A Lady's Guide to Fortune-Hunting
by Sophie Irwin
Published by HarperCollins
Kitty Talbot needs a fortune. Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune.
Left with her father’s massive debts, she has only twelve weeks to save her family from ruin.
Kitty has never been one to back down from a challenge, so she leaves home and heads toward the most dangerous battleground in all of England: the London season.
Kitty may be neither accomplished nor especially genteel—but she is utterly single-minded; imbued with cunning and ingenuity, she knows that risk is just part of the game.
The only thing she doesn’t anticipate is Lord Radcliffe. The worldly Radcliffe sees Kitty for the mercenary fortune-hunter that she really is and is determined to scotch her plans at all costs, until their parrying takes a completely different turn...
This is a frothy pleasure, full of brilliant repartee and enticing wit—one that readers will find an irresistible delight.
A Lady's Guide to Fortune-Hunting is a debut novel for Sophie Irwin, and centers around eldest Talbot sister Kitty, and her quest to find a wealthy husband to save her home and her sisters from ruin. With 3 months before the debt collectors arrive, Kitty must come up with a fortune. The only way is to marry rich, so Kitty hides her families shameful past, and arrives in London to participate in the season. She almost has a proposal, but she doesn't expect Lord Radcliffe, who see's that she is fortune-hunting, and will do anything to stop her from ruining his family name. But as they spend more and more time together, they begin to see past their infuriating quirks, and find something unexpected in one another.
I'm not usually a fan of historical romances, OR third person narratives, but I really enjoyed this one. Hell, it doesn't have any steamy scenes at all, and I still enjoyed it. I was surprised this was Sophie Irwin's first novel, to be honest. The story is fun, and entertaining, the characters are quite the mixture of personalities, and the dynamic between Kitty and Lord Radcliffe was wonderful. Their bickering and banter was the highlight of the book, and I couldn't get enough of them. What I liked the most was Kitty's character. Sophie Irwin isn't the first author to write about a strong and independent woman in historical London, but she might be the first to write a character that has the mind of a con-artist, yet can still charm you.
Honestly, if you love historical romance, you need to pick up this book. I couldn't put it down, and I find myself wanting more.
Mr. Linfield: "We may live in the same town, but we're from different worlds. I'm the son of the squire! And Mama and Miss Spencer helped me to see that I cannot afford to make a mésalliance if I am to make a name for myself."
Kitty had never been so aware of the sound of her heartbeat, pounding a drum loudly in her ears. A mésalliance, was she?
Kitty: "Mr. Linfield. Let there be no lies between us. You had no issue with our engagement until you encountered the pretty Miss Spencer again. A squire's son, you say! This is not the sort of ungentlemanly conduct I would have expected your family to condone. Perhaps I ought to be pleased that you have proven yourself to be so utterly dishonorable before it was too late."
Aunt Dorothy: "Look at all these people. Can you sense the opportunity in the air, my darlings?"
Cecily: "Marks of weakness, marks of woe."
Cecily said somberly, in what Kitty recognized as her quoting voice. Aunt Dorothy eyes her suspiciously. As they moved into the great entrance hall, she hissed into Kitty's ear, quietly, so Cecily could not hear.
Aunt Dorothy: "Is she a fool?"
Kitty: "An intellectual."
Aunt Dorothy sighed
Aunt Dorothy: " I was afraid of that."
Kitty did not know Mr. de Lacy, at all - did not know the best avenue for attack to suit his character - but how different could he be to the rest of his gender?
Kitty: "I quite consider you my hero, Mr. de Lacy. To rescue us so kindly. I do not know what we might have done without you."
Mr. de Lacy ducked his head bashfully. Yes, quite so - the fishing line grew taut in her hands.
Kitty: "I see. And may I ask, my lord, if the only reason you protest to such a marriage is that you think me a fortune-hunter?"
Lord Radcliffe: "Forgive me, do I need more of a reason than that?"
Kitty: "Yes, I rather think you might - I am not sure why my practicality is so abhorrent to you."
Lord Radcliffe: "Practicality? You would call it that, rather than calculation - greed - manipulation? I'm afraid it is these far less honorable words that I would use to describe you, Miss Talbot."
Kitty: "Only the rich have the luxury of honor. And only men have the privilege of seeking their fortune on their own."
One of the worst things about losing one's parents, for Kitty, had not come in the first few raw and shocking days of grief. It had come later: it sneaked up on her daily in the frequent instances where she thought of a question to ask them - something she might have always vaguely wondered, but never thought to voice, something inane or something important - only to realize a second later that, of course, they were no longer there to ask.
Lord Radcliffe: "And little thought you may care, in polite society, it is considered highly inappropriate for an unmarried woman to be seen visiting an unmarried man's house, maid or no maid."
She gave an extravagant roll of her eyes.
Kitty: "Dear lord, city dwellers are easily so scandalized. Do you think it's the lack of fresh air?"
