Sunday, April 25, 2010

Book Review of The Highest Stakes by Emery Lee

The Highest Stakes
The blurb:
She's lonely and neglected, but she knows horses. . . Charlotte Wallace is orphaned and alone until a sympathetic stable boy takes her under his wing and teaches her everything about thoroughbred racing. In the process, the two discover in each other a love destined to be thwarted at every turn.

If only he could, he'd take her away with him forever. . . Robert Devington has tried everything to persuade Charlotte's uncle to allow them to marry. Then an ill-fated friendship, a scandal in the making, and one desperate act of folly rob them of their love and his livelihood. . .

Dead set on retribution, all Robert's hopes are hanging on one small horse -- his only chance to reclaim his land, his dignity, and his love, against all odds. . . .

Emery Lee's The Highest Stakes opens at the races in Litchfield, Staffordshire in 1742. It's at this race that we're introduced to the characters that shape the novel. The race is for untried horses - those who have yet to win a race. Sir Garfield Wallace, a merchant who recently rose to the gentry, and an avid turf follower entered the gray mare White Rose ("Rosie") in the first race. But on the day of the race, the Wallaces are running late and the jockey, Sir Garfield's son Charles won't make it in time. The race is limited to gentlemen jockeys: no professional jockeys are allowed -- the horses must be ridden by the owner or a member of his family. Robert Devington who has worked for Sir Garfield as a trainer, jockey, and all around problem solver decides to take a dangerous risk and claims a relationship to the Wallace family in order to keep Rosie from forfeiting the race. Devington handles Rosie brilliantly though he wins the Wallaces considerable status, he finds himself shut out once again.

Though much in love with Charlotte Wallace, Sir Garfield's niece, Robert decides that the best way to win her hand is to break away from the Wallaces and to make his own fortune. Robert enlists in the King's Horse. Robert Devington proves his mettle and somehow Robert's commanding officer, Captain Drake, becomes Robert's mentor and closest friend.

Robert and Drake find themselves closely allied as they woo Sir Garfield's niece and daughter respectively. But romance, intrigue, and social ambition keep the lovers apart -- and make The Highest Stakes a fascinating and unusual read.

In The Highest Stakes, the horse racing and breeding are more than a backdrop for the action and romance. It's the horses and those that breed, race and love them that give The Highest Stakes its unique and strong charm. I've loved horses and riding since I was young, but I think most animal lovers and lovers of historical fiction will find The Highest Stakes to be an engrossing and satisfying read.

ISBN-10: 1402236425 - Paperback $15.99
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark; 1 edition (April 1, 2010), 560 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Emery Lee is a lifelong equestrienne, a history buff, and a born romantic. Combine the three, and you have the essence of her debut novel, an epic of love, war, and horse racing. A member of RWA and GRW, she resides in Upstate South Carolina with her husband, sons, and two horses.

Thank you so much to Danielle and SourceBooks for this review opportunity!

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