My new audio to print technique is working really well. That’s where I listen to a library audiobook for a 3-hour drive I’ve been doing lately. Then I finish up with the print version, which is usually something I own.
I’ve just finished The Fortune Hunter, by Daisy Goodwin, and can recommend it to romance readers in either the audio or print version .
The novel starts with the heroine working in her darkroom, combining photographs so that Queen Victoria appears as a codfish in her family portrait. Yet this Victorian-era romance reads and feels like a Regency novel, with complex relationships and dialogue, ballrooms scenes, house parties, and foxhunts. There’s an empress and a rake, a shy smart girl and a lovable geek. All of these relationships are complex and well-developed, playing out in a detailed historical setting. As it turns out, three of the main characters are real historical figures, including Empress Elisabeth of Austria – and if you don’t mind ruining your mental image of the romantic male lead, check out this moustache. (But please, don’t read his Wikipedia entry – it contains spoilers for the book!)
The main question in the book surrounds who is using whom, and who is the true fortune hunter. And, of course, as with any romance novel, who should ultimately end up together. The author kept these questions alive for me throughout this lengthy novel, while also keeping my inner horsewoman entertained with well-informed descriptions of an English hunt.
However, the ending of the book didn’t seem to fit Goodwin’s well-developed characters. It reminded me of my issues with Gregory Macguire novels, where the book develops in one direction and then has to be forced into a known ending. I think there is a disconnect between the main characters as Goodwin wrote them and their true-life romantic outcomes.
Even so, I’d recommend this book for romance readers who are looking for a book with a little more historical depth than normal, or who are interested in horses and the English hunt scene. Despite the excellent historic detail and real-life main characters, I think historical fiction purists will be dissatisfied with this book, which is firmly in the romance genre.