Fortune Hunter also available in
The Brook Street Collection
Fortune Hunter – Novella
Brook Street Series, Book #2
Regency-set M/M erotic romance
Release date: 4/9/2012
Word count: 43,560
Page count: 181 (pdf)
Publisher: Carina Press
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Impoverished Julian Parker returns to London with one goal: marry an heiress. He'll do whatever it takes, even if it means denying his desire for men. After all, with a fortune comes happiness and social acceptance—which have eluded Julian his entire life.
The only things a vast fortune has brought Oscar Woodhaven are greedy relatives and loneliness. At twenty-one years of age, he has everything a man could possibly want—except someone to love him. When he meets devastatingly handsome Julian Parker, he believes his luck has turned.
Between Oscar's lavish gifts and their searing hot nights, Julian is caught between what he thinks he needs and what his heart truly desires. But when a betrayal threatens to tear them apart, Julian discovers he'll do whatever it takes to convince Oscar the greatest fortune of all is love.
Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: male/male sexual practices.
© Ava March
"No, but we could take my curricle to Hyde Park if the weather holds. Five is the fashionable hour. I could make some more introductions, if you'd like."
"All right." More names to add to the mass in his head, but that was why Julian was in London. To ingratiate himself with the ton and be well on his way to a sleek, black town carriage and a home of his own by the beginning of summer. The thought of summer snagged on something Woodhaven had said earlier. "You mentioned you came to Town last summer. I take it you came down from the country?"
"Yes. I resided with my aunt and uncle in Yorkshire."
"Did you spend most of your time with them, or did you go to university?"
"No university for me, or any form of public schooling. My uncle thought it best I have tutors. Was set to go to Eton, but..." With a shrug, Woodhaven dropped his attention to his brandy, traced the lip of his glass with the tip of one finger. A chunk of his auburn forelock fell over his brow, the ends grazing his lashes. "My father passed, and my mother's sister and husband took me in. Tutors offer a superior education, or so I'm told," he added, with a fleeting glance to Julian.
The frown, even though a mere hint, pulling his mouth looked so...foreign on Woodhaven, as if it did not belong. Dimming the brightness in his eyes. Casting a pallor on his cheerful spirit. The loneliness practically radiated from him.
A loneliness Julian well understood. He had experienced it firsthand, though in his case he'd learned how one could feel lonely in a crowd of peers. "I went to Eton for a few years, and I can say with certainty that the experience is worth missing. You should count yourself fortunate to have avoided it."
"Didn't have a good go at it?" Woodhaven asked, with concern and a bit of hope, as well.
"No. Not in the slightest."
"Why ever not? I would have thought..." He flicked his fingers, the gesture encompassing Julian's polished evening shoes to the top of his head. "You cut a fine figure." As soon as the words left his lips, he went still. His gaze briefly darted about the room, a blush daring to bring some color back to his cheeks. Then he took a quick swallow of brandy.
Ah. Woodhaven still had not figured out that Julian preferred men. Not that he'd made it easy for the man to deduce it on his own. Yet.
He caught Woodhaven's gaze. Held it. "Thank you. But boys there don't much care about such things." One's family, where one had come from and who one was related to, had been of paramount importance.
"So why didn't you have a good go at it?"
Dragging his free hand across the back of his neck, Julian let out a sigh. Might as well tell Woodhaven now. The man was bound to find out sooner or later. And Julian would rather find out now, before he unpacked his meager bag or kissed those full lips, if it would cause Woodhaven to change his opinion about him. The snubs were the worst when they came from someone he called friend.
"I'm one of those Parkers. You know, there are Parkers and then there are Parkers." The blank stare indicated Woodhaven did not know, so he explained. "Benjamin's my second cousin, our grandfathers were brothers. His, of course, was the eldest. Mine the youngest. Lord Albert Parker was...well, the polite term is a fop. And my father had a bit of a gambling issue, among other things, and well-known at that." A bit was putting it very lightly. His father hadn't been able to stay away from the tables, no matter the number of vowels he'd already written or the desperate pleas from Julian's mother. Gambling, liquor, whores—there hadn't been a vice the man could resist. "It's why we ended up leaving England. Anyway, suffice it to say, I spent a great many hours among my own company at Eton."
