Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: The Highest Stakes by Emery Lee

The Highest Stakes was a diversion in historical reading. The backdrop of horse racing was new territory for me, but curiosity about the sport in the 18 century, and one of my favorite romance tropes - star crossed lovers - sold me on the story before I ever opened the book.

Charlotte Wallace was a lonely 13 year old orphan taken in by her uncle and his family when she met stable boy Robert Devington. The two formed a bond through horses and horse racing, and over the years, fell in love.

Now of marriageable age, Robert and Charlotte want nothing more than to marry, but Charlotte's Uncle refuses to be persuaded in the matter. To Charles Wallace, Robert is not good enough for Charlotte because he has no assets to bring into a marriage and Charles is set on making a gainful match for himself through Charlotte's marriage.

As fate would have it, Charlotte and Robert are separated. Charlotte is forced into a life she doesn't want, and Robert loses everything and must start over from the bottom. While Charlotte tries to make the most out of what life has given her, Robert refuses to let things remain as they stand. He puts his all into training a small horse that is his last hope at correcting the wrongs that have unjustly befallen him.

The Highest Stakes was a lively read. The horse riding details were woven so seamlessly into the story that I was able to understand and appreciate its influence on the characters and the romance. It took me a while to warm to Robert and Charlotte, I think because of the 18th century language threw me a little, but after getting used to the language and delving into the back stories, I came to root them on and hope for their happily ever after.

Undying love, deceit, greed and retribution fuel Emery Lee's debut novel. I look forward to seeing what else this talented author has to offer. Grade B+

Visit Emery Lee here. Read chapter one here.

Review based on ARC copy from Sourcebooks.