The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes: A Novel

The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes: A Novel

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312940980
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 06/26/2007
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 4.15(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.12(d)

About the Author

JENNIFER CRUSIE is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of Maybe This Time, Welcome to Temptation, Tell Me Lies, Crazy for You, Faking It, Fast Women, and Bet Me. She has also collaborated with Bob Mayer to write Wild Ride, Agnes and the Hitman and Don't Look Down. Crusie earned her bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University, a master's from Wright State University, and a master of fine arts from Ohio State University. Before devoting herself to writing full-time, Crusie worked as a preschool teacher, an elementary and junior high art teacher, and a high school English teacher. She lives on the banks of the Ohio River.

EILEEN DREYER is a member of the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. Also known as Kathleen Korbel for her romances, she is the USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty books, including Sinners and Saints, Head Games, and With a Vengeance.

ANNE STUART is a winner of Romance Writers of America's Lifetime Achievement Award. She has appeared on most bestseller lists, including the New York Times and USA Today, and speaks all over the country. Among her many bestsellers are the House of Rohan Trilogy and the Ice Series. She lives in northern Vermont.

Hometown:

Ohio

Date of Birth:

1949

Place of Birth:

Ohio

Education:

B.A., Bowling Green State University, 1973; M.A., Wright State University; Ph.D., Ohio University, 1986

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Mare Fortune bounded down the stairs of the family home in her ragged blue running shorts just as the wind caught the front door and blew it open, sending coppery dust swirling in. She batted the dust away and looked out, but instead of Mrs. Elder's beat-up front porch across the street, she saw golden sunshine beaming down on a red tiled roof and a fat laughing baby toddling in a dusty road while a tough dark-haired guy chased after it, laughing, too. She sucked in her breath and thought, Crash, and reached out into the sunlight for him, but he vanished, him and the baby and the red tiled roof and the sunshine, and it was just boring old Duckpond Street under cloudy skies in Salem's Fork, West Virginia, with Mrs. Elder's peeling porch across the way, no coppery dust at all.

"Oh," Mare said, feeling bereft and then feeling stupid for feeling bereft. He left you, he's gone, it's been five years, you're over it. She turned to close the heavy door, just as her oldest sister Dee took down their mother's jewelry chest from the mantel in the living room and, beyond her, their middle sister Lizzie bent over her metallurgy book at the battered dining room table, everything normal, nothing to worry about.

"Big storm coming in." Mare yanked down on her tank top, shoving Crash and the whole vision thing out of her mind. "Big old Beltane storm." Her tiger-striped cat, Pywackt, padded down the narrow stairs with dignity, and she made kissing sounds at him, which he ignored. "Lightning on the mountain just for us, Py, baby."

"Didn't we throw those away?" Dee said, cradling the brass-bound jewelry box in her slender arms as she frowned at Mare's tattered shorts.

"You tried," Mare said.

Dee nodded, looking distracted. "Come on," she said and turned toward the dining room, her gray wool suit perfectly fitted to her tiny waist. Mare stuck her tongue out at Dee's auburn chignon and followed her into the dining room where ethereal Lizzie sat hunched over her book in her purple silk kimono, her blond curls tangled and blue eyes wide, dripping muffin butter onto her notebook as she ate.

Dee put the jewelry box on the table and said, "Mind the butter, Lizzie," and Lizzie turned another page, oblivious to Dee, the butter, and the wind whistling outside the open garden windows.

Mare plopped herself down at the table and looked at the muffins. "They're all apple bran, Lizzie. That's boring. I like blueberry and lemon poppy seed and--"

Lizzie moved her hand over the muffin basket, still not looking up from her book, and tendrils of violet smoke trailed from her fingertips and across the apple bran.

"Thank you." Mare craned her neck to look into the basket and then went for a newly transformed blueberry, but Dee moved the basket out of her reach.

"First we vote." Dee straightened the jewelry box.

Lizzie looked up from her book. "Now?"

Crap, Mare thought, and looked longingly at the muffins. Lizzie had baked them so they were bound to be munchable.

"Yes, now." Dee sat down at the head of the table. "If Mare's going to college, she has to register now. Which means we have to decide if we move so she can go to a school we can afford. And which piece of Mother's jewelry we sell to finance it. And I have to be at the bank in an hour, so we have to do it now."

"Not now." Mare stared at the blueberry muffin just out of her reach--come here, damn it--so that a couple of dust motes lazing in the air sparked blue. "Not now, not ever." She lifted her chin, feeling the weight of the muffin in her mind, and it rose slowly until it hovered at eye level.

