Book Review : A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting

Book Review : A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-HuntingA Lady's Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin
Published by Penguin on July 12th 2022
Genres: Fiction, Historical, General, Women, Literary
Pages: 336
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four-stars

“Bridgerton fans will swoon over this entertaining romp through Britain’s Regency-era high society.”—People
"A Lady's Guide to Fortune Hunting is a sharp, modern, and absolutely delicious take on the marriage plot. Sophie Irwin's debut is one of the most fun, romantic books I've read in a long time. I cannot wait to see what she does next."
--Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Malibu Rising
A whip-smart debut that follows the adventures of an entirely unconventional heroine who throws herself into the London Season to find a wealthy husband.  But the last thing she expects is to find love…
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.

I have a lot going on in my life right now and I needed a light and fluffy read, especially after my frustrations with Iron Flame, and A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting is exactly that—and fun, too. I was hooked from the very first page, enjoying this Austen-esque work with a more modern lens, and which unfolds at a comfortable pace.

 

Main character Kitty Dashwood, er, Talbot, is the eldest of four sisters, and finds herself burdened with the crippling debt of her deceased parents. Unable to eke out a living as a woman during this time period, the only thing left to do is to find a very wealthy husband and fast. You know, a truth universally acknowledged and all of that. 

 

“’Only the rich have the luxury of honor,’ she said coldly. ‘And only men have the privilege of seeking their fortune on their own. I have four sisters who depend on me, and the professions open to women such as I—governess, seamstress perhaps—will not keep even half of them fed and clothed. What else am I to do but seek a rich husband?’”

 

With what little money she has to her name and all of her wits, Kitty and her younger sister Cecy set out to London for the season (for the very first time in their impoverished lives). There, they must battle the gossip, privilege, and prejudice of the ton, with their diminished circumstances a blazing scarlet letter against them. Kitty immediately sets her sights on the affluent and influential De Lacy family, with their youngest son, Archie about to come of age and into a considerable fortune, but Kitty gets far more than she bargained for with his shrewd and cautious older brother, Lord Radcliffe.

 

I enjoyed every minute of Kitty’s husband hunt in A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting, where she manages to be both charming and as honest as possible about her family’s less than stellar reputation and financial status. Though this truthful and more feminist approach would definitely not have worked in a real ton during this era, it was delightful to watch Kitty straddle the thin line between integrity and guile. I truly admired her tenacity in the face of the pressures she was under to provide for her entire remaining family. Her younger sister, Cecy, manages to be a more likable mixture of both Mary and Lydia Bennet, adding to the drama of the story without overshadowing Kitty’s own plight.

 

“’Besides,’ Kitty said, ‘all men of his sort are destined for loveless marriages of convenience, anyway. And if some woman is going to enjoy his fortune, why shouldn’t it be us?’

 

As A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting is written in the third person omniscient, readers are able to delve into the thoughts of most of the cast of characters, rendering all of them very three-dimensional and sympathetic. It’s a lot like reading Lady Bridgerton’s gossip column without the actual gossip column. Sometimes initially it was a teensy bit confusing to ascertain the holder of the thoughts and feelings I was reading and to differentiate from that of the other characters, but it was usually easily figured out by way of context. Regardless, there is no wondering about motivations in this story, as they are all as clear as day for the main characters. 

 

“’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?’

He made an eloquent gesture with his hands. ‘Forgive me, do I need more of a reason than that?’

‘Yes, I rather think you might—I am not sure why my practicality is so abhorrent to you.’”

 

The romance is easy to root for between the two characters, as their relationship takes place over the course of several months. It evolves from cantankerous to mutual appreciation and then to something more. I really enjoyed the banter between these two and watching all of the stages of their relationship unfold. It is worth noting that, in the same vein as Austen, there is no spice in this novel, so readers looking for that may be disappointed. However, readers who still wax poetic about Elizabeth and Darcy’s iconic hand touch, will find enough to please them here. 

 

I’d recommend A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting to anyone needing a fun read or looking for a cozy regency read without all of those pesky constraints of staunch historical accuracy. I also think this novel would be a no-brainer for fans of Austen, Bridgerton, and Evie Dunmore’s works.

 

four-stars
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Posted November 27, 2023 in Book Reviews, Romance

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One response to “Book Review : A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting

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