When Charlotte Wallace lost her parents, she was sent to live with her aunt and uncle, where her only joy in life became riding horses in secret – and being taught by the stable boy, Robert Devington. Now older and completely in love, Robert and Charlotte wish more than anything to marry, but Charlotte’s uncle won’t hear of it, no matter how many ways Robert proves himself. An unexpected betrayal and a lie forces them apart, and only horse racing can bring them back together again.
I questioned my judgment a little before I read this book, not sure what I was thinking when I requested it. Horse racing? Really? I loved horse books when I was a kid, but it was something I grew out of. Emery Lee’s book says maybe I “grew out” of it too soon, because I enjoyed this book to a surprising degree.
While Robert and Charlotte are the focus of this book’s plot, this is definitely not a romance. They already fell in love and the book is concerned with getting them married, which is all they both want. They both love horses, though, and the racing is a constant plot point. The horses themselves are almost characters, given little quirks of personality, and it’s clear through their love for animals that Robert, Charlotte, and even Philip Drake are good people thrown in bad circumstances. I really liked many of the characters. A few of them were caricatures, like Charlotte’s uncle, who is the epitome of a fortune seeker and doesn’t care for anyone else as long as he makes money and rises in prestige, but rather than annoying me I thought these people were an interesting backdrop for the characters who are worth reading about.
Plus, the book is exciting. The horse races in particular are surprisingly riveting. I didn’t know who was going to win all the time, and I was genuinely curious. Even though a fair amount of the plot is revealed on the back of the book, I couldn’t really predict where the book was going to go and just how or even if Robert and Charlotte were going to get back together in the end. I also liked that some of the book took place in the Colonies; it gave a different perspective on the new sport and provided another angle. It went very quickly for a 500-page book.
The Highest Stakes is a very enjoyable work of historical fiction, providing a compelling story against the backdrop of thoroughbred horse racing. Definitely recommended. And a totally shallow note, I love the cover of this book. I think it’s gorgeous!
I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free from the publisher for review.