"Mare," Dee said. "Not in front of the window."

Mare grinned and crooked her finger, and the muffin floated toward her, sparking blue once or twice, like a misfiring muffler.

"Oh, dear." Lizzie waved her hands a little, as if to warn Mare off, tendrils of violet smoking from her fingertips, and her butter knife turned into a rabbit.

Py sat up and took an interest.

"Easy there, Lizzie," Mare said, staring cross-eyed at her muffin, now floating in front of her nose. "You know Py and bunnies."

Dee flushed. "Put down the muffin, please, Mare. You know how important this vote is."

"It's important to you," Mare said, concentrating on keeping her muffin afloat. "It's not important to me. As mistress of all I survey, I feel that college is, how can I put this? Unnecessary." She scowled at Dee--why were they having this conversation again? She was twenty-three, if she didn't want to go to college, she wasn't going to go--and her annoyance broke her concentration and the muffin dropped and broke, and Mare said, "Damn." She focused on another one, lemon poppyseed this time, making it rise from the muffin basket while Lizzie's butter-knife rabbit began to forage for crumbs on her notebook page.

At the end of the table, Py began to forage for the rabbit.

"You are not mistress of all you survey," Dee said, exasperated, "you're--"

"Queen of the Universe," Mare said.

"--assistant manager of a Value Video!!"

Mare pulled the muffin toward her with her eyes. "That's temporary. It's only a matter of time until I'm queen of the company."

"I don't think Value Video!! has queens," Dee said.

"I know, they have presidents. But when I get to the top, that's gonna change."

"Well, to become queen of Value Video!! you have to go to college." Dee opened the jewelry box. "It was always Mother's dream that we'd all go, and it's your turn. It's past time for your turn. So we vote."

"I don't want to," Mare said. "Lizzie doesn't want to vote, either, do you, Lizzie?"

Lizzie looked up. "What?"

"It's time to vote," Dee said gently.

"All right," Lizzie said, her focus drifting again.

"Lizzie!" Mare shrieked, betrayed.

Lizzie jerked back, startled, and Mare saw her fright and said, "Lizzie, it's okay, it's okay," but it was too late. Lizzie was waving her hands, fingers trembling, as she warded off Mare's anger, purple tendrils of apology wafting over the table.

"Oh, hell," Mare said as lavender smoke rose around them.

Lizzie let the purple cloud engulf her. It was so quiet in there. Two more bunnies had popped up, depleting the knife count on the table and drawing Py closer. She blinked rapidly as the cloud grew thicker; it felt as if coppery dust had gotten into her eyes. For a moment she'd drifted away from her contentious sisters and their tiny living room in Salem's Fork, and she was floating, distant, in a castle in Spain, lying on her back, and someone was leaning over her, and it was . . .

"Lizzie, honey, take a breath," Dee said, as the smoke cleared.

"I'm sorry," Lizzie said to Mare, pulling herself together. "I wasn't paying attention."

"It's okay." Mare floated a muffin over to her, dispersing more smoke with blue sparks. "Dee's trying to get us to vote and I don't want to because I don't want to move again."

Lizzie picked the muffin out of the air and sighed the rest of the purple away. Violet smoke, drifting around a castle in Spain, moody and romantic. Stop it. "I'm not sure I want to, either."

"We're voting," Dee said sharply.

She startled the bunny and made it quiver, and Lizzie picked it up and petted it, trying not to quiver herself. They were fighting again. She hated the days when they voted. Three more bunnies had popped up on the table during the argument, and Lizzie wondered whether she could take them and sneak back into her room while Mare and Dee glared at each other.

"Then I vote we don't vote," Mare said. "It's my future, and I'll take care of it when it gets here."

"And just how is refusing to plan for your future going to protect you from Xan the next time she finds us?" Dee said, goaded.

"What makes you think we need protection from her?" Mare said. "She's our aunt. And she hasn't come after us in years. I'm not even sure she's the demon you make her out to be." Dee began to protest and Mare overrode her. "And anyway, I don't see the connection between going to college and escaping Xan. I don't see your college degree getting you much protection or anything else except stuck in that damn bank. At least I get to watch movies."

"I wouldn't be stuck in that damn bank if you'd grow up and take care of yourself--" Dee stopped.

