Taking place in the 1740s and 50s in both Europe and the American colonies, The Highest Stakes is a vastly researched novel about horse racing and love.
Robert Devington desperately wants to marry Charlotte Wallace, but her uncle and guardian forbids it because, simply, Devington is a nobody.
I admit, some of the stuff in this novel flew right over my head. I know jack about horse racing and horses – I've never been near one in my life. I enjoyed the details of the racing. It was exciting. It felt like I was there.
Devington tries everything to win Charlotte. He joins the King's army and is made a Captain and comes back, hell bent on trying anything, even a horse race to convince her uncle, but the older man is most dastardly prejudice and doesn't keep his word.
While this soap opera plays out, we have Devington's friend Major Drake. Drake is a most intriguing character. He looks out for himself, but has a bit of a conscience. Sometimes we see these two fight within him and he has to make a quick decision. I was most interested in his story, I must admit. He gets the rug pulled over his eyes a few times and is played for a fool. By the end of the book, I felt sorry for him.
Anyway, back to Devington. Thanks to Drake, Devington is faced with criminal charges and is sent to the American colonies. There, he changes his name and spends years working at his revenge against his former friend.
The revenge plays out almost like a movie. It was rather an exquisitely drawn out plot.
The Highest Stakes was a great debut novel. Lots of research and effort obviously went into this book and it shows. What you get is an intriguing historical saga.