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The Highest Stakes: He's racing to win back his country, his fortune and his one true love by [Lee, Emery]
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4.0 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


A rich and rewarding read, with the history of the times neatly sewn in. 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)

--Historical Novel Review

Love does conquer all in this story, but while we anxiously read to find out how, we are treated to a rich portion of history in this well-researched and thoroughly likable book. (Barbara Lingens 20100414)

I had really high expectations and I was not disappointed. I would suggest this book to anyone with even the slightest interest in horse racing and a love of romances with star-crossed lovers. (Books Like Breathing-Grace)

--Books Like Breathing blog

Emery Lee has given the reader a highly detailed and researched plot... Unexpected twists kept you guessing until the very last page. (Svea Love Confessions of a Muse in the Fog 20100407)
--Confessions of a Muse in the Fog blog

A very enjoyable work of historical fiction, providing a compelling story against the backdrop of thoroughbred horse racing. Definitely recommended. (Meghan Burton Medieval Bookworm 20100414)
--Medieval Bookworm

From the Author

An Author's Note on THE HIGHEST STAKES by Emery Lee

Since THE HIGHEST STAKES' release, I have done a number of guest blogs to answer questions about my creative process, why I chose Georgian England and Colonial Virginia as my settings, and how I researched the novel. I also wrote about the history of horseracing and my own passion for equines. I would now like share some of these thoughts and add some background information on the novel itself.

It is always said that one should write what one knows, but I will add that one should also write one's passions. In my case, this would mean converging horses, history and romance, elements that at first glance appear very much at odds, but the combination, to me, was irresistible. I wanted to create a hero, (Robert Devington) who would overcome many obstacles to find love and happiness, with his ultimate fate hanging on a horse race.

My research in this endeavor was both extensive and diverse, going back to the early 18th century and the creation of the Thoroughbred itself. The horses (all progeny of the Byerley Turk, and the Darley and Godolphin Arabians) are seamlessly woven into the plot in which the success of Sir Garfield's racing stud is elemental to his schemes of social advancement, and a racing wager becomes the only pathway Devington sees to win his true love, Charlotte.

A story of star-crossed lovers and horseracing, THE HIGHEST STAKES transports the reader to the hard-drinking, vice-ridden, horseracing world of Georgian England. Fascinating and titillating, this was an era of corruption, arranged marriages, and high stakes gambling; when racing and breeding became the obsession of the uppermost elite, and a match race might replace a duel in settling a point of honor. It was also an age in which a powerful and privileged aristocracy used an outer façade of honor and politesse to cover its multifarious sins.
Through the fictional love story of Robert Devington and Charlottte Wallace, a tale of drama, danger, thwarted love, and retribution unfurles...

Enjoy the ride!
Emery Lee

Product Details

  • File Size: 2019 KB
  • Print Length: 562 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1402236425
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark; 1 edition (March 18, 2010)
  • Publication Date: April 1, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #881,127 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sharon Miner on April 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
The Highest Stakes by Emery Lee is a historical fiction novel set in the 18th century, mostly in England. The war setting as well as the history of horse racing provide an educational read, while the plot is part love story and part adventure thriller.

The three main characters are fascinating: Charlotte, a spunky orphan, who is determined to achieve her goal of running a stud barn (unheard of in her day!); Robert, a military man who is in love with Charlotte but beneath her in society's eyes; and Philip, a Major and Robert's superior and friend who fights his own demons as well as the enemy soldiers.

But love of women, horses and wealth confuse their relationships, and the obstacles (both self-made and outside issues) create a lively page-turner!

This is a well researched novel though I did have some trouble with the vernacular the author included in the dialog. The horse and racing scenes are described excellently!
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Format: Paperback
As someone interested in the culture and times of the mid-1700's, I found this novel an interesting look at the lives of the "gentry" as well as the "commoners" surrounding them. The development of the horse to become known as the thoroughred is "on track", no pun intended. There was enough real history and culture of the times interwoven into the plot to lend credence to the story and keep me interested in following the lives of Charlotte and Robert, as well as wondering what will become of poor Philip. While the development of the characters occurs in England, the arrival of Robert in Virginia in pre-revolutionary America, added more twists and turns to this plot than the proverbial spaghetti bowl. Just when I thought I had figured out the story between the characters, the story changed course.

