The Fortune Hunter, by Diane Farr

>> Wednesday, May 19, 2004

I've read a couple of Diane Farr books already and I've found them pretty nice, almost too fluffy. Then I read The Fortune Hunter.

Lady Olivia Fairfax has it all. She's rich, she answers to no one, and she has a rewarding life running the orphanage she founded. She certainly has no desire for marriage, having no intention of destroying her immensely pleasing life. Meanwhile, George Carstairs is at the end of his rope. His estate became impoverished a generation or two ago, and he's spent most of his life gambling to finance his very existence. Now in his thirties, living in a small room with no valet or servants, hiding his acute penury from the ton, he decides to bite the bullet and find a rich wife. His heart's desire is to bring his estate back to life, so he makes a list, checks it twice, and sets out to pursue the heiress at the top and work his way down.
Wow! Now, this is what I thought was missing in the author's other books. The Fortune Hunter was written in the same light style and had the same more "intimate" conflicts, but this one definitely had a heart. A B+.

First of all, I loved the fresh twist on the old plot of the guy who needs to marry an heiress. The book starts as George and Olivia meet when he comes to call on a friend he's been cultivating in order to gain an introduction to the very reclusive heiress Olivia Fairfax. Thinking she's somebody else, George foolishly blurts out his plans, and this sets up the conflict. So, from the beginning, Olivia knows that George is a fortune hunter, and George's "mission" is to get her to marry him in spite of this.

The way he does exactly that is a delightful journey. George is a yummy hero, charming, funny and outrageous, and I loved the man. Olivia was a nice match for him, even if I am a bit tired of all those Regency heroines so devoted to charity. I liked the way she treated George, even knowing why he was courting her, very pragmatic of her :-)

The Fortune Hunter would have got an A-range grade from me for the development of the romance relationship (actually, the only thing I would have changed of that aspect of the story is that I would have liked a little more heat. Other than that... perfect!). Unfortunately, certain things were not so good and made me lower the grade slightly.

First, there was a subplot about Olivia's sister-in-law escaping from her wife-beater husband and finding refuge with Olivia, and that subplot was pretty boring and jarred with the rest of the book. Plus, it really didn't add much to the story.

And second, the ending... and here are some spoilers...








I felt it was almost too pat. Olivia's solicitor makes she and George believe she's broke, in order to save her from marrying a fortune hunter. Then, when he sees they actually love each other and are planning to marry anyway, he reveals all.

I would have been willing to follow these two into, well, not poverty, but just a commonplace existence, which is what they would have had. They would have been able to live a nice, dignified life. To me, that's HEA enough, I didn't need the cop-out ending. It felt a bit like those books where the low-born hero is revealed in the last page to actually be the long lost son of a duke.

But well, that's actually a small complaint, this book was so wonderful that this is actually pretty unimportant.


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