I'll admit I don't always make it through historical fiction. As much as I like history, sometimes I bog down in the details. And, so many historical novels tend to emphasize the details at the expense of the story. Daisy Goodwin certainly cannot be criticized for bogging down the story in one of the best historical novels I've read in years. The Fortune Hunter is a fascinating story of a love triangle in Victorian England.
At twenty, Charlotte Baird knew she was not beautiful. She was most content behind a camera, viewing it as a form of art. However, as the heiress to the Lennox fortune, she attracted a great deal of attention from her half-brother's friends. But, until she met Bay Middleton, a cavalry captain, Charlotte had little interest in any of them. Unfortunately, Bay had a reputation as a ladies' man, and a possible fortune hunter. He was a hard-riding horseman with little money of his own. And, just as Bay was trying to convince Charlotte that he was interested in her, and not her fortune, Elizabeth, the Empress of Austria, arrived in England.
Elizabeth had married the Emperor of Austria when she was sixteen, but she didn't share his interest in Austrian politics and governing. Instead, the Empress, who was known as the most beautiful woman in nineteenth century Europe, was a passionate horsewoman. Known as Sisi to her family, the Empress loved to escape the confines and formality of the royal court. When she arrived in England to hunt, Earl Spencer, her host, asks the best rider in England, Bay Middleton, to act as her pilot on the courses. Bay's obligation to his patron, Spencer, and the whispers about his relationship with Sisi, could ruin his chance to marry Charlotte Baird.
The Fortune Hunter is a riveting, fast-paced historical romance, all the more fascinating because of the few known facts behind the lives of the main characters, including tragic endings that are not part of this story, but are part of history. If you're looking for drama, history,Victorian society, romance, and a book by a masterful storyteller, pick up Daisy Goodwin's The Fortune Hunter.
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The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin. St.Martin's Press. 2014. ISBN 9781250043894 (hardcover), 480p.