I’ve been going a bit mad on NetGalley again and requesting loads of books. Just what I need when I already have an unending list of stuff to read. But it’s just what we do, right? When this book came out, I was so close to buying it. Obviously, I wanted the Waterstones exclusive edition but it sold out before I could get it. So, I put off getting it. Then it became available as an audiobook on NetGalley. When I was struggling to read last week, I decided it was a good time to take a look. It’s not my usual thing but what harm could it do?
The Regency era is definitely having a moment right now. Thanks in part to Bridgerton I guess. Although, thanks to the works of Jane Austen, it never really disappeared. Sophie Irwin’s novel places us back in this era as we follow Kitty Talbot’s hunt for a rich husband. A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting sits somewhere in the middle of the Pride and Prejudice and the Bridgerton novels. It lacks the sexiness of Julia Quinn’s books but has a bit more daring than Austen’s. But what about plot-wise? Is Sophie Irwin giving us something we’ve seen before or is this a new twist?
Our heroine, Kitty is the eldest daughter in a family of only female children. Their parents are both dead and the girls have 12 weeks before they lose their home. Kitty’s only hope is to head to London and seek out a fortune before it’s too late. However, just when she thinks she’s found the perfect man, his older brother turns up to put a stop to her plan. Lord Radcliffe sees through Kitty straight away and the pair constantly butt heads. But could he be the key to helping Miss Talbot get through the season with the husband she needs?
So, it doesn’t take a genius to work out how this one is going to end. Especially if you’ve read Jane Austen and Julia Quinn recently. There is absolutely no surprise regarding who Kitty will end up with. The problem is, it doesn’t feel right. The pair lack any real spark or chemistry. It all just seems to be checking boxes rather than happening organically. I wish it had ended differently because I just didn’t buy them as a couple. Although, I can’t say that either of them has been given a lot of depth. Yes, Kitty is the strong and independent female lead but we don’t really get to know much about her beyond that. Her whole focus is on money and scheming. She’s shrewd and intelligent but I would have liked a bit more emotional depth. She was very one-note.
In terms of setting the scene, this does a fine job. I did find myself questioning the use of some words in conversation but I can’t be sure that it’s inaccurate. Also, I do think that Kitty and Lord Radcliffe are definitely more 21st-century protagonists. Their actions just don’t seem to always fit the period or, at least, the books it was inspired by. To counter this, we get a fair bit of historical context. There’s plenty about the Napoleonic Wars. Maybe a bit too much? A lot is going on in this narrative and it just takes so long for anything to happen. Everything is so awkwardly drawn out. Especially as it was so obvious where it was all heading.
I don’t think this is a bad book but I think it could have benefited from being a little shorter? It’s not a bad thing to be inspired by the plot of a classic novel but, if you’re doing it, I don’t see the point of dragging it out. So many of the scenes just feel like repeats: another ball that was just like the one before; another walk around the park; and another conversation between Kitty and her sister about their lack of finances. This wouldn’t be a bad thing per se but it is frustrating considering the end of the book feels so rushed. The wrapping-up takes place in a matter of pages. The most interesting parts just fly by.
If only there was less to wade through beforehand. Weirdly, the book manages to be both too simplistic and too complex at the same time. There are far too many narrative strands within the book but none of them ever really go too deep. Everyone is just moving forward to get to the end. It’s all surface-level and perfunctory. The book is just so derivative of this type of book. There’s nothing new or exciting. It’s a cute read and will no doubt delight any fans of Regency-era literature. However, it isn’t exactly memorable.