‘Fortune’s Son’ by Emery Lee

FS ELSTORY: 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…

REVIEW: This book has been on my wish list and TBR for a year now and the only reason for it was its cover. I mean, just look at it! I also liked the blurb for it, although once I read the book, I was amazed how inadequate it was. Another thing I found out as I finished the book was that ‘Fortune’s Son’ is a sequel to ‘The Highest Stakes’ and finally things in the middle of the story made more sense. Needless to say, I am now compelled to read the first book and highly recommend you read it in order because the author only glossed over some of the very important and crucial events. If the author repeated those events verbatim from ‘The Highest Stakes’ this book could have been better understood and enjoyed by this reader.

The story opens up with our hero in his thirties, with a hangover after his huge loss on the racing track, and now trying to once again come up with money to pay his debts. And while he’s arranging the sale of some horse-flesh, someone in his company mentions the name of Susannah, Lady Messingham, and off into memory lane goes our hero.

We are now meeting Philip Drake at age twenty, a second son of the Earl of Hastings. He is handsome, full of life and devilry, charming and doesn’t give a damn about his ruthless father or half-brother. He hasn’t seen them in years and refuses to live off of his family’s money. His quick wit and talent at dice and cards are the only means of his support while awaiting his mother’s legacy left to him when he turns twenty-one.

Susannah, Lady Messingham, is a twenty-eight year old widow that has money troubles of her own and as she spots young Philip at play, decides that he just might help her out by tutoring her in gaming. At first, Philip isn’t so enthusiastic about her proposal, but the chemistry they share from the start is something he’s willing to explore.

As they embark on this journey of mutual need, neither is aware that their relationship would go through the highest of the highs and lowest of the lows and have their love tested over and over.

As I read this story, watching Philip’s life go from heartache to heartache, I kept thinking that he must have been cursed from the moment he was born and my heart just went out to him.

Emery Lee, with her unprecedented and meticulous research of history, gaming and horse racing in Georgian era England, made this story play out like an epic movie in my mind’s eye. Her characterization of Philip and Susannah was impeccable and their love as it spanned a decade will touch your heart.

For a high drama, passion spanning a decade, revenge and redemption of both hero and heroine, this is one book that is a must read, BUT only if you read the first book before this one.

*Book purchased through Amazon.

‘The Forgiven Duke’ by Jamie Carie

TFD JCSTORY: Tethered by her impulsive promise to marry Lord John Lemon – the path of least resistance – Alexandria Featherstone sets off toward Iceland in search of her parents with a leaden heart. A glimpse of her guardian, the Duke of St. Easton – the path less traveled by – on Dublin’s shore still haunts her.

Will he come after her? Will he drag her back to London, quelling her mission to rescue her treasure-seeking parents, or might he decide to throw caution to the wind and choose Foy Pour Devoir: “Faith for Duty,” the St. Easton motto. The Featherstone motto Valens et Volens: “Willing and Able,” beats in her heart and thrums through her veins. She will find her parents and find their love, no matter the cost.

The powerful yet wing-clipped Duke of St. Easton has never known the challenge that has become his life since hearing his ward’s name. Alexandria Featherstone will be the life or the death of him. Only time and God’s plan will reveal just how much this man can endure for the prize of love.

REVIEW: First, there are three books in this series and none are stand alone. Once you’re done reading the first, which ends with a cliffhanger, you have to go to the second and third to find out what happens next.

This is the second book of this series and it starts off right at the ‘cliffhanger’ of the first one as the Duke catches the glimpse of his charge and a man she’s with on the ship bound to Iceland, of whose destination, or for that matter the man’s identity, the Duke is unaware of and must now find out.

Let me start by saying that I just loved the first book, ‘The Guardian Duke’, very much and thought it such a clever ending, albeit very frustrating because there was no happy ending for our Duke and his charge.

As I kept reading this book, the only thing I felt was irritation at the heroine for her indecision about the two men she’s deliberately and stubbornly dangling on a string.

I also felt that what seemed a clever idea to end the first one with a cliffhanger, now rendered the second book less relevant and reduced it as ‘filler’ until the third came along and tied it all together.

As for the characters, and I am including everyone  here, they all now felt forced and placed in situations that were unbelievable and uncharacteristic of their own selves.

In all honesty this second book was riddled with plot holes and I should have hoped that the Editors would have pointed it out to the author. Ms. Carie without a doubt has a talent for storytelling, but it definitely needs some ‘tuning’ and ‘tweaking’.

Now of to the third one and my hope is that the last one is more in tune with the first book…

*Book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.