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Publisher's Summary

Beloved New York Times best-selling author Susanna Kearsley delivers a riveting novel that deftly intertwines the tales of two women, divided by centuries and forever changed by a clash of love and fate.

For nearly 300 years, the cryptic journal of Mary Dundas has kept its secrets. Now, amateur codebreaker Sara Thomas travels 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 of rebellion and betrayal is revealed to her, Sara faces events in her own life that require letting go of everything she thought she knew - about herself, about loyalty, and especially about love. Though divided by centuries, these two women are united in a quest to discover the limits of trust and the unlikely coincidences of fate.

©2015 Susanna Kearsley (P)2015 Audible Inc.

Featured Article: A Love Story for the Ages—The Best Historical Romance Audiobooks of All Time


Audiobooks are an ideal way to explore the historical romance genre, especially when you’re guided by a talented narrator. There is nothing like witty banter, (im)perfect manners, and veiled flirtation cleverly performed by skilled voices to entertain and enliven the experience. The different time periods add a richness to the settings and an extra layer of discovery and delight. Here are some of the best historical romance novels that truly sing in audio.

What listeners say about A Desperate Fortune

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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Story
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Sublime

Not too much, too little and lives in my heart, as the story became real to the author, both of the real life events told, and the imaginings in the authors mind as her narrator explains at the end. The narrator was incredible. Not written from one perspective, she manages to tell the tale and bring you in on more than one level. Not as a young woman, but as a watcher and teller of tales. A definite nod to the lead character that shares stories.

The heroine in our time, and I'm not giving anything away, is on the Autism Spectrum with Asperger's. I don't know how she got it so correct, but my son with moderate autism listened to this story, in part with me, and said, "that's what I do! That's how I feel!" It was not only a good explanation for me, but a breakthrough for him, he is thirteen, and now he wishes to learn to speak French and understand history. Brilliant.

That the author took a chance on one of her main characters having Asperger's and her deep empathy, with an impartiality that says she understands it, and that her publisher put this lovely story for publication, says remarkable things about all. The main character in our timeline, is just so well written, so explanatory, so dead on without being a caricature, makes me want to know more about Susanna Kearsley's real life and how she managed this. I was blown away.

I am enchanted by Susanna Kearsley's books and have never been disappointed. I cannot recommend this book more highly.

47 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Suggestion to listen with volume low & treble off

Any additional comments?

As kindly as possible, I would like to suggest the listener to turn the low and the treble off. The reason being Katherine, the narrator, in all respect for her art and hard work, reflects the chance she may have a full time tour guide position when not recording audiobooks. It would be such a benefit to narrate in her normal voice for the main character and use very gentle accents for those characters not British. Perhaps she is trying to depict the main character as a high-strung person who also happens to have a touch of Asperger's Syndrome, as described in the book. Respectfully, the constant tension and effort in speaking, as if accustomed to speaking in a higher-than-normal pitch to be heard over a noisy crowd, makes listening to her a great annoyance and I will refrain from purchasing another book with her narration. It pains me to speak so, but it truly bothers me enough to have to write this in a review in an effort to help further decision-making. My apologies for any offense, which will probably occur; my advise is well-meant.

110 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Maybe better as a read, than a listen

I'm on a Scottish tangent right now... I read "Outlander" which was written beautifully and I enjoyed the history... but it was way too heavy on the romance for me. Then came "Winter Sea" by Kearsley, it was perfect and I loved the history in it. I snatched up "Desperate Fortune" expecting more of the same.

Honestly, I think the story was well written, the parallel lives of two women are woven together with one in the present decoding the journal of the one in the past... both experiencing similar situations. I loved the accurate historical fiction of the past part of it, but didn't like being snatched away from my favored past story and back into the present.

My complaint is with the narration. Katherine Kellgren is perfect in "The Royal Spyness" series where I envision the characters fitting the voices she uses. In this book I found myself flat out angry with her for ruining the story with prissy, forced and overdone voices. True the many characters, languages and accents in this book had to be challenging and she did settle down towards the end... but this is a book I would prefer to read rather than listen to again. So glad to have her out of my ear and wishing it was Davina Porter instead.

This book doesn't leave you dangling at a precipice, although it is clear there will be another journal to decode with the rest of the story of both women. It is a romance, but like "Winter Sea" it is light... definately a "chick lit" type of book.

86 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Exceptional story from an exceptional writer

I love this author's attention to detail and the way she surprises her readers with overlapping cameo appearances of characters from past stories. I fell in love with the characters from The Winter Sea. I followed them into Firebird. Now I got surprised by a guest appearance in this book from some of the characters from Firebird. These books are not part of a series, to my knowledge, but they read as if they are. In this way, the author shares a nugget of a mystery with her adoring fans--all of us who come to love her characters as she did.

The research undertaken by this writer to recreate an accurate picture of the characters and their time period is amazing. The author reads widely and visits locations to truly know what she is talking about. Her modern day characters in her stories mirror her own steps to unlock and tell the stories of the past.

I am in awe and anxiously await her next book.

As for the narrator of this story, I must say she is quite talented. Not only does she skillfully transfer between male and female voices, but she does so in various languages and dialects. Her inflections are spot on to let you feel the emotions of the lines. It was an added treat to already be acquainted with her from a previous book, Firebird.

Well done by all!

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great Story, Jarring Narration

What made the experience of listening to A Desperate Fortune the most enjoyable?

I love Susanna Kearsley's work - but this title has been ruined by a very jarring narrator. I could not settle down and enjoy - had to shut it off. So disappointed.

41 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

A complete waste of valuable book listening time.

The narration was horrible - melodramatic and almost comical attempts at dialogue and accent.
I love historical fiction, but this was nothing more than a "romance" novel with no real context and setting of the historical times nor for that matter any real plot. Nor was the characterization of someone with Asperger's believable. I have read this author before but this was a real disappointment.
The only reason I did not the story one star was that the writing was lyrical at times.

12 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic!

Fantastic!!! I don't give 5 stars lightly. With one exception, I've loved all Susanna Kearsley's books. This is one of the great ones.

Synopses are readily available so let me just say that the characters are very interesting. Mary and Sara are great heroines. A code maker and a code breaker make for a terrific story. Switching back and forth between time periods is done very well. And the Jacobite period is a favorite of mine and there's accurate history in this book. (The Author's Note at the end is very in-depth and the end is amazing.)

Katherine Kellgren is the narrator of another of my favorite series and, at first, it was hard for me to put those books out of my mind as I heard Kellgren's voices here (which she differentiates VERY well.) But she does another stellar job with this book.

The story slows down just a bit in the middle but comes back strongly. I highly recommend this book and congratulate the author on another winner!

6 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Ugh!

I honestly can't decide which is worse; the story or the narrator. I have three hours left in this book and I just don't think I can finish it. It's like a chore listening to this. The story just meanders and goes on and on with pointless details and discussions. The narrator does a decent job and the array of accents but her narration style and excessive volume at times is grating. I really liked The Address by Kearsley but this story is not executed well. I find that I am just not interested in or rooting for any of the characters in this book.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Couldn't finish.

If you have sensitive ears pass on this one. The narration of this book truly hurt my ears. The narrator's voice, or perhaps it was the mixing, was in a range/frequency that actually gave me ear pain. I have not listened to other books narrated by Ms. Kellgren so, I don't want to say it was her voice alone. She obviously has talent but, the accents were too over-the-top for me and the painful frequency of her voice were so much that I gave up on finishing this one.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wrong Narrator

The narrator for this book was just not the right one and it ruined the wonderful story. I read the book, that is the better way.

11 people found this helpful