I was skeptical of this novel at first, as I am not a fan of romantic fiction. However, I am a fan of horses and of revolutionary war history and culture. I was delightfully surprised to find that this book exceeded my expectations. While the characters are involved in all that would be expected of a romance novel, the focus is not really on their relationships that much but, on the horses, themselves. Perhpas it was just my perception, but I found the development of personalities and characteristics of the horses absolutely delightful. The descriptions of soundness and temperment fascinated me. I especially loved Amoret and could imagine owning her (or she owning me). If you are an equestrian or someone who just likes to be around horses, I think you will enjoy this book. You may find yourself identifying with the people interacting with their horses, more than with the people, themselves. I found myself escaping into the culture of the time and just enjoying the horses, themselves.
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Format: Paperback
Emery Lee's The Highest Stakes opens at the races in Litchfield, Staffordshire in 1742. It's at this race that we're introduced to the characters that shape the novel. The race is for untried horses - those who have yet to win a race. Sir Garfield Wallace, a merchant who recently rose to the gentry, and an avid turf follower entered the gray mare White Rose ("Rosie") in the first race. But on the day of the race, the Wallaces are running late and the jockey, Sir Garfield's son Charles won't make it in time. The race is limited to gentlemen jockeys: no professional jockeys are allowed -- the horses must be ridden by the owner or a member of his family. Robert Devington who has worked for Sir Garfield as a trainer, jockey, and all around problem solver decides to take a dangerous risk and claims a relationship to the Wallace family in order to keep Rosie from forfeiting the race. Devington handles Rosie brilliantly though he wins the Wallaces considerable status, he finds himself shut out once again.

Though much in love with Charlotte Wallace, Sir Garfield's niece, Robert decides that the best way to win her hand is to break away from the Wallaces and to make his own fortune. Robert enlists in the King's Horse. Robert Devington proves his mettle and somehow Robert's commanding officer, Captain Drake, becomes Robert's mentor and closest friend.

Robert and Drake find themselves closely allied as they woo Sir Garfield's niece and daughter respectively. But romance, intrigue, and social ambition keep the lovers apart -- and make The Highest Stakes a fascinating and unusual read.

In The Highest Stakes, the horse racing and breeding are more than a backdrop for the action and romance.
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Format: Paperback
First Line: The blue roan colt had the finely shaped head and alert look of his sire, with strong, straight legs, a chest deep and wide, a short back with well-sprung ribs, and a highly muscled hind end inherited from his dam.

It's 1742. Robert Devington is a stable hand for the nouveau riche (and horse mad) Sir Garfield Wallace. When Wallace's orphaned niece, Charlotte, comes to live with the family, it's her way with horses that leads Robert to fall in love with her. No matter what Devington does, Sir Garfield wants no part of him as a member of the family, so Devington decides to make a career for himself in the British cavalry.

The course of true love never did run smooth, and it's no different in The Highest Stakes. Unfortunately, it's a tale that has very little new to it where two-legged characters are concerned. Devington is the well-intentioned but bumbling Good Guy. Sir Garfield is the resident Bad Guy. His daughter Beatrice thinks of nothing but her own pleasure and throws a monkey wrench into the plot whenever one is needed. Devington's fellow cavalry officer, Philip Drake, has a difficult time thinking of anyone but himself. Even Charlotte is too nice. Yes, the characters are a bit two-dimensional with Devington being the best of the lot. When he's not the focus of the story, the book suffers.

I won't go into all the times when the characters don't speak-- they hiss, whine, wail, smirk, leer and glare. Instead, I'll focus on when the book comes to life, and-- even with its faults-- it does come to life. When? When horse racing, and the history of Thoroughbred horses, are in the spotlight. I love horse racing and know quite a bit of its history and its bloodstock, but most of my knowledge concerns American racing.
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