Saturday, October 9, 2010
What can a respectable Regency miss do when kidnapped by a nobleman intent on marriage? Why, marry him, of course.
Julia Frant has secretly loved Alec MacLean, the wild Viscount Hunterston from afar. So when he accidentally snatches her instead of her lovely, scheming cousin for an elopement to Gretna Green, Julia leaps at the chance to make her passionate dreams come true.
Alec's in no position to quibble: if he doesn't marry by midnight and live scandal-free for a year, he loses his inheritance. At least marriage with do-gooder Julia will guarantee his fortune.
But as his plain brown wren transforms herself into an elegant swan, Alec suddenly can't stay away from his last-minute wife - and when he kisses her, the inheritance is the last thing on his mind. Unfortunately, scandal can occur from the best of intentions... and Julia is never short of good intentions!
Another Regency by Karen Hawkins, one of my favorite historical romance authors! This was her first novel (correct me, if I'm wrong) and I loved it! Plain Jane nobody, Julia Frant is forced into a marriage of convenience with dashing rogue Alex MacLean so he can inherit his grandfather's estate. The usual miscommunication abounds. Do-gooder Julia uses Alec's newly inherited money to support her favorite charity for reformed wayward women while they both fight their desire to be more than man and wife, in name only.
Julia never expected to make such a spectacular marriage. Not nearly as beautiful as her cousin, Therese, Julia is looked on upon as a "poor relation," one step away from a paid companion. Next to Therese, she is positively dreary in comparison. With her spectacles, ordinary brown hair and frumpy clothes, she is definitely considered on the shelf. Even worse, she's now considered as a chaperon to her cousin who has loads of suitors - one of whom is Alec MacLean. Vain and selfish, Therese is not a very nice person and she has tricked Alec into thinking she will elope with him. Due to his grandfather's strange will, Alec must marry the daughter of the earl of Thingamummy. Therese is that daughter - hence why Alec needs to elope with her. If he does not marry her by his thirtieth birthday, the money in the will reverts to his unscrupulous cousin, Nick. Alec is desperate.
The plot gets a bit complicated, see if you can follow it with me. Alec has been duped by Therese. Instead of running off with her, he has abducted her dowdy cousin Julia! Therese is in cahoots with the disreputable Nick. She has deliberately misled Alec so Nick would get the money instead. Therese has a passion for Nick and intends to marry him, although Nick is not exactly of the same feeling. Time is running out for Alec, he's about to turn thirty and he has no wife! But, as luck would have it - Julia is also a daughter of the earl of Thingamummy - even if her father was only the earl for a few days before his death. How fortuitous! American born, Julia had lived in America all her life until her father died four years earlier. Due to his untimely end, she was forced to live in England with her cousin and aunt. During those four years she also has had time to moon over and fall in love with Alec MacLean, who, until now, has never looked twice at her, except to notice her as the Dragon Frant.
Julia convinces Alec to marry her and they start their arranged marriage together - in name only. She has a few conditions: 1) They will not consummate the marriage, after a year is up, they go their separate ways 2) She gets half the money so she can use if for her charities. Alec is in no position to object and agrees - despite the searing kiss they share together that promises to haunt both of them night and day.
Gradually, they settle into married life, but their sexual tension heightens daily. Alec finds he's becoming quite fond of his little wife and he's worried she's in love with his horrible cousin - Nick! Of course, he couldn't be further from the truth! Jealousy abounds, Julia becomes more and more puzzled by her husband's odd behavior and all the while they're both trying to avoid getting into some sort of scandal that will scuttle the inheritance - not easy since Nick is doing all he can, with the aid of the obnoxious Therese, to make sure they lose it!
Julia is a sweet and endearing heroine, yet holds her own and sticks to her guns with the devilishly handsome Alec, who's tearing his hair out by the end of the book due to the sexual frustration and jealousy he's experiencing over his wife, who he's fallen in love with! Their growing love for one another is a pleasure to follow as it unfolds and I really enjoyed this romance all the way up to the end! Julia blossoms into a beauty and Alec learns that money isn't everything as long as he has the woman he loves. A good love story with some humor and sizzle. The first in a series, which I'm eager to continue.