GUEST BLOG by Emery Lee author of THE HIGHEST STAKES
As a self professed “romance junkie,” history buff, and horse lover, I began my writing career with the idea of merging these somewhat ill assorted themes. The result of my endeavor, THE HIGHEST STAKES, although not a romance novel in the very traditional mode, converges the elements of ambition, deception, thwarted love, and horse racing; into a sum much greater than its parts – a love story of epic proportions.Although the novel is comprised of many diverse elements: the class divide in Georgian England, political corruption and intrigue, war with France that would ultimately span a half-century, and the origins of Thoroughbred horse racing, The Highest Stakes is at heart a story of abiding romantic love.
“Or, to be more precise, a story of love constantly foiled and frustrated.”(-Cori Van Housen, Historical Novel Review)
The main theme of THE HIGHEST STAKES is the very tortuous journey of Charlotte Wallace, a lonely girl who finds first friendship, and then true love in the most unexpected of places, and Robert Devington, the head groom of her uncle’s racing stables, who is equally astounded to discover his soul mate in his master’s niece. Although limited by Charlotte’s uncle to the lowly position of under groom, Robert is neither illiterate, nor lacking ambition, and heedless of the class divide, which would separate them, Robert and Charlotte are determined to build their future together.
“Charlotte and Robert’s love blossoms as he teaches her about riding, and only their passion for each other eclipses their mutual love of all things equine. But realizing their dreams of romance seems ever beyond their reach. With each twist and turn of fate and the machinations of wily antagonists, Emery Lee ratchets up the suspense…” (-Cori Van Housen, Historical Novel Review)
The drama first begins at the Lichfield races, where Robert prepares Sir Garfield’s prime racing prospect for her maiden race. When Charles Wallace, Sir Garfield’s son, fails to show, Robert is confronted with a dilemma of profound magnitude. Does he risk his turf career by deceiving the racing stewards to win Sir Garfield’s favor, or does he allow the horse to lose by default and surely run afoul of the man whose good graces he most seeks?Although Robert has proven himself a force to be reckoned with in matters of the turf, Sir Garfield Wallace is not about to throw away his niece on a stable groom, when he can use her to further his own agenda.The fateful race setting the plot in motion, is the first of several which serve to guide the destinies of Robert and Charlotte throughout THE HIGHEST STAKES.A secondary romantic thread is introduced through Captain Philip Drake, the feckless younger son of an aristocrat, determined to make his way in the world more expeditiously than soldiering. While accompanying his brother-in-arms to the Doncaster races, Philip sets his sights on wedding an heiress, finding exactly what he seeks in Sir Garfield’s daughter Beatrix. The “easy” path he chooses, however, proves a winding and perilous journey leading to deception, betrayal, heartbreak, and seemingly utter loss.
“Will Charlotte and Robert end up together? Will Major Drake fade away in his chosen life of dissipation or step up to ancestral duties? The beauty of the book is that you cannot anticipate how it will go; you can only hang on for the ride.” (Cori Van Housen, Historical Novel Review)