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The Highest Stakes    by Emery Lee order for
Highest Stakes
by Emery Lee
Order:  USA  Can
Sourcebooks, 2010 (2010)

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* *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Anyone who enjoys stories about love, horses and war will love this novel. Set in 18th-century England, it depicts a world where gentlemen, besides worrying about what the French are up to, love to spend their time at the races. If a bet could be won, a fortune could be made as well as perhaps an advance into the company of peers.

A self-made country squire has hopes of this, with good horses and superior groomsmen. As luck would have it, his niece has become one of the superior groomsmen and has fallen in love with another. The troubles this leads to provides us with a rollicking, fast-moving plot, where what we think is going to happen is always just barely avoided, and really, nothing but surprises are in store.

The author is an equestrienne, and it shows. While some details about the two-footed characters and plot might be missing, we learn much about the breeding, training and riding of horses. Especially interesting is how new ideas of breeding came from observation and from the introduction of new blood - even from Indian horses bred in the colony!

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.

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