Monday, April 20, 2015

Book Review: A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

Susanna Kearsley has done it again. And it's beautiful and wonderful and all the good things about a book that makes you keep coming back to it over and over. 

Susanna Kearsley is an auto-buy author for me. When a new book of hers comes out, I try to pick it up as quickly as possible and usually devour it in an afternoon. All of her books blend the past and the present in such a way that you feel like you are stepping into the shoes of the characters and experiencing everything that they do.

I'm going to go ahead and tell you...I hate this cover. I feel like it is a cop out. In the book, the outfits and settings are so perfectly described so at least the cover could have incorporated something like that. Instead, it is a generic woman looking at a generic bridge with a sepia tone over it. I understand that it can be difficult to get the right feel for a cover and get exactly what you want but I wanted something more than this.

A Desperate Fortune follows the growth of two women: Sara, an English who struggles with the day to day challenges of living with Asperger's in a society that increasingly demands extroversion and conformity and Mary, a young woman who grew up in France during the Jacobite revolution and finds herself at the center of a covert operation that goes bad quickly.

I absolutely adored Sara. She wants desperately to be normal and she goes with the "Fake it till you make it" mentality when dealing with others. She quit her most recent job because it forced her to work with others instead of working alone which she prefers. After she is given a cipher to crack, Sara is invited to work for an author who has found a very curious diary. The diary is that of Mary Dundas and is written entirely in code. It is supposed to depict the life of an ordinary girl in France but instead, it's the story of a great adventure.

Mary Dundas starts her story by wanting to move back with her family after an invitation from her brother. But her brother has other plans and sends her to be a tool in trying to protect a fugitive from England that is a sympathizer to the Jacobite cause. Mary tries to play her role perfectly but things quickly go south and she finds herself traversing the country with a quiet and intimidating Scotsman, a charming Englishman, and a chaperon. Their journey is perilous and forces Mary to abandon her ideals of living a peaceful life with her brother's family and stand up for herself.

The romances are lovely in this book.

Sara always pushes away her love interests and is content with being solitary for the rest of her life. She has accepted it and it's okay. Then she meets Luc Sabran who sneaks through the cracks in the walls she has built. He is patient and kind which is exactly what she needs in her life. Sara wants calm and steady and that is what he offers.

And Hugh MacPherson...

I have to say that he is my favorite hero that Kearsley has written so far. Yes, he bumped Rob off the top. He is so wonderfully written, it is amazing. Hugh is cold, removed, strong, stubborn, and all of the things you want/don't want in a damaged man. He just wants to keep everybody safe and do his job but the close quarters between Hugh and Mary force them to try to get along and help each other. Mary is originally terrified of him but it grows to respect and admiration in such a natural way that it is perfectly believable.

The historical aspects of this book are on point, as per usual. This author loves this particular period in French and Scottish history and has done a great job of tying in the history with the romance. The outfits are period appropriate, the manner of speaking, and she obviously does her research. I love well planned books. They make my heart soar.

Characters from the author's other novels make cameos which is fun in many ways. I like seeing that all the stories are tied together in some way. However, it can get a bit tiring. You have to remember their stories and make those connections and sometimes it can be annoying.

There are 3 reasons that this isn't a 5 star book for me:

1) The cover - not relevant to anything. Just a sepia tone of a pretty girl.

2) The ending for Sara was too abrupt and I hated how it concluded way before Mary's story.

3) The beginning was a bit slow. It was like the story had to gear up a bit before it got going. But if you're patient, it's entirely worth it.

So yeah...another wonderful book from this author. It's such a fine and lovely thing that I couldn't even find gifs for it.

I'm still basking in book afterglow here.

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