A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

Welcome to my review and giveaway for A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley. This unique time-travel mystery/historical romance is the first I have read from this author, and certainly will not be the last.  Also, you can enter the giveaway where you could be one of the five winners to get a Susanna Kearsley prize packs that include copies of all of her backlist books published by Sourcebooks  (that’s 7 titles!)

Book Review:

Such a delicious compilation of events, heroines and romance in this book – while it would seem confusing at first, the voices from each character are clearly delineated and well presented, keeping the dual timelines nicely balanced with intrigue, secrets and interest.

Sara Thomas is a renowned codebreaker, although an amateur, has been hired to unravel the secrets from a journal written by a young woman, Mary, at the center of the Jacobite tumult.  As Sara seeks to translate and find the secrets contained in the journal, Mary’s story comes alive, and a curious parallel of romance encompasses both women.

There is no time travel here, but a dual timeline: Mary’s story is unraveled and presented as we learn of her removal from England to France, when in1732 her brother appears, ostensibly to bring her home. Instead, he involves her in intrigue and danger as he asks her to pose as another man’s sister.  Running from the English authorities, this man is thought to be an avid Jacobite, gathering funds and supporters for the claim of King James to the throne.  Not one to travel alone, this man brings a highlander bodyguard along, Hugh MacPherson.  The connection between Mary and Hugh is a slow-growing one, depicted in subtle glances, touches and looks that define romance and growing affections without overt action.

Meanwhile, in present day as Sara is deciphering the journal in Paris, the owner’s neighbor, Luc Sabran is turning out to be a bit more of a distraction than she would have initially thought.  Interestingly enough, Sara has Asperger’s Syndrome, so much of her understanding of the budding relationship between she and Luc is peppered with idiosyncrasies common to the disorder. This aids in the relationship development, but also shows a unique perspective and approach to relationships, as practiced by Sara.

A bit slow to start, the story picks up in intensity and action in the second half, and pieces start to fall into place with precision.  While I was far more invested in Mary’s story, the tension and danger of her position were always present and well depicted, her character also seemed to develop a bit more.  Present day, the story of Sara was most interesting in her approach to the translation and puzzle solving, with the relationship coming as a secondary highlight, adding another layer of interest to the story.   It takes a bit of time to acclimate to the alternating points of view in this story, from historical to modern with voices that are distinct and uniquely ‘of their time’.

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

Title: A Desperate Fortune
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Published by: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1492602027
Published on: 7 April, 2015
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 517
Audio Length: 7 Hours: 57 minutes
Rated: four-stars
Heat: One FlameOne Flame

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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.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.




About Susanna Kearsley

Susanna Kearsley studied politics and international development at university, and has worked as a museum curator.

Her first novel Mariana won the prestigious Catherine Cookson Literary Prize and launched her writing career. Susanna continued her mix of the historical and paranormal in novels The Splendour Falls, Named of the Dragon, Shadowy Horses and Season of Storms.

Susanna Kearsley also writes classic-style thrillers under the name of Emma Cole.


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