The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting by K.J. Charles (The Gentlemen of Uncertain Fortune #1)

Robin Loxleigh and his sister Marianne are the hit of the Season, so attractive and delightful that nobody looks behind their pretty faces. 

Until Robin sets his sights on Sir John Hartlebury's heiress niece. The notoriously graceless baronet isn't impressed by good looks, or fooled by false charm. He's sure Robin is a liar—a fortune hunter, a card sharp, and a heartless, greedy fraud—and he'll protect his niece, whatever it takes. 

Then, just when Hart thinks he has Robin at his mercy, things take a sharp left turn. And as the grumpy baronet and the glib fortune hunter start to understand each other, they also find themselves starting to care—more than either of them thought possible. 

But Robin's cheated and lied and let people down for money. Can a professional rogue earn an honest happy ever after? 

CONTRIBUTOR(S): Cornell Collins (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Tantor Audio
YEAR: 2021
LENGTH: 276 pages (8 hours)
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Historical, Romance

Queer Rep Summary: Gay/Achillean Main Character(s), Closeted Main Character(s).

I was amused by Robin and Marianne's names, wondering at first if this was meant to be a retelling of some sort. It's not, but the choice to have Robin and Marianne of Loxleigh as poor people trying to make matches with rich people to obtain their fortunes is no accident. 

Hart is initially suspicious of Robin, a fact not helped by the reality that Robin is a scammer trying to marry Hart's niece. To allow him to escape a gambling debt, Robin proposes a month where it he is at Hart's disposal, specifically but not only for sex. Because of the framework of their original agreement, and the fact that Robin is a scammer, the transition from contracted sex to genuine intimacy takes a few tries to figure out. I like that Hart isn't able to smoothly switch the terms of their arrangement, he and Robin have to each decide what they want and how they're willing to get it. All of this is complicated by the need to work around Marianne's attempts to snare a rich but odious man, as the other half of the siblings' plan for wealth and stability. I'm generally stressed out by lying in relationships, but the way this was handled avoided that completely. Robin is a scammer, Hart suspects it from the beginning, and then is right, so even though they have things to explain, it's not a sudden switch from trust to betrayal (at least not for the two of them). 

Things I love, in no particular order: the dynamic between Hart and Robin; Alice - everything about her, really; the showdown at the end; Marianne and Robin's relationship as siblings. While there is a planned sequel, this particular story seems complete as-is. The ending is a satisfying one that leaves room for the characters to appear in the background of future stories, at the very least. 

Graphic/Explicit CW for classism, sexual content

Moderate CW for cursing, sexism, alcohol, gambling, vomit.

Minor CW for emotional abuse, infidelity, slavery, trafficking 

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