Kitty: "Any more regrets?"
Lord Radcliffe: "Oh, many."
Kitty: "And do you have any eligible suitors for me this evening?"
Lord Radcliffe: "Alas, very few, but as you were the one who deemed this event so essential to you, I am afraid this is your error, rather than mine."
Kitty: "You must say if you feel yourself unequal to the task."
Lord Radcliffe: "Perhaps I ought to compile a suitable list of gentlemen rich enough to satisfy you and yet so lacking in moral character that I feel no guilt about unleashing you upon them."
She cut him a withering look.
Kitty: "How kind."
Lord Radcliffe: "Am I the only person you have met that does not immediately do your bidding?"
Kitty: "I suppose I am used to having my way. I am the oldest in my family, so perhaps it is force of habit."
Lord Radcliffe: "Oh, that will be it. Nothing at all to do with the militant planning or iron will, of course."
Kitty: "Why, that almost sounded like a compliment, my lord."
Lord Radcliffe: "I'm losing my touch, it seems. You are, of course, also lacking anything resembling moral integrity, and I imagine that goes a long way toward contributing, too."
Kitty: "Oh, of course."
Pemberton: "Of course had I been in Wellington's shoes, I would have -"
Kitty: "I wonder if -"
Pemberton: "- but really, that is what happens when one recruits from the lower classes, not an ounce of discipline between them -"
Lord Radcliffe: "Why, what a shame it is that a man of your wisdom could not be there to save us."
The derision in his voice was now quite audible - to all but Pemberton, it seemed, who puffed up in pleasure while the rest of the group flinched a little.
Pemberton: "I don't know about that, though I own I should have liked to see the battle with my own eyes."
Lord Radcliffe: "Let me assure you that the view did not improve with proximity."
Pemberton did not appear to hear him.
Pemberton: "One cannot help thinking that it might have made the world of difference. My housemaster did always say I had missed my called as a general."
Lord Radcliffe: "Oh, undoubtedly so."
Lady Radcliffe: "Radcliffe, perhaps -"
Lord Radcliffe: "Though of course it is much easier to develop a taste for war once the fighting has concluded, is it not?"
At last the antagonistic tone seemed to filter through to Pemberton. He flushed angrily, his earlier distaste for Radcliffe's company recollected in force.
Pemberton: "What, my lord, are you implying?"
Lord Radcliffe: "My apologies, Mr. Pemberton, for only implying what I intended to make very clear."
Lord Radcliffe: "I should then perhaps congratulate you."
Kitty: "A touch premature. You never know, perhaps Mr. Pemberton's brother will arrive at the eleventh hour to blackmail me. I should not like to celebrate yet, just in case."
Lord Radcliffe: "Of course. Most sensible. Though I should not expect there are many men in the world brave enough to stand up to you."
Kitty: "Just one, in fact."
Selbourne: "Miss Talbot. I'm not sure you can expect me to believe that a gentlewoman such as yourself is really going to shoot me."
Kitty held her hands steady.
Kitty: "You're a gambling man, Selbourne - are you willing to bet on it?"
Hinsley: "What was that? I told you to stay in the carriage!"
Kitty: "And I did, until it seemed you weren't coming back out again."
Hinsley: "That is a barefaced lie!"
Archie: "She was going to shoot him."
Kitty: "I was not."
Hinsley: "Give me that pistol. By George, do you have the faintest idea how to use it?"
Kitty: "Well, not really. But as it turns out, neither do you - it wasn't loaded, you dolt. I checked as soon as you left. Are you honestly a soldier?"
Hinsley: "Dear God. Dear God."
Lord Radcliffe: "By God, how could you let her do such a thing? She could have been hurt."
Hinsley: "Let her? Good God man, have you ever tried telling her what to do?"
Kitty: "Ask me then. Ask me if I should like, if I should want to marry Pemberton, were the choice only about me?"
Lord Radcliffe: "Would you?"
Kitty: "No. Now ask me, whether I should still love you, were the choice only mine to make?"
Lord Radcliffe: "Would you?"
Kitty: "Yes. "
Lord Radcliffe: "Would you - would you like to marry me, Kitty?"
Kitty: "I would. But first, I feel I must inform you that I come with four sisters, a badly leaking roof, and a veritable ocean of debt."
He started to smile now, and once begun it did not seem to stop, overtaking his whole face.
Lord Radcliffe: "I thank you for your honesty. May I reassure you that I am desperate to meet your other sisters, the roof sounds charmingly rustic, and the debt does not faze me. Of course, I understand that you will need to see my accounts before committing yourself."
She laughed again, loud and bright.
Kitty: "I'm sure that won't be necessary. As long as you can promise you're absurdly rich and you'll pay off all my family's debts."
Lord Radcliffe: "I am absurdly rich, and I will pay off all your family's debts."
Kitty: "Why then by all means. I would indeed like to marry you."