Oh, Dee. "I'm sorry," Lizzie said into the silence, trying to fight the sick feeling inside her. "Dee, I'm sorry about the bunnies and I'm sorry about the bank. I'll get us money, I'm almost there, I've almost got it, I'll get us the money and you can quit and paint full-time, I swear--"

"No, Lizzie, it's all right." Dee patted Lizzie's hand. She reached out to Mare and Mare pulled back. "Mare, I didn't mean it, I'm fine at the bank. We're fine. I just want you to have a future."

"I have a future." Mare focused on the muffin crumbs and they piled onto each other in lumpy parodies of muffins, little Frankencakes, misshapen and wrong.

That's not how you make a muffin, Lizzie thought. Mare didn't know how to make things. Making things took time and patience and thought and understanding.

Mare shook her head and let the muffins fall apart again. "You don't need to work at the bank for me, Dee. I don't want college."

"You haven't even tried it," Dee protested.

Mare met her eyes. "College can't teach what I need to know, Dee. I need to know how to use my power, we all do, we're cramped here in this little house, hiding our powers from everybody, and they're rotting inside us. The only one who can show us how is Xan."

"No," Dee said. "You don't know her. You were too young when we ran, you don't remember. She killed Mom and Dad, Mare. She could--"

"She didn't kill anybody." Mare flipped her hand as if she could flip the idea away. "They died of stupidity, just like the coroner said. You really have to get over that, Dee."

Dee clenched her hands. "Trust me. She's dangerous. Isn't she, Lizzie?"

"Yes," Lizzie said. I can't stand this, she thought, picking up her book again.

"At least Xan doesn't hide who she is," Mare said. "At least Xan doesn't tie her own hands and hide from the world."

Dee straightened. "We are not going to Xan, and that's final. Now it's time to vote." She turned their mother's jewelry box so they could see inside. "I vote yes. We use one of Mother's necklaces to send Mare to college."

"Not the amethyst," Lizzie said from behind her book, and blinked as she felt that coppery dust in her eyes again. She could feel the satin sheets against her naked skin, the weight of the purple stone between her breasts, his breath warm and . . . She shook her head. Not the amethyst.

"Not any of them," Mare said. "I vote no."

"Lizzie?" Dee said to the cover of the metallurgy book.

Lizzie lowered the book. "You really don't want to go to school?" she asked Mare.

Mare rolled her eyes in exasperation. "No!"

Lizzie looked at Dee. "I'm sorry. I don't think we should force . . ." Dee scowled at her, her eyes stormy, and Lizzie sucked in her breath. "I abstain."

Dee drew a deep, angry breath, and green fog began to rise, swirling around her.

"Oh," Lizzie said faintly. "Oh, no . . ."

Copyright © 2007 by Jennifer Crusie Smith, Eileen Dreyer, and Anne Stuart. All rights reserved.