"I'm sorry," Woodhaven said, weighed down with regret. "Boys can be cruel." True empathy filled his dark eyes. Not a trace of condescension or pity. Only compassion and understanding.
The revelation struck Julian—Woodhaven understood what it felt like to be snubbed, slighted, to have another look down one's nose at him. The man possessed a fortune, was fully welcome among Society—judging from Julian's experience with him at tonight's ball—and his education had been confined to his relative's home. Julian hadn't a notion where Woodhaven would have learned such a lesson in the cruelty of others, yet he had indeed learned it at some point.
"Indeed, boys can be cruel. And so can men. I am hopeful my old schoolmates prove themselves to have poor memories."
"Because I've had enough of their condescending whispers. Rather not have to endure them during the Season. Tonight went well, though. Perhaps I have the passage of time to thank. It's been a decade since my family left England. My illustrious father died in America, so he hasn't been back to stir up the gossipmongers. And I had my cousin's support. Attending with Lord Benjamin Parker certainly helped."
"You have my support as well, for what it's worth."
Julian blinked, taken aback by Woodhaven's sincerity. "T-Thank you, Woodhaven. Truly. You're a fine friend." He hadn't had a true friend, someone who cared enough to stand by his side, in ages...if ever.
An abashed little pleased smile curved the edges of Woodhaven's mouth, that faint blush once again warming his cheeks. "You're a fine friend as well," he murmured, his gaze locked with Julian's.
Julian held his gaze. Woodhaven had beautiful eyes. A rich brown, the color of polished mahogany. Large and expressive. He could read everything in them. Blatant interest, an eagerness to please, hesitation. He watched as that hesitation faded, giving way to surprise and uncertainty, as if Woodhaven still wasn't completely sure if his interest was returned.
Footsteps sounded in the corridor outside the door. Probably one of the many servants retiring for the night.
The sound broke the spell. Those dark eyes broke contact.
Woodhaven cleared his throat then set his glass down on the side table. "It's getting late. I best retire. Don't want to keep my valet up until dawn waiting for me." He stood and began to cross to the door but stopped by the foot of the bed. He turned back to Julian. "If you leave your clothes out, a servant will have them cleaned and pressed in the morning."
The man likely thought he only had the clothes on his back. The bag wasn't empty. He had brought two coats with him, which he needed to replace but hadn't since he'd been saving to come to London, along with enough shirts and trousers for the journey across the Atlantic. But rather than point that out to Woodhaven, Julian merely stood and nodded his thanks.
Yet Woodhaven didn't make another move toward the door. He lingered by the bed, his gaze going to the mattress, the navy coverlet drawn back exposing the pristine white sheet, and then back to Julian. Capturing the edge of his bottom lip between his teeth, he shifted his weight.
Julian read the invitation clear as day in Woodhaven's eyes. If he wanted Woodhaven, the man would be his. He could order Woodhaven to drop his trousers and bend over the side of the bed, and the man would enthusiastically do as bid. He'd likely even thank Julian for buggering him.
It was just the sort of invitation he had been waiting for...
"Oh Ava March, you have captured my heart with this series. FORTUNE HUNTER is the second book of the Brook Street series and I have to say that if you are a fan of historical M/M erotica, then Ava March is a must-read!" - Under the Covers Book Blog
"The sex scenes are really hot... and they're wonderfully realistic." - Red Hot Books
"A smooth and accomplished addition to the Brook Street trilogy with likeable characters and a good dose of tension. I don't think Ava March can write a bad book. There's an art to writing a novella and she always manages to nail it." - Reviews by Jessewave
"A beautifully detailed Regency romance that is deliciously steamy and sexy." - Reviews and More by Kathy
"I really loved this book and especially the characters of Julian and Oscar." - Joyfully Jay
"I love this book. Love it to bits. I want to hug it and squeeze it and call it George." - Flight into Fantasy
"Julian and Oscar were my favorite Brook Street heroes - I understood and felt their motivations from beginning to end, and I loved seeing their friendship turn into romance." - Insta-Love