Recent Release Review- A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

Title: A Desperate Fortune

A Desperate Fortune

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

Author: Susanna Kearsley

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark, April 7, 2015

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 5+

Sexy Rating: 3

Description from

For nearly three hundred years, the cryptic journal of Mary Dundas has kept its secrets. Now, amateur codebreaker Sara Thomas travels 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 of rebellion and betrayal is revealed to her, Sara faces events in her own life that require letting go of everything she thought she knew-about herself, about loyalty, and especially about love. Though divided by centuries, these two women are united in a quest to discover the limits of trust and the unlikely coincidences of fate.


Mary Dundas starts out on this 1732, adventurous journey an innocent, sheltered, naive young woman.  She is not a stranger to heartbreak having her father and brothers leave her with family when she was young. When she accepts the challenge to help the Jacobite King she does so with a touch of anxiety but feeling also she will be of service.  Her brother Nicholas does not really give her a choice. On this assignment she meets Thomson who is on the run from the English Parliament for fraud, MacPherson who is a body guard and Effie who is to be her chaperone. Some characters that Ms. Kearsley explains in an afterward are historically accurate. Adventure and danger are around every corner but MacPherson manages to protect the small group through the journey.

Sara Thomas, who is decoding Mary’s diary in the present day, has Asperger’s Syndrome and is fully aware that she does not have the ability to read others’ feelings accurately. So she has difficulty understanding her own feelings toward a new friend. But Sara’s budding romance also confounds her since she has become very friendly with “his” ex-wife.  Sara cannot understand how they can remain good friends.

I could say so much more about the story but truly it is all exquisite! There is no other way to describe this book.  Oh, yes, I could say that the narrative is well paced, the romance slow building, the plot riveting, the characterization well developed but that all evolves into “exquisite”.  This book contains the most romantic declaration of love I’ve yet to read in any novel. I’ll say no more about that so I don’t spoil it for you. Because I do expect that you will move mountains if necessary to read this one.

Susanna Kearsley has written other novels centering on the Jacobites or this late 17th and early 18th century time period.  They are all well written page turners, as are her Time Travel novels. I highly recommend them.

  1. The Winter Sea
  2. The Rose Garden
  3. The Shadowy Horses
  4. Mariana
  5. The Firebird

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Filed under Book review, Books, Favorites, Historical Fiction, Romance

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