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Unfortunate Miss Fortunes 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
Miyakawa More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. If you like Practical Magic, A Midsummer Nights Dream, and Harry Potter, you will adore this book. All I kept hearing in the back of my head was Stevie Nicks. I identified with all three sisters and enjoyed the men that came into their lives. Two thumbs (and I'll even throw in my big toes) up!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reminded me of her other co-authored book, DOGS AND GODDESSES. Wacky, fun read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have ever read! From the beginning until the end, you will not be able to put it down until you know everything there is to know about this 'unfortunate' sisters and their terrible aunt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a charming little book of magick and mischief and it's a fun read. Great for the Saturday afternoon at the beach or just relaxing. I liked it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book, I thought the characters were funny, and interesting. Good book for a day at the beach, or if you just need a few laughs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Loved it. Whimsical and endearing characters, it made me laugh out loud in spots...I'm going to read it again.
SunnySD on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Fluffy romance featuring three sisters blessed/cursed with magical powers. Stalked by their power-hungry aunt, who may have murdered their parents and certainly covets their magic for her own, the three have town-hopped across the U.S., finally settling in sleepy Salem's Fork. Now their true loves, and their aunt, have found them. Frogs, transformations, romance and mis-adventure ensue before everything resolves itself nicely into happily ever afters for all three.I'd actually read this a few years back (pre-LibraryThing), and don't recall liking it that much. I must have been in a better mood this time - although it's still not top of my list, it was enjoyable enough.
vivacelibre on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Very light reading...if you liked Dogs and Goddesses...you like this. A little "get on with it" for me in the middle. Romantic comedy with juicy love scenes...
Darla on LibraryThing 28 days ago
How on earth could I resist this novel (it's not an anthology!) when two of the collaborators are favorite authors? And even if they hadn't been, their joint blog about the book would have convinced me.Let me repeat: this is a novel, not an anthology. It's one story, written by three authors. Three heroines, three heroes, one villain.The three Fortune sisters have magical gifts, but it hasn't made their lives easier. Ever since the death of their parents, they've only had each other, and they never stay in one place for very long because their aunt Xantippe keeps catching up with them.And why not? It's not like Dee, Lizzie, and Mare are using their powers. Heck, those powers are making them miserable. If Xan takes those powers, she'd be doing them a favor, really. And if doing so keeps her young and beautiful, well, she deserves to be paid for that favor, right?So Xan has cast a spell to send her nieces their true loves, giving them a reason to give up their powers. For Dee, there's Danny, who's writing a book about their parents; sorcerer Elric is for Lizzie; and for Mare, there's Jude, a VP at Value Video! where she works, who's offering her a dream job. Except that Mare's ex, Crash, shows up too.The sisters are all individuals, each with her own niche in the family, and their powers reflect their personalities, or vice versa. The heroes likewise are perfect for each of them. And it's loads of fun watching how Xan's plan backfires when finding true love doesn't make her nieces want to surrender their powers.Xan is a great villain, too, because she's just so reasonable. She's not evil, she just sticks up for herself, and everything would be just fine if people would only listen to her. And when things go wrong, it's not her fault. Much fun. It's really a shame this isn't the start of a series (it's not--the authors have said unequivocally that there'll be no sequel), because I'd love to see more of Xan.As with the Crusie/Mayer partnership, each author wrote the scenes that are in her character's POV: Dreyer writing Dee, Stuart writing Lizzie, and Crusie writing Mare and Xan. Since the author shifts coincide with POV shifts, the collaboration was very smooth, and without the three names on the cover, I wouldn't have been able to tell it wasn't written by a single author.Unsurprisingly, The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes was featured in the Cherry Forums Book Club. You can find that discussion archived here.
chicklitter on LibraryThing 28 days ago
I first saw this book advertised and reviewed in Romantic Times Book Reviews and immediately thought, "Oh my God, I have to read this book--it's going to be freaking hilarious." Sure enough, I was very correct.The premise of this book was what first caught my eye: three sisters, all of them witches, who have powers. The hook? They hate their powers. The oldest sister, Dee, is a shapeshifter. Unfortunately, every time she tries to get intimate with a man she shapeshifts--into his mother. The middle sister, Lizzie, can transmute objects. The only problem is that she keeps turning forks into bunnies, and any time she's sexually aroused or frustrated a new pair of shoes appears on her feet. The youngest sister, Mare, is telekinetic. However, she's barely managed how to figure out how to move muffins. Plus, her powers have wreaked havoc on her sex life considering any time she finds herself in the throes of passion things start flying across the room.Needless to say, the sisters tend to see their powers as more of a curse than a gift, and they would be more than happy to give those powers up.Their evil aunt Xantippe (Xan, for short) killed their parents years before while trying to take their powers away from them. Xan is obsessed with youth, beauty and power, and has devised a plan to obtain the sisters' powers which will result in her living longer, growing younger and most importantly being more powerful. How does she plan on doing this? She sends them their true loves with the thought that the sisters would be more than willing to sacrifice their magic for True Love.The entire book takes place over one weekend, and in the course of three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), the sisters fall in love, have fantastic (and dare I say magical) sex and realize they actually want their powers.Aside from the storyline I was also intrigued by the fact that this book was written by three different women, the sisters' stories