This answer to this dilemma for Sir Colin Tate, a newly-minted baronet, is most definitely money. While his father might have been the most celebrated artist in England at the time, it is Colin who becomes saddled with a mountain of debt and presented with no means of escape but to become a fortune hunter and marry an heiress. However, he has only three months to charm an heiress into marry him, before the nature of his finances become public knowledge and thus forfeiting his chances at a rich dowry. A chance encounter with the intriguing Lady Beatrice (Bea) Moore at his society come-out has convinced him of two things: 1) Her rank is far beyond his to even consider courtship, and 2) She is the most charming lady he had ever met.
Likewise, Bea is immediately taken with Colin, not only because he is the son of her favorite artist and can introduce her to the amazing, artistic world of his father, but also because she felt an undeniable affinity with this charming man whose smiles brighten up her day. To say that it was love at first sight for the two is an understatement, for it was more like a melding of souls and personalities. Colin, who is normally a solemn man, naturally assumes a teasing grace with Bea that he never knew he had, and appreciates Bea’s intelligence, talent, and beauty. Bea is adorably forward in her interactions with Colin, and finds in him all the traits she ever wished for in a husband. With two such compatible people and no villains in the story, what could be the problem?
Unfortunately, in her years of being a debutante, Bea has grown jaded and wary of fortune hunters. Her indignation at their callous behavior has led her to publish an article (albeit anonymously) on how to avoid a fortune hunter, spurring on a series of events that only increased her dislike of them, while presenting problems for Colin, who fears he cannot convince Bea of the sincerity of his love.
Flirting with Fortune is a delightful and fun read that can easily be divided into two parts; first, the sweetness of seeing the two characters slowly falling in love with perfect harmony, and second, their struggle at mending the hurt when the truth of Colin’s financial situation comes to light. I am extremely grateful that the second part was not dragged out for prolonged emotional anguish, but given just the right amount of time to portray each character’s internal turmoil and pride’s interference with the fear of unreciprocated love.
Ultimately, this story serves as an excellent exploration on the struggle between unconditional love and the realities of life, aside from the fantastic love story of Colin and Bea.
"Does being relieved that I fell in love with a woman whose dowry would save my family make me an evil person? ...Because, as God is my witness, I would have fallen for you either way. The difference, my dear, is that I wouldn'a have been able to marry you, were you poor."
"It would mean that I would be miserable for the rest of my life because I would have had to sacrifice you in order to marry a woman who could save my family." - Chapter 28
This is a rather “chaste” Regency romance, and Erin Knightley has penned an honest and heartfelt romance of two wonderfully constructed characters in a mostly cheerful atmosphere with the importance of family and pride are put to the test. While the romance seems to progress rapidly, Mrs. Knightley has combined witty dialogue with contemplative reflections that proves the victory of everlasting quality of love.