Title: Fortune’s Folly
Author: Cat Dubie
Genre: Historical Fiction with Elements of Romance
In 1867, Eden Fitzgerald marries, not for love or money, but to persuade her influential in-laws to obtain her father’s release from a contrived prison sentence. Cleverly evading those who believe she, like her father, is a smuggler and Fenian collaborator, Eden does what she can, what she must to achieve her goal. When legal methods are exhausted, she dons a mask, carries a pistol and, using her wiles, wits, even her seductive beauty, robs wealthy citizens to amass enough money to arrange her father’s escape.
Her life grows ever more complicated by the lustful attentions of several men who profess to love her, and the one man she loves but dares not trust. As her crimes worsen, culminating in what may be treason, and her enemies grow more dangerous and determined to apprehend her, she must run for her own freedom.
When André and Eden found seats at a table among a group of merrymakers, he introduced her as his wife and created a stir.
“Your wife?” A young brunette who called herself Loulou raised a slender brow. She giggled and turned to the balding man at her side. “Paul, if you ever bring your wife here instead of me, I shall never forgive you.”
Paul grinned. “Never, ma cherie. But I am not surprised André brings his wife. We have all heard that Madame Fontaine is no ordinary woman.”
Friendly nods around the table. One of the ladies asked, with a coy smile, “André, how is that handsome painter cousin of yours?”
He wriggled out of his coat. “Busy. He has been painting Eden’s portrait.”
Loulou said, “Perhaps he can do mine. Paul, may I send the bill to your office?”
“Do you not send all your bills there already?” He winked at Loulou and rubbed her shoulder. “Now we have a full table and can play.”
For a while Eden watched the game, listening as André taught her the basics of vingt-et-un. Her interest soon faded. Gambling was André’s forte. It would never be hers. Loulou, too, seemed bored. Each time new players sat down, she plied them for gossip.
A newcomer settled in and wiped his brow. “Have you heard? Guy Paquette killed Aldo Gagnon tonight!” Action at the table stopped. Loulou gasped. André grew rigid. “It seems,” the newcomer continued, “Paquette discovered his wife with Gagnon and challenged him to a duel. It took place at sunset at Logan’s Farm. Paquette won.”
“This is outrageous,” Paul spluttered. “He cannot get away with this.”
“Ah, he can and he will
Loulou moaned. “It is that Nicole. Forgive me, André, better this latest lover than you.”
“Loulou! André’s wife is present.”
Eden met their anxious gazes. “I am aware of André’s feelings.” She touched his arm. “Do you wish to leave?”
Although he shook his head, his glazed eyes betrayed the extent of his shock. He pulled the cards across the table. “Let us play.”
Loulou rose. “Come, Eden. We leave them to their game. Have you seen the rest of the club? I will take you on the ladies’ tour.”
Eden shot a worried glance at André. He stared at the green baize table cover, his face the color of an egg shell. Did his anguish stem from the fact Guy Paquette had killed a man? Or because Nicole had found herself a new lover? She suspected the latter.
“Men are strange creatures,” Loulou said as they left the room.
“They say the same of us.”
“So true. Men think with their senses. Women with their minds. We are rational.” She smiled. “They are emotional. Yet they would have us believe it was the other way around.”
Eden nodded. “Because we allow them to continue their assumptions.”
“We are of the same mind, Madame Fontaine.” Loulou broke into gay laughter. “Imagine, a coquette finding common interest with a lady. Look around, Eden. You have seen the rooms where grandfathers cluster like sour grapes on a vine. And the room where the frivolous drink and play. But there is much more here. You must see where women wield the most power. Follow me to La Salle Rouge.”
Loulou led the way to a staircase hidden behind draperies. When they reached the top, she peered down a long empty corridor. Finger to her lips, she beckoned Eden to follow. They slipped through a door, entered a dark room and edged along a wall. Eden stifled a giggle. She was seventeen again, sneaking through the college library.
The room was not as dark as it first seemed. Red-globed candles displayed a sumptuous setting, with brocade wall hangings, plush carpets, red napery on tables. Servers in red livery carried trays bearing red crystal goblets.
“A gentleman may sit and glance at a menu,” Loulou whispered. “But it is not dinner he decides upon. The menu lists specialties, in elegant phrases of course. They range from aperitifs to entrées to desserts. The gentleman decides and places his order. The specialty, if available, joins him at the table. They discuss the manner of service and move to one of many chambers. All is tasteful, discreet and refined.”
Tables were occupied by couples or by men who sipped drinks. Faces indistinct, privacy assured. One couple rose and moved to an arched doorway. The man’s hand moved in a slow caress across the woman’s back as they disappeared.
Eden pictured pent-up passions finding release in the private chambers. Were there such places catering to women? What fun to peruse a menu and say to the waiter, “I’m in a hurry, so I’ll have an aperitif,” or, “I want rich and sweet, so I’ll take dessert.”
Bubbles of laughter rose in her throat. She whispered, “We should not be here.”
“No, we should not.” Loulou listened at the door. Before she could open it, someone else did from outside and light from the hall fell upon her and Eden.
A man in stylish black attire, carrying a brass-headed cane, gazed at Eden. “You are new here, yes? Tell me your name so I can find you on the menu.”
She smiled, shook her head. “No, I am only visiting.”
“Then let us visit together.” He reached for her hand, but was shoved aside by a man behind him.
Eden’s smile fled. Damnation.
What makes this book a must-read and/or what inspired you to write this story:
This is a complex story about a strong young woman who gets tangled up in schemes that include smuggling, theft, murder, possibly treason. Then there’s the good stuff: a gorgeous hero with hurdles to overcome, and other characters who love, hate, desire, and conspire.
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Author Biography: Cat Dubie was the girl who always had her nose in a book, the one who read with a flashlight under the covers or, when the moon was full, sat by a window for hours laughing, crying, loving characters whose adventurous lives wouldn’t let her sleep.
She has traveled the world in books. She has traveled back to the dawn of time and far into the future in books. Her keen interest in history determined the nature of her books, and the first Historical romance novel she read settled the genre.
After working for various levels of government, she retired and now lives in the beautiful province of British Columbia, where she indulges in her need for creating stories about romance, adventure, passion, mystery, love ...
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