intertwined rather than being separated into three short novellas. As a writer I was intrigued to see A) if they could pull it off and B) how they pulled it off if they did.They definitely pulled it off.This book is a great example of voice and POV. Each sister definitely has a distinctive voice (each writer told one sister's story), but they're woven together so well that it's very difficult to tell that the book was written by three different people. There are also seven Points of View--the three sisters, their true loves and Xan. That's pretty much unheard of in romance--unless you're Nora Roberts. The POV's are done extremely well, with no head hopping whatsoever. There was one place where I distinctly remember being pulled out of Lizzie's POV, but I was so wowed by the book as a whole that I can't even remember what about it pulled me out. Yes, this book was that good.The only thing that I can even remotely complain about is that it's hinted that Danny (Dee's true love) has magical powers himself, but it's never explained how he came by them, what they are, if he accepts them, etc. Sure, he accepts Dee's powers (he was firmly anti-witchcraft) and loves her anyway, but when Dee tells him he's also magic he completely rebels against the idea. There wasn't any resolution to that particular thread, and I really would have liked to have seen it. I also kept wondering if Crash (Mare's true love) had any magical powers or if he was just completely ordinary.I have to say that I absolutely adored this book. I started reading paranormal romance before everybody and their grandmother decided to write it, and I've always had a soft spot for stories about witches. Considering I also like a story that makes me laugh out loud, this was definitely a perfect fit. This was a great collaborative effort between three well-known romance writers (although, I have to admit, I'd never read anything by Stuart or Dreyer before this book), and a great illustration of just how much fun a well-crafted romance can be to read.
MelissaSusan on LibraryThing 28 days ago
I love and adore Jennifer Crusie and I¿m usually in line to purchase her books on the day they come out but I waited to buy this and I¿ll tell you why: I¿m not a fan of books that are written by more than one author and I¿m not a huge fan of anthologies. I had never read anything by Anne Stuart and I had never even heard of Eileen Dreyer, so I decided to wait a while until I had some extra money.I¿m sorry that I was so quick to judge ¿ this is a very fun and fast-paced novel, one of the hallmarks of a fabulous Crusie novel. At first, I wasn¿t able to tell which author wrote each character but as soon as Mare¿s story got going, I could pick out Crusie¿s voice very easily. That didn¿t mean that Lizzie and Dee were not as fun or well-written, but after reading everything I can get my hands Crusie-wise and then reading it again, it was easy to pick out her contributions.The reason that I gave it an A- is simply that I felt in some ways the stories were just a little too fast. It takes place over a weekend and usually, I can overlook that sort of thing. A great number of romance novels take place over a short amount of time and the mark of a really fabulous author is to make you forget that everything you just read happened in a matter of days. I wasn¿t able to get there. Mare¿s story was easier to believe because her true love was a man from her past and I could believe her story having a resolution in about forty-eight hours.But it was hard to buy Lizzie and Elric and Dee and Danny in particular. I just didn¿t feel it. I could feel they were very attracted to each other but I just couldn¿t see their resolution as neatly. The authors were trying to submerge you into this entire world and I just never quite had a handle on it.In the end though, it was well-written, the characters were fun and easy to read and I would not have minded longer books (or even a trilogy with a different book from a different author). Even if some aspects of the book were not exactly what I wanted, I still enjoyed it thoroughly and now I have two new authors to track down.
jadelennox on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I disagree with some of the critiques I've read of this book, namely that it's disjoint and doesn't hang together as a novel. I was very impressed at how well it does hang together, actually; usually multiple heroine romances are much choppier and flimsier than this one. My problems were actually inherent in reading a multiple author book where I adore one author and not the others.Mare reads so clearly like a Crusie heroine, and I like her quite a bit. Her displays in the video store are inspired, and her speech to eavesdroppers in the diner is gorgeous. Dee's story is bland but adequate; it's perfectly acceptable par-for-the-course romance. I wish she weren't a vergin, but at least the reason she's a virgin is funny.But Lizzie's story is not at all to my taste. Her man is patronizing, superbly magical, and named *Elric*. Elric! Of all the stolen fantasy names that do not conjour romantic overtones, Elric is right up there, between "Thomas Covenant" and "Grima Wormtongue". On top of that, Lizzie's sections don't trust the reader. Romance novel readers do not need to be told, in so many words, that "shoes ha[ve] a strong connection to sexuality" -- we *know* that, and we know that a heroine with whimsical shoes has hidden sensuality. Finally, Elric is repulsive, everything I hate in a romance hero: smug, patronizing, condescending.The narrative has some bugs -- motivations aren't always consistent, and the math of the girls' history doesn't work out at *all* -- but for the most part it's still a fun read. Except for the Lizzie and Elric parts, which are really unreadable. If I skip that storyline, it's a fun read. It's no Bet Me, but then, what is?
MerryMary on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A bodice-ripper, but with humorous twist. The three Misses Fortune are untutored witches with no control over their powers and their Own True Loves suddenly thrust into their lives. An evil aunt wants to strip them of their powers, but the True Loves - normal and paranormal - are getting in the way.
amf0001 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Three sisters are witches, on the run from their evil aunt, and she conjures up their 3 soul mates in order to steal their power... Sweet book but given the calibre of the authors, it should have been much better. Very light and easy to read, but also too easily forgettable.
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Not as good as expected, esp compared against Agnes & the Hitman, and even older stories. This seems to have a very slow start and not as zippy a dialogue as extected. The story did build and overall was satisfactory.