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Read online or Download Fortune's Son (Full PDF ebook with essay, research paper)
by Emery Lee


Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402256448
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
11/01/2011
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
448
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.40(d)

Overview

 

She is the ultimate gamble...

Beautiful young widow Susannah, Lady Messingham, refuses to belong to any man again. Until she inadvertently draws handsome Lord Philip Drake into an exhilarating game of terrifying stakes and unimaginable rewards...

And he'll risk everything on a toss of the dice...

Philip is a seasoned gambler who knows all the tricks and isn't afraid to use them. He'd do anything for Susannah, including sacrificing his honor and his freedom...

Praise for The Highest Stakes:

"A sweeping tale of romance, betrayal, intrigue, and the power of true love." — RT Book Reviews

"Compelling...Allow yourself to be transported." — The Racing Journal

"Brava to Ms. Lee on a brilliant first novel. Well-rounded characters, excellent research, realistic dialogue, and a unique plot." — Romance Reviews Today

"Lee writes beautifully and passionately ... the plot moves at a rapid clip with extraordinary twists and turns, leaving the reader wanting to know more." — Rundpinne

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lee (The Highest Stakes) returns to the world of Georgian London's gamblers with this scanty romance. Susannah, the widowed Lady Messingham, needs money. Her options are gambling, tutored by dashing gamester Philip Drake, and becoming the odious Prince of Wales's mistress. The choice is obvious, and the attraction between Sukey and Philip sizzles, but the two goad each other into one terrible decision after another. Lee heaps on historical detail (and cussing of the "filthy sodding whoreson" variety) at the expense of story; a subplot involving Philip's sexless marriage, which could have filled its own book, is crammed into a handful of pages, while a bishop interrupts Sukey's humble confession of adultery to praise Westminster Abbey's architecture at Wikipedia-esque length. Readers will likely give up on pathetic Philip and sulky Sukey long before they find their roundabout way to a semblance of a happy ending. (Nov.)

Related Subjects

  • ">Historical Romance - Other

    Read an Excerpt

     

    Prologue

    Newmarket, 1751

    Philip Drake, Earl of Hastings, awoke to the cockerel's crow with the anguish of a thousand anvils ringing in his head. He shifted in his chair with a groan, his entire body feeling as if it had been pummeled. He blinked in confusion at the shambles of his surrounds. Broken glass covered the flagstones. His coat, cravat, and tie wig littered the floor.

    When he inhaled, his stomach lurched from the pungent odor of brandy that had, since last evening, lost even the faintest appeal. He realized he'd never made it to his bed after—now regrettably—having knocked back nearly a full bottle of his favorite poison.

    He shook his head to clear the cobwebs, but gasped, seizing it between tremulous hands, as the demons gleefully struck their hammers anew. Holding his body completely inert, he shut his eyes again, waiting for the reverberations to subside. The broken glass, the spilled brandy, all bore witness that it had not been just some ghastly dream. The entire scene of the day before replayed itself in his throbbing head.

    He thoughtfully considered how little he knew of his nemesis. Why had Roberts challenged him? Why had he not dropped his gauntlet before another noted turf man? March, Portmore, Hamilton, or certainly Devonshire, could have covered such a wager with barely a dent in their coffers. Had he been singled out? He laughed bitterly to think a man of his vast experience of the world could have been so completely gulled.

    Having no answers to these questions, he resolved to address the immediate problem of money, or, better said, the lack thereof. He sat behind his desk to compose two missives, the first to the mysterious Roberts, with the hope of buying some time, and the second to the Duke of Cumberland, who had long coveted the Hastings's brood mares. He signed and sanded the billets, impressing the wax seal with his signet, and then rang for a footman to dispatch them.

    By an unwritten code, a gentleman must settle his debt of honor promptly. An obligation of this magnitude might be granted three days' grace, but even with such a reprieve, calamity hung like a noose about his neck.

    With a groan, he raked his hands through already disheveled hair, racking his brain in desperation to find some way out of this morass of... he finally admitted... his own damned making.

    ***

    Midafternoon saw a speedy reply from the Duke of Cumberland, with a summons to Palace House. Philip knew it impolitic to refuse a royal invitation, though his mood was far removed from roistering with the duke and his racing cronies.

    These votaries of the turf included the Dukes of Grafton, Bedford, Devonshire, and Ancaster, Lords Portmore and Chedworth, Sir John Moore, Captain Vernon, and others. The duke's cabal included some of the most powerful and influential men in the land, the horse racing, wine-tippling, debauching men-about-town who referred to themselves as the "Jockey Club."

    Philip endured the hours-long bacchanal filled with ribbing over his defeat nursing his port, while bumper after bumper was tossed to the health of king and present company. After the mandatory salutes, dozens of bottles followed suit, swiftly emptied in inebriated encomiums to the swiftest horses and the fastest women.

    While Lord Coventry extolled the alabaster skin of Miss Maria Gunning, the Duke of Hamilton followed with words of veneration for the statuesque figure of her sister Elizabeth. Lord Portmore marveled at the lively eyes of Mrs. George Pitt, until the toastmasters, with wigs now askew, cravats dangling, and waistcoats unbuttoned, finally degenerated into vulgar tributes to their mistresses and other "frail beauties."

    "To the fair Fanny Murray," spoke Sir Richard Atkins, raising his glass in a poetic declamation. "A salute to a whore be only a farce, lest it praise milky white tits and a plump, ripe arse."

    "Hear! Hear!" The room roared. Glasses clinked. Wine sloshed.

    Rising in the spirit of one-upmanship, Captain Vernon followed with a lascivious leer, "To our lewd Lucy Cowper, pray she ne'er gets the pox, our purses would be fuller, but withered our cocks."

    "Now there's a bloody poet for you!" The room rang with ribald guffaws.

    "Alexander Pope may rest undisturbed," Philip remarked wryly to Sir John Moore, who was eager to join the debate whether Lucy Cowper, Fanny Murray, or Nancy Parsons should wear the crown as London's most coveted courtesan.

    "Order! Order!" cried Sir John, rising from his seat and declaring in stentorian tones, "With such a dispute in the house, I move for a divide."

    Philip's mind was far from the raucous revelry. Cumberland had purchased the mares. Although he knew he need not long await the duke's gold, it would still not be enough. Even full dispersal of the remaining racing stock might only bring half the sum he required to settle his immediate debts if his multifarious creditors were to call in his loans. His finances were already balanced as precariously as a house of cards, and one small breath of scandal over the racing wager would be enough to blow it all to hell.

    Philip was pulled abruptly from his morose cogitations by the unexpected arrival of Prince Frederick. "Gentlemen, I am moved to forestall these proceedings."

    "Insufferable prig," Cumberland murmured under his breath, but not quite low enough.

    The prince scowled at his brother, the duke. "If you gentlemen are naming the toast of London, you overlook a most exquisite specimen of womanhood."

    "Mayhap the Lady Hamilton?" someone sniggered. "He has certainly examined that specimen at close range."

    Ignoring the remark, the prince took up his glass and cast a pointed look in Lord Hastings's direction. "This lady of whom I speak is a nonpareil, the epitome of ageless grace and beauty. I nominate Susannah, Lady Messingham."

    Turning to Philip, Sir John remarked, "How now, Hastings? It appears word travels fast. Whilst the duke may covet only your horses, 'twould appear our worthy prince would have your mistress."

     



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