Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Fortune Hunter (Book #42)

Signet just reissued two of Jo Beverley's traditional Regencies from early in her career in a trade paperback called Lovers and Ladies. I just finished reading the first one, The Fortune Hunter (original copyright 1992). The fortune hunter of the title is Amy De Lacy, a young woman of good family fallen on hard times who seeks to make a fabulous marriage to pay off debts and secure a good future for her sisters and brother. She turns down the hero early on because he's not quite rich enough, and the story unfolds from there.

Beverley is a better writer now than she was in 1992. (Which isn't necessarily stating the obvious--I can think of plenty of writers with long careers whose work has gone downhill.) Her recent writing is more dramatic and polished, her plots tighter. That said, reading this book reminded me how much I miss traditional Regencies. The Fortune Hunter is full of historical grace notes that have grown all too rare even in well-researched recent historical romances, little things like how the victory celebrations of 1814 formed part of the background even though Amy doesn't actually meet the Tsar or any such notable. And while I'm no prude, I enjoyed the subtler sensuality and how it fits with the mores of the time. It's probably too much to hope that books like this reissue will bring the traditional Regency back, but I'll do it anyway. I've always been good at unrealistic hopes!

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