Ms. Kearsley returns to tales of Jacobites in exhale with “A Desperate Fortune”. Once again, we see two time periods expertly woven together to form a larger picture, one which chronicles 18th-century Mary Dundas, her unexpected exploits in service to the “king over the sea”, and the diary in cipher that she leaves behind. In the parts that take place in the present, Sara, a woman with Asperger’s Syndrome, struggles to find her niche as someone who struggles socially and romantically but has a keen ability to solve puzzles and ciphers. Sara has been hired by an author to decode Mary’s diary in order to get a “day in the life” peek into the time period, but what she finds instead is a thriller-like story of adventure, danger, and love.
This book had Ms. Kearsley’s usual mix of past and present, two parallel love stories, and the focus on Jacobites in exile. I enjoyed seeing the story through the prism of Sara’s disorder, as it makes her quite a unique character. Those of us with little experience of autism spectrum disorders marvel at the special gifts these individuals have.
In the present-day story line, Mary’s diary abruptly ends. Those in the present never learn the ending of the tale, but we the readers do. It’s like a secret only a few are privy to. I did miss the magical elements that appear so often in other Kearsley novels, but the coded diary provides a mystique all of its own.
Although not as captivating as “The Firebird”, this is a thoroughly enjoyable tale with Ms. Kearsley’s trademark elements that never fail to pull you in.
Amazon link is here.