“You must lose something you can’t afford to lose, trust someone you have no reason to trust, and love someone with no hope of him ever loving you in return.”
These are the words that eerily greet Cassie Bowen as she enters her Aunt Flora’s home in Lyman’s Gap, Pennsylvania. Quite an auspicious beginning and one that takes Cassie by surprise.
In Europe several hundred years earlier, a gypsy placed a curse on the women in Cassie’s family. Each family will give birth to a son and a daughter. The son will make sure the line continues with another son and daughter; the daughter, on the other hand, is thrice cursed. Not only will she never find love, but she must retain possession of a crystal ball which will show her the future, and no one will believe her predictions. Aunt Flora dies soon after Cassie’s arrival, leaving Cassie to inherit her Aunt Flora’s estate, and the crystal ball (which is named Sebastian).
Brent Conway is Aunt Flora’s next-door neighbor and had always watched out for the old woman. Brent grew up poor, even though his dad owned the local newspaper. The paper never made money and Brent swore that he would be rich someday and live in a nice house. For Brent, this is the most important thing in his life and he’s definitely well on his way when Cassie appears.
The first vision Cassie sees in the crystal ball is Brent making love to her. Despite her initial shock, she becomes aroused. Regardless of the fact that no one in town has much nice to say about Brent, she likes and trusts him, even though she – ahem. . .has no reason to, thereby breaking part of the curse. The reader never really learns just what he did to earn the ire of the community. Apparently he turned his father’s newspaper into a bit of a rag, but this is inferred rather than shown. Brent also does not endear himself to Cassie with some smarmy comments about the rights of women – this, remember, is 1859 – women’s suffrage was a long way off.
So why did Cassie like Brent so much? My impression was that he was never quite what he made himself out to be. His beliefs were handled too casually and more time should have been spent explaining them as well as the changes he went through during the book leading to his turnaround.
Cassie is likable enough but very shy at first. It takes her awhile to come into her own and her constant blurting out of her visions doesn’t help. Her lawyer won’t do what she asks, and neither will Brent. Everyone in town thinks she’s crazy and all Cassie wants to do is break the curse. Brent has also been keeping another secret: a year ago, he asked the daughter of the town’s wealthiest man to marry him, and she accepted. She’s back now and her father wants to hold Brent to the proposal. By this time, Cassie know she loves Brent, but it looks like he will marry someone else, so her love, ahem, may not be returned.
Cassie’s Fortune is pleasant enough, but simply doesn’t delve into all the issues it presented in a way it should have. Both characters had some charm and I did root for them to get together, but depth was lacking. Some of the secondary characters came off a little small town stereotypical and Cassie’s brother and sister-in-law were caricatures, a little too nasty and greedy to be believed.
All in all, there are worse ways to while away an afternoon, but don’t expect to remember this fairly superficial read after you finish it.