by Erin Knightley, historical (2013)
Signet, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-451-41348-2
Lady Beatrice Moore fancies herself an artist, and she loves it when you make her feel like she's really achieving something with her brush strokes. Currently in need of a new idea, our heiress wanders around the ballrooms of London, wishing that she could be anywhere but there. A part of me suspects that she'd be changing her tune fast enough if she is actually made to starve for her art for once, but let's be nice and pretend to take her seriously.
So, Beatrice finally finds her muse when she meets Colin Tate, the son of her late idol, the famous artist Frederick Tate. How nice that he has a baronet, because we all know that England is drowning with noble folks who also happen to be artistic geniuses. Colin is sweet, charming, pays attention to her, compliments her brilliance, makes her see stars in her eyes... so what can she do but to throw caution to the wind and invite him to look at her various body bits up close and personal, no? If only more guys are like Colin, but alas, there are so many despicable, nasty, immoral, horrible fortune hunters around, shudder. Those brutes could surely learn a thing or two from Colin...
... Who also happens to be seeking a wealthy heiress. His father leaves behind a bankrupt estate, and poor Colin has to think of the family, the staff, the menagerie, the unicorns, the dancing cats, so can we blame the poor darling for sacrificing his virtue at the altar of matrimony?
So, what do you think happens when Beatrice finds out that Colin needs money?
That's basically the plot of Flirting With Fortune. The bulk of the story is Colin falling in love with Beatrice even as she spins this delusional melodrama of grand love about that man, so when the shoe finally drops, the ensuing fallout feels rushed and the resolution is unsatisfying. Then again, I don't know how the author can salvage things by that point without doing things completely differently. Despite going into this affair on her own free will - one can argue that she, in fact, is the one that practically offers the milk to Colin and insists that he takes a sip - she starts acting like a biggest victim and forces the poor man to go through some lengths to "prove himself".
Beatrice at first insists that he doesn't touch her dowry at all, and I'd love for him to say yes, so that our delusional dingbat would spend her honeymoon in a hovel or something, but he is, unfortunately, too pragmatic to play her games. Not pragmatic enough to dump her on her rear end, however, so he ends up playing her games nonetheless.
Colin is a nice guy, and his only sin here is lie by omission, and even then, he's right - even if he does love her for all the right reasons, she will never accept him once she realizes that he needs money. He comes off like this earnest but rather dim puppy. What on earth did he see in that immature creature anyway?
As for Beatrice, the entire story sees her behaving like an immature twit, and, late in the story, she has no problems thinking the worst of the man she supposedly loves for the flimsiest of reasons. She needs to do some growing up before she settles down, and I can only pity Colin, who would probably spend the rest of this "happy ending" jumping through hoops to keep Beatrice happy. Then again, nobody asks him to fall for that silly little bint, so there's that.
The author has a nice and easy way with humor, and the story is actually very engaging and hard to put down, although in my case, the hard to put down part is also because I feel like I'm in an out-of-control train, unable to jump off even if I see the chasm looming over the horizon. Another day, another book, perhaps, I'd be having fun with the author's stories. Not this one, though, as the main characters are never emotionally mature enough for me to believe that they have a future together.
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