Fortune’s Choice by Michalann Perry is a historical romance featuring two very diverse sisters who make for an intriguing character study.
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Illustrator: John Ennis
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Buy on: Amazon, Open Library (BORROW FOR FREE)
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon
TOTAL SPOILER ALERT ⚠
This review is of Fortune’s Choice by Michalann Perry, a 1988 Zebra Lovegram historical romance.
Fortune’s Choice begins in Gordonsville, Virginia, in March 1848. On a rainy night, Amanda Ashby gives birth to a stillborn daughter. Her husband, Thomas, wanting to spare his wife the pain of losing her child, discovers a man, Cutter Doyle, is selling his twin daughters.
Thomas adopts only one of the twin girls. This decision will set into motion the fates of both of their lives.
Part 1: The Search
The daughter Thomas adopted and named LaRaine—now 20—is on a train bound for St. Louis to find her twin sister, whom she found out about on Thomas’s deathbed. Another passenger on the train is Brand Colter, 27, the book’s hero.
Brand is a Pinkerton agent tasked with finding LaRaine’s sister for different reasons. Brand sees LaRaine and thinks she’s her sister, the notorious outlaw, Flame Rider. Even though he thinks LaRaine is a criminal, he’s also attracted to her, and she is to him.
LaRaine is then kidnapped by an outlaw gang, from whom she escapes. She and Brand find each other again, and they become lovers.
Despite the fact that they are lovers, Brand still believes that LaRaine is Flame Rider. So when she tries to escape him, she ends up in jail.
Part II: The Meeting
Brand rescues LaRaine from jail, but trouble soon finds them. Later, LaRaine meets her twin, Flame Rider, real name Mary Doyle.
We also learn Mary’s backstory, and it’s not pretty. When Mary was 8, her mother died. That night, Cutter Doyle forced sex upon his daughter. Soon after, her three brothers were doing so as well. Soon after, the Doyles prostituted Mary to anyone who would pay them. When she was 13, she killed them all by setting the family home on fire with them in it.
After killing her rapist-incestuous family, Mary became the lover and accomplice of the notorious William “Bloody Bill” Quantrill. She then left Quantrill’s gang to form her own.
LaRaine is happy to finally meet her twin. Mary is happy, too, but not for the same reasons LaRaine is. LaRaine soon finds herself in a dilemma: wanting to help Mary while loving Brand, who is responsible for bringing Mary to justice.
Part III: The Journey’s End
Two males try to rape and kill Mary. She kills one of the vermin, and LaRaine offs the other. After this incident, the girls head west, settling in Galveston, Texas. They change their appearance, take new names—Mary and LaRaine are now Beth and Faith Morgan, respectively—and open a high-end dress shop. Their problems aren’t over, however. Mary sees Brand in Galveston as he and his parents live there.
As LaRaine and Brand—full name Brandino Colterelli—reunite, Mary tries various schemes to break them up. Mary tries to seduce Brand. When that fails, she hires three toughs to kidnap and Shanghai him.
Then, after this occurs, Mary tells LaRaine a salacious and completely untrue story about Brand. However, after the fact, Mary feels guilty about what she did and confesses what she did to LaRaine, who then finds and rescues Brand. (Although he did some of it himself).
Fast forward four years. It is now 1872. LaRaine and Brand are married, have three children—a son and, ironically, twin daughters—and a fourth on the way.
Mary has left for Europe after her confession, and her sister and brother-in-law haven’t seen her since.
LaRaine and Brand have their “happily ever after.”
I found Fortune’s Choice a compelling book, primarily because of Mary. Owing to my personal and professional background, I understand why Mary did some things she said, said, and thought.
This is not to say I agree with all of those things.
LaRaine and Brand are a fairly nice couple.
Fortune’s Choice asks a question: if a person suffers pain and trauma, what does the world owe them?
Mary clearly believed that LaRaine owed her for all of her sufferings. Therefore, she spent much of their interactions manipulating LaRaine, which I didn’t agree with.
While Mary redeemed herself slightly for what she did to LaRaine and Brand, she was really a dislikeable character. But making her the focus of so much of the book feels like Ms. Perry felt LaRaine and Brand couldn’t carry the romance all alone.
There are a few love scenes between LaRaine and Brand. Although they are multiple pages long and do engender some sensual heat, they are not overly erotic.
Fortune’s Choice’s heat level may not be as high as many modern romances, but it’s enough to reach the sensual level.
Both LaRaine and Mary endure multiple rapes and attempted murder situations. Thankfully, none of them are successful. There are also scenes of assault and battery, shootings, stabbings, and killings. The violence is not graphic.
Bottom Line on Fortune’s Choice
As stated earlier, Fortune’s Choice is a fascinating, compelling book. Is it likable? I’m not quite sure.
One thing I can say is that most people who read this book will not be apathetic about it.
|Rating Report Card|
LaRaine Ashby set out from her home with a single-minded goal: to find her twin sister. Tragically separated at birth the two women had never met—but LaRaine knew that they were destined to be reunited. What LaRaine didn’t expect was to encounter the most handsome man she’d ever seen along the way. Although he claimed to be her protector, LaRaine feared the steely blue gaze of the virile stranger. He seemed to see her desire building and her passion stirring; LaRaine was sure he knew that she wanted to taste his kiss on her lips…
Brand Colter knew the importance of his job as a lawman. He was to bring the infamous female outlaw Flame Rider to justice at all costs. But just when he thought he had the vixen where he wanted her, Brand had doubts. She didn’t seem to be the heartless renegade he’d heard about. Instead, she was soft and sweet and he had the urge to hold her to him in a never ending embrace. Torn between the law and a lovely woman, he didn’t know what to do. But Brand did know that he wanted to caress her creamy skin, stroke her silken hair and shout to the world that she was his by FORTUNE’S CHOICE.Fortune’s Choice by Michalann Perry