Title: Fortune Hunter
Author: Ava March
Publisher: Carina Press
Fortune Hunter is the second book in March’s Brook Street series, following Thief (which I reviewed here). Fortune Hunter follows the story of Julian Parker, the cousin of one of the heroes from Thief who is briefly mentioned at the end of that book. However, although Benjamin and Cavin make brief appearances here, this book stands alone perfectly and you can easily jump right into this story without reading the first one.
In Fortune Hunter, Julian has recently returned from America in search of a rich wife. He managed to save up enough money to get to London, but beyond that he is pretty broke. Julian is from the “those Parkers” branch of the family, but fortunately his cousin Benjamin is a kind and friendly guy and agrees to show him about town and make the necessary introductions to help Julian settle into society. Ben is quite upset to learn that Julian is just shopping for a wealthy wife. However, Julian sees no other options given his financial situation.
Ben introduces Julian to many of his friends, including Oscar Woodhaven. Julian and Oscar immediately hit it off, becoming fast friends. Oscar is exceedingly wealthy and quite generous, immediately inviting Julian to stay with him in his enormous Brook Street home rather than living in a hotel. The two become inseparable, attending social functions together, going to the club, and just enjoying one another’s company. Each quickly recognizes that the other shares a desire for men, and soon they begin a hot sexual affair as well.
Although Julian cares for Oscar deeply, he has not stopped his search for a rich wife. Even though part of him is aware how hurt Oscar will be when he finds out, Julian sees no other options for himself. And Oscar is in fact quite devastated when he learns of Julian’s plans. After years of feeling lonely and unwanted, he finally feels part of something with Julian. They have grown so close and it hurts him badly to find that Julian has been seeking someone else all along. Julian now must look deep inside and evaluate what he really wants out of life, even if it is not what he ever expected.
I really loved this book and especially the characters of Julian and Oscar. Oscar is so sweet and lovely, generous with his friends and always ready with a smile. It is clear that he is a lonely man. He lost both his parents early in life and was forced to move in with an aunt and uncle who didn’t really want him and just appreciated his money. Although he has lots of friends, he doesn’t feel like he is that one special person to anyone. Everyone seems to have someone else more important in their lives and he is so happy when he meets Julian because the two of them form a tight bond so quickly and easily. I could feel a lot of sympathy for him, but also enjoyed his lovely personality and easy grin.
I found Julian the most interesting because he could have so easily been an unlikeable character. Yet in March’s hands, I found that I could really understand him and what is driving him. Julian’s family was forced to leave London when his father’s gambling and drinking and bad reputation became too much to bear. He grew up with a lot of financial uncertainty, something he wants to avoid now at all costs. Julian has always felt like an outcast, being from the wrong side of the family, and he desperately seeks the financial stability and societal acceptance that would come from a wealthy, successful match.
Despite the fact that he continues to look for a wife, his feelings for Oscar are genuine. It is always clear to me that Julian truly likes and cares for Oscar. I never felt he was using him for his money or his connections. While Julian might have been blinded by his goals, it doesn’t make his feelings for Oscar any less real. And when he finally realizes what he is doing and what he really wants, Julian is willing to work hard and sacrifice in order to make things right. We really see him grow throughout the book so I couldn’t help but root for him to succeed.
As with all of March’s books, the relationship between Julian and Oscar is super hot (I especially loved the scene in the theater with Oscar’s grabby hands!). And I really enjoyed the chance to see Benjamin and Cavin again, albeit briefly. I really enjoyed this story and am so looking forward to the final installment. Wonderful book, definitely recommended.