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Genre: Historical Fiction
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.
About the AuthorNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Susanna Kearsley is known for her meticulous research and exotic settings from Russia to Italy to Cornwall, which not only entertain her readers but give her a great reason to travel. Her lush writing has been compared to Mary Stewart, Daphne du Maurier, and Diana Gabaldon. She hit the bestseller lists in the U.S. with The Firebird (a RITA winner) as well as, The Winter Sea and The Rose Garden (both RITA finalists and winners of RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards). Other honors include National Readers' Choice Awards, the prestigious Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize, and finaling for the UK's Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Her popular and critically acclaimed books are available in translation in more than 20 countries and as audiobooks. She lives in Canada, near the shores of Lake Ontario.
Excerpt from A Desperate Fortune“Well, I couldn’t do it,” said Jacqui. She took out her hairbrush and sat on the edge of her bed, having dealt with the last button of her pajama top. “If either of my own ex-husbands bought the house next door to mine, I’d kill myself.”
“Denise seems not to mind.”
“I’m only saying.”
I was not about to try debating anything with Jacqui at this hour of the night, not after I’d had rather too much wine, and while I was myself still trying to make sense of what Claudine had told us over dinner about Luc Sabran and why he and Denise had this arrangement.
And my cousin wasn’t leaving any room for me to offer an opinion. “It’s not natural. You can’t be friends with someone you’ve divorced. Not really. I should know.”
I might have pointed out that neither of her exes was as gorgeous as Denise’s, but I only said, “I wonder why they got divorced.”
My cousin told me, “Men like that are rarely faithful.”
“Men like what?”
“You know. You saw him. He was…”
The look she sent me was the one she always used when she was trying to instruct me. “Darling, that man was too masculine,” she said, “to be called beautiful.”
“What would you call him, then?”
“Hot.” Jacqui smiled. “But believe me, he knows it, and men like that aren’t worth your time or your trouble.”
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I knew she was speaking from her own experience, and she was probably right. I’d had relative peace on that front since I’d left university, and I was in no way inclined to revisit the past or repeat my mistakes, but I privately doubted that I could have ever divorced any man who had eyes like that. Whether those doubts showed, I couldn’t be sure, but my cousin said, “Sara.”
“Really, I’m serious. That’s not a rabbit hole you want to tumble down. Don’t get involved.”
“I don’t get involved. And anyway, I’m here to do a job. That is, I think I’m here to do a job.”
“Of course you are.” My cousin set her hairbrush down. “You’re never having second thoughts?”
“Not me. I’m fairly sure Claudine is, though.”
“Why would you say that?”
“You were there. I don’t think I impressed her much at dinner.”
“Nonsense. I thought you did really well at dinner.” Jacqui curled her feet beneath her on the bed and leaning back against her pillows said, “You kept up with the conversation and you didn’t monologue.”
Monologuing was a common habit among those of us with Asperger’s. We could, upon occasion, talk an endless stream without allowing anyone to get a word in edgewise, and not realize it.
“I only monologue when something interests me,” I pointed out. “We were talking about gardening for most of dinner, weren’t we? Not much fear that I would monologue on that.” I could kill plants at fifty paces just by looking at them. “I’d hoped we’d talk about the diary, or about the Jacobites, or something with a point to it. That’s why I’m here. I think she’s changed her mind. I think she—”
“Darling,” Jacqui cut me off, “you worry far too much. We’ve just arrived. I’m sure Claudine assumed you’d want to spend your first night getting settled in and rested up.”
If that had been the reason why Claudine had kept the conversation superficial, there had been no need. “I want to get to work.”
“You want to get some sleep,” my cousin countered with a yawn. And then, because she knew from long experience that I might otherwise stay there indefinitely keeping her from getting sleep, she reached to switch her bedside lamp off, letting the resulting darkness bring our conversation to a close. “Be patient.”