A DESPERATE FORTUNE by Susanna Kearsley
9781492602026 * $16.99/TP * ON-SALE: April 7, 2015
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.
New 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.
Sourcebooks is offering 10 readers the chance to attend a LIVE online event with Susanna Kearsley. To enter, find the HIDDEN MESSAGE within the excerpt below and use it to crack the SECRET CODE. Email the correct answer to email@example.com. Winners will be announced on March 20th.
Excerpt from A Desperate Fortune:
My cousin often said that men were clueless, and in this instance that seemed to be the case. If Luc thought it was normal for his ex-wife to arrange for him to meet me, clearly he had not shared my experience with couples who’d divorced. Even Jacqui, who’d be happy not to be in the same time zone as her exes, kept a faintly jealous eye on all their new associations, and she never would have volunteered them to chauffeur another woman.
Luc was waiting.
“Never mind,” I said. “It doesn’t matter.”
Usually, if I were honest, I did feel uncomfortable in cars I wasn’t used to, though this morning in Denise’s car I had been too distracted by her driving speed to notice. And as I settled now into the passenger seat of Luc’s car while he swung my door closed and walked round to his own, I felt a sense of the familiar that distracted me as well, until I put my finger on its cause.
“Is this a Peugeot 207?” I asked him as he slid behind the steering wheel.
“It is. An old one, though. 2009.”
That would explain things. I nodded and said, “Jacqui’s second ex-husband had one of these, only his was a coupe cabriolet, not a hatchback.”
“I wanted that one, too.” Luc smiled as he released the handbrake. “But Noah was still small and there was no place for his car seat.”
As we moved off from the curb I cast a glance into the back and saw a child’s booster seat. “How old is Noah now?”
“He’s nine years old. Nine and two-thirds, if you ask him.” He had seen what I was looking at. “When he turns ten he plans to set that booster seat on fire, I think. He knows it is the law for him to use it, but he hates it.”
So then Noah was a law-abiding rebel. Like his father, I decided, for although Luc drove with care he had a sure touch with the gear lever that made me think he would have much preferred an open road where he could shift into top gear straightaway instead of being trapped within these winding streets that slowed his speed.
He was wearing jeans again today. I liked his legs in jeans, though in the confines of the car their muscled length was stretched so close to mine I had to force my gaze elsewhere to keep from staring.
[WIN a chance to attend a LIVE online event with Susanna Kearsley! To enter, go to this link and find the preview chapters posted there. Break the code: 8.24.9 and email the correct word to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
We were crossing the bridge now, and leaving the chateau behind.
“Does she have very many ex-husbands, your cousin?” he asked.
“Only two. They were both very difficult men.”
“This is why she is able to take on such difficult authors,” he guessed, “like this Alistair Scott. Denise tells me that he and Claudine have a history.”
Not knowing the details, I didn’t have any real comment on that. But, “I wouldn’t say Alistair’s difficult, really. He’s just very focused. That’s not a bad thing, for a researcher.”
“No.” I felt Luc’s sideways glance. “No, it isn’t.”
We drove for a moment in silence, until something struck me.
“Why Wednesdays?” I asked.
“Why do you work from home Wednesdays?”
He paused as though having to search back in our conversation to find the stray comment he’d made that had led to my question. “Oh. Noah still has Wednesday afternoons off, so it’s necessary.”
I had a vague and distant memory of my childhood friend and neighbor, Ricky, when he’d moved across from France, complaining that in Britain he was made to go to school on Wednesdays, so I gathered it was normal here for schoolchildren to have a midweek holiday. But Luc was talking as though Noah lived with him all week, not just at every other weekend, and that seemed to me less normal. It was probably rude just to ask, I knew, but curiosity outweighed my manners. “So, where does your son live? With you, or Denise?”
“We share custody. Alternate weeks. We switch over on Mondays. It’s becoming more common in France, this arrangement,” he said. “It’s better for Noah, I think. And for us. You don’t have children?”
“No.” I’d have found it much easier winning my battle to not watch his legs if they hadn’t been constantly working the clutch and the gas pedals as he changed gears, but I managed to pull my gaze up in time to catch his small shrug.
“They take work, they keep you busy.” Once again he briefly looked in my direction, this time with a smile, and added, “Noah more than most. You’ll likely have him underfoot when he discovers what you’re doing. He’ll think code breaking is cool—he’ll want to help you.”
I returned the smile to be polite, and looked away. I didn’t dislike children, but I wasn’t all that keen on being “helped” by one. And when it came to something like the breaking of a cipher, there was no real help a nine-year-old could give me.
Or at least, that’s what I thought on Wednesday afternoon. By Thursday night, on New Year’s Eve, I’d learned that I was wrong.