We all know that the second we pick up a book we start to judge it; unfortunate, but true. That doesn't mean we start to judge whether it's going to be good or bad, but what kind of book it's going to be, whether we want to read it, now or later. These first initial thoughts are not always accurate, but we continue to do it. When I first picked up Fortune's Son by Emery Lee, for some reason I ended up opening the last few pages first. What I discovered was a bibliography. Huh? This is a work of fiction, why is there a bibliography? Then I went to the front of the book. Wow, a table of contents too. Above and beyond those two things, the book was broken into three parts. Really? At that point, my brain just went a little wonky, so I set the book down and decided to pick it up after my first impressions settled.
Despite giving myself the time to give the book a fair chance, the book ended up being pretty much what I expected, which was more of a history lesson than a book of fiction. Every five to ten pages there were little snippets of history that were done in enough detail to be considered a school lesson. It's incredibly difficult to get lost in a fictional world when I kept feeling like there was going to be a quiz at the end.
Leaving the historical content of the book behind, let's take a look at the storyline and the characters.
Phillip Drake and Lady Susannah Messingham have a chance meeting over a gaming table. Once they meet they have a hard time keeping away from each other. Although both have ulterior motives to continuing their relationship, it's also their unexplainable attraction that keeps them coming back for more.
Susannah is a widow in very dire financial straits. She's left with few options to provide herself with the life she has become accustomed to, without giving up her independence. Gambling, and winning, seems as good a choice as any. But she needs someone to teach her the ropes. Phillip learned young that life can turn on a dime. He has learned not only how to play the games, but how to play people. He may be younger then Susannah by years, but he far surpasses her in experience.
Phillip's personality and character worked for me. He had the kind of background that made me believe who he was now and endowed his actions with just the right amount of purpose. Susannah, on the other hand, drove me crazy. She had enough experience with the darker side of people that she should have known better then to act the way she did. She was naïve in ways she never should have been. On top of that, her inability to stop spending money she didn't have was just annoying. I didn't want her to have a happy ending; I wanted her to get her comeuppance.
Usually when a book is broken into three parts you expect there to be a reason. For the first and second, there wasn't any real time gap, just more of a turning in the tides of their relationship. The third part jumped ahead twelve years. People's lives have changed drastically, but those changes aren't immediately explained. I floundered for quite a bit waiting for the explanation to happen.
There was too much Georgian history and not enough of the characters' history for me to enjoy Fortune's Son.