Beggars Can’t Be Choosier

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From Reader Katie:

It was like being tucked in the corner of a drawing room and observing the lives of friends. The emerging tenderness between Katherine and Brian provides affirmation of both an intense intimate life but also, as both characters acknowledge, an emotional and mental accord that twines between them like ivy on a cottage. The book is entirely free of the recent trend in romances to hurl the hero and heroine into adversarial straightjackets so the resolution is a strain to declare a happy ending. However, this is no two dimensional facsimile of the hay-day of Regency publishing either.

Katherine is a formidable woman, made so by life, her own will and her late father’s fortune. She is not crusading or rebelling; she desires to be something more than expectations might grant and is determined to do so in a way society will accept. Shunned by a family unknown to her and then the society of India where her father had not only made his fortune but also a difference, Katherine understands the narrow paths allowed to her and though there are moments she frets, she does not falter. She plans, prepares and progresses without becoming an anti-heroine, more than once I found myself thinking: Yes, that’s how it was done. (More)

From Reader Francine:

When a Regency earl accepts the unfortunate circumstance of an earldom that is asset rich and cash poor, it is imperative to live within one’s means or lose face and the admiration of one’s peers. And so, Brian Earl of Aftlake, blithely lending himself to the pursuit of happiness as he knows it, his ambition is solely to enhance his standing by way of an agreeable marriage to a darling of a girl, but Fate conspires to scuttle his plans and blight his future fortunes.

But, if a young lady of great wealth and no rank has an eye to a title, there are ways and means to acquire one’s heartfelt desire. And Miss Katherine Chandler has Fate on her team and that of attractive attributes. Hence, a business proposition, of which Katherine assures Brian of immense gain, not least within the marital bed and that of his purse, proves mighty tempting. Dash it all, what must a man do?

Beggars Can’t Be Choosier is a traditional sweet Regency tale of fortunes lost and fortunes gained. With a mixed bag of characters, emotional misunderstandings and passionate dalliances, the author presents a reader with sense of time and place and attention to finite detail. A charming read


From Reader Linda: It has been less than five minutes since I finished the first Regency romance I have read since I was in college, and my smile has yet to fade. I am still not certain whether I am in my desert lair or in a drawing room in London waiting for the sweetcakes and champagne promised to the guests assembled there. It seems that I have been away too long. What a miracle that a gentleman who lives in nearby Hemet by the the name of David William Wilkin could so magically transport a colleague on the far side of Mount San Jacinto all the way to London and into a society where elegance and grace were the talismans, but title and wealth were everything.

It would be dishonest to say I was captured in the first paragraph, or even in the first few pages. But I did get the message that a main character in the story was an earl whose pedigree was more impressive than his bank balance, and who was striving to live within a very limited income while still fulfilling the social obligations of a peer. He is living in what we would call a rooming house and having his shoes resoled, but he still dines with a group of men appropriate to his station. And each and every one of them is hunting for an heiress. That revelation was not especially provocative or new. 

I can site a long list of famous men who were fortune hunters from France’s Henri II who married Catherine de Medici for her fortune, not her looks, and Scotland’s famous roué, James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, who seemed to handfast or actually wed women he did not love whenever he was faced with mounting debt. At least in our group of drawing room bachelors, our protagonist Brian, Earl of Alfleck, is the least inspired of his friends when it comes to grabbing the first heiress who crosses his path. In fact, he is rather waiting in the wings for his childhood best friend Lady Sally to grow mature enough to appreciate him in a less platonic light than that of confidante and soul mate.
Enter Katherine.

Katherine is everything any man in Brian’s tightknit circle of fortune hunters could want. She is beautiful, unencumbered, intelligent, mysterious and incredibly rich—some have said as rich as the royals. But there is more to Katherine than meets the eye—she too has a craving. She is the daughter of a bastard, a self-made man who made a fortune in India and left it to his only daughter, but who never knew or at least did not acknowledge who his father was— Katherine is committed to solve the puzzle. To do so, she needs to be accepted at the higher tiers of polite society, the notorious well born, well bred and wealthy social clique know in Regency Romance as the Ton, a term which was as strange to me as the term Sgian Duhb would be to someone who does not read Scottish historicals. Hence, the incredibly wealthy Katherine has come to London shopping for a man of title, and she has done her homework and settled on the earl of Alfleck, our thrifty, reasonably honorable Brian. And here is where the story deviates from the norm. She neither seduces him nor entices him. She invited him to dinner and propositions him. The deal is simple. They marry, she clears his debts so they can regain possession of his family estate which is leased to some who can afford its upkeep, she provides a reasonable allowance and he provides her with his title and a public illusion of wedded bliss until a year after she had whelped a male heir and which time her position in society will be guaranteed and his finances will be substantially repaired. At first our noble peer is aghast at so blunt a  proposal, but then a quick trip to Lady Sally’s estates outside of London to test the waters there and he realizes that he is a valued friend, and nothing more. So Brian excepts the proposition and the real story is launched.

Like most things written in the manner of Regency Goddess Jane Austen, the story suffers because so much of the action occurs in the somewhat stilted environment of the drawing room and club, but that is what the Regency Romance is made of. We glimpse behind the propriety projected by the polite society of the day into some of the more forbidden topics such as childbirth and the female body. We also see some underlying vices exposed, and discourses on the proper role of a woman, and the fine art of gambling sneaks into the story. In Katherine’s almost pathological need to be accepted in a society that without her title would shun her in spite of her wealth, we see some of the same hypocrisy we see in the vestiges of drawing room society surviving in the present day.The language Wilkin employs in his dialogue, although not stilted, is as appropriate to the early 18th Century setting as is the references to the phenomena of sex. Wilkin lets us know it is happening, but it is happening beneath the sheets, and we can only judge its quality by the fatigue it produces in the actors. This is not a Highland Romance novel. There may be a hint of the forbidden, as in an open dressing gown, but as in an original Austen novel, not a single bodice will be ripped. And yet, Wilkin produces a sexual tension and release that arouses but does not offend the tender sensibilities of the drawing room crowd in the milieu in which he writes.

Once immersed in the story, it moved quite well for me, and I pronounce myself cured of my aversion to this genre. I will indeed visit the drawing rooms of the darlings of the Regency Romance again, and soon. It left me with a nice glow. And yes, a thirst for champagne and a taste for sweet cakes. And a day later, my smile remains. Reviewers applaud Mr.Wilkin’s high degree of expertise in dealing with the Regency Romance genre.

Reading and reviewing Beggars Can’t be Choosier has been a delight.

And Most Importantly, the Award for Outstanding Historical Romance from Romance Reviews Magazine:

And  a 2015 nominee for a RONE Award 

Why wait? Order your copy of Beggars Can’t Be Choosier, the entrancing, compelling and award-winning Regency Romance available now in e-book and soft cover formats.

© Regency Assembly Press 2014