Saturday, September 7, 2013
Erin Knightley - Flirting with Fortune
It all started with a chance encounter in a gallery. At the young age of nineteen Lady Beatrice Moore is growing weary of maneuvering herself through all the drama that comes with a season in London. With an eye towards the artistic, Beatrice is a keen observer of people and she is tired of having to avoid the attentions of men not interested in her but what she’d bring to a marriage. Looking to escape the crush of the latest ball Beatrice hides out a private gallery to view paintings created by her favorite artist Sir Frederick Tate, but her solitude is soon invaded by a young man she’s never met before. The two hit it off in a manor Beatrice has never know with a man before and she is later surprised to learn that her mystery man is none other than the son of her idol, Sir Colin Tate. Intrigued to know more about both Sir Colin or any personal insights he may give about his famous father, Beatrice does something unlike her normally reserved self and invites him to call on her.
Sir Colin Tate enjoys the stolen moment with Lady Beatrice but he knows that to call on her would be a temptation he shouldn’t indulge in. Colin’s sensational appearance at the ball is all part of a carefully planned debut for him into the marriage mart with the goal of attracting a young woman ready to trade a sizeable dowry for entrance into the peerage. Sadly, Colin’s father may have been a genius when it came to capturing life on canvas, yet the real life concerns of personal finance or planning for the future weren’t his strongest suits. Upon Sir Frederick’s death, Colin inherited a mountain of debt that he has no chance of paying off without perhaps gaining the funds through marriage. Deep in his heart, Colin hates the position he’s been put into and steeling a few moments with a woman who truly seems to like his company is just too hard to let go of.
What both Beatrice and Colin can’t count on is how quickly their friendship and flirtation grows into a deep regard for one another, yet both are keeping their own secrets. Beatrice, having seen the result of her friend’s loveless marriage to a fortune hunter and being targeted by aggressive man who shares the same traits, decides to warn all young women against falling for the wrong kind of suitor. She publishes a scandalous cartoon that could ruin her reputation if anyone learns she’s the artist. Colin, knowing how strong his feelings for Beatrice have become but also knowing her feelings about men who marry for money, decides to court her without disclosing the true state of his family’s fortunes. They both have a lot at risk should the truth ever come out, and unfortunately even the most well kept secrets have their ways of coming out.
Colin was such an exceptional hero that I dare to call him swoon-worthy. Besides being the typical Tall, Dark and Handsome, he just has such a sense of honor and dignity that defines all his actions from the start. He truly hates that his father’s irresponsibility has led him to sacrificing himself into marriage, yet he still tries to court the heiresses in an admirable fashion. When it comes to Beatrice, Colin never intended on pursuing her for her money and it’s only when his heart has moved past his mind that he even considers taking the risk of courting her in earnest. I really loved how his feelings for Beatrice grow out of their friendship and their shared love of Sir Frederick and his art. Colin truly enjoys spending time with her and begins to seek her out just for the normalcy that she brings against the falseness of courting a woman only for her dowry. I was quite happy to overlook his lies of omission towards Beatrice since the truth would have pulled them apart at all stages of their relationship. Her friendship was just as important to Colin as any romance and it shows in how he respects her both in body and soul.
When Colin’s financial situation is revealed I didn’t like how quickly Beatrice discounted everything that Colin had said or done during their courtship. Her anger blinded her to the fact that with the exception of him not disclosing the family’s debt Colin behaved in an honorable way towards her. This was one of the first historical books I’ve read in a very long time where they don’t consummate their relationship before the wedding and this just screams of how above board Colin was treating their relationship. Unfortunately Beatrice projects all of her resentments about “fortune hunters” onto Colin without really thinking about what could have driven a decent man into that situation. She seems to feel that her righteous anger should exclude her from taking any responsibility to how things progressed between them. I was glad that in their final fight Colin confronts Beatrice with her own sins of impugning his intentions and making him prove himself when he would never have asked the same of her.
Forgiving Beatrice’s moment of foolishness, together with Colin they make a great couple and this is a testament to Ms. Knightley’s writing that they have come off the page as such vivid characters. Their easy conversations together, the quiet moments spent in each other’s company and the new emotions that they bring out in one another all came across within the story. As a reader I felt I was sharing those moments with them. There was an attraction and passion always simmering underneath even the most ordinary scene between the two, so when that emotion did flare up it was just as intimate as some of the hottest stories can get. When they separate for a time it affected me and I could empathize with all the pain they were both feeling. Beatrice’s confusion, Colin’s desperation; these emotions were projected just as strongly as their love. It all built to a wonderful moment of clarity for both characters and they both moved quickly towards a happy reconciliation.
Beatrice and Colin’s story was my favorite of the Sealed With a Kiss series. Even though each book could stand on its own, it felt like everything was leading to this story. Beatrice was always in the thick of her sibling’s courtships and now to see her through her own was just a great capper on the series. For a great romantic treat I would recommend Flirting with Fortune and then checking out the rest of Ms. Knightley’s catalog.
~Reviewed by Sara
Book: Flirting with Fortune
Author: Erin Knightley
Other books in the Sealed with a Kiss Series: More than a Stranger, Miss Mistletoe, A Taste for Scandal