Mary's diary is a journal of the group's adventures as they travel to the exiled King's court in Rome. The group must change plans several times as they are being followed. Sara is frustrated because Mary changes her cipher pattern in the journal. She wonders what caused the change and and works to solve the code. Sara becomes involved with Mary's journey and begins one of her own as the story progresses. Both characters desired love and neither thought it possible. Mary's journal ties both the modern and historical elements of the story together. The blend of historical drama and intrigue kept me reading this book well past my bedtime. I enjoyed the ending of the story immensely as it brought tears to my eyes.

Susanna Kearsley includes an About the Characters section at the end of the book which is a must read and it provides insight as to her characters and the stock scandal and the court of James VIII.

I have copies of The Winter Sea and The Rose Garden on my kindle and look forward to reading them.

Reviewed by Susan Gorman 
ARC provided by: Sourcebooks.

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

For nearly three hundred years, the cryptic journal of Mary Dundas has lain unread. Now, amateur code breaker Sara Thomas has been sent to Paris to crack the cipher.

Jacobite exile Mary Dundas is filled with longing—for freedom, for adventure, for the family she lost. When fate opens the door, Mary dares to set her foot on a path far more surprising and dangerous than she ever could have dreamed.

As Mary’s gripping tale is revealed, Sara is faced with challenges that will require letting go of everything she thought she knew—about herself, about loyalty, and especially about love. Though divided by centuries, these two women will be united in a quest to discover the limits of trust and the coincidences of fate.

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Susanna Kearsley is known for her meticulous research and exotic settings from Russia to Italy to Cornwall, which not only entertain her readers but give her a great reason to travel. Her lush writing has been compared to Mary Stewart, Daphne du Maurier, and Diana Gabaldon. She hit the bestseller lists in the U.S. with The Firebird (a RITA winner) as well as, The Winter Sea and The Rose Garden (both RITA finalists and winners of RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards). Other honors include National Readers' Choice Awards, the prestigious Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize, and finaling for the UK's Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Her popular and critically acclaimed books are available in translation in more than 20 countries and as audiobooks. She lives in Canada, near the shores of Lake Ontario.



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