The present story is about Sara, who has a slight form of Asperger and gives her the skill of cracking codes as a hobby. Her cousin who works for a publisher has an author who wants a decipher a code in a journal from 1732. Sarah, currently out of work, goes to France where the journal is to spend a couple of months deciphering and transcribing the diary. While working on her transcription she meets an array of characters from Claudine, who privately owns the diary and Denise, Claudine's housekeeper and Luc, Denise's ex-husband. Sarah is immediately attracted to Luc but knows she is not good at relationships and decides to keep her distance but this does not stop Luc from pursuing her. Sara must learn who she can trust and who she can't.
In the past Mary Dunbas must learn the same lesson of trust while she seeks out a new life and adventure. Mary has been raised by her aunt and uncle as her mother passed away and her father and brothers have followed King James (or known James Frances Edward, Prince of Wales(link)) to Rome. Mary barely remembers her family but one day her brother returns from Rome and wants to take her into his home and family. She thinks she has found a family once again, only to realize her brother wants to use her as a pawn in a scheme. She is being used to protect a man's identity in Paris and soon learns things are not what they appear. People are full of secrets and the one man she swore to hate, might be the only person she can depend on.
From the back of the book... As Mary's gripping tale is revealed, Sara must let go of everything she thought she knew--about herself, about loyalty, and especially about love. These two women, divided by centuries, are both on a quest to discover the limits of trust and the boundlessness of fate.
Overall: I really enjoyed this book and found it in line with The Winter Sea, that I fell in love with over the summer. I found both stories captivating and I wanted to just read the end to see how it all worked out. And while I think The Winter Sea could be read without reading the other books in Kearsley's collection I don't think A Desperate Fortune could be read separately because it doesn't go into a lot of the history of the Jacobite uprising that I think is important to know. However, if you are wanting or willing to get lost in books that deal in intrigue, love, adventure, mystery and history I highly recommend these books. So good for some winter reading.
P.S- I have taken my "All about the Books" page as it looks like it was having some technical issues that I want to resolve before I put it back up.