I used to shun Regency romance novels, preferring instead highland and medieval romances, but Karen Hawkin's The Abduction of Julia is a really good book that I think reading it might have led me to warm up to the sub-genre. It seems it only occured to me that the rigid etiquette of the ton and the double standards of their actions, not to mention the innumerable marriages of conveniences sets the scene for an endless array of hilarity and romance!
A marriage of convenience is exactly what ties Julia Frant and Viscount Alec Maclean to each other. Bound to a vow to his late grandfather, Alec finds himself eloping with and agreeing to marry Therese Frant, daughter of the Earl of Covington. To prevent his inheritance from going to the hands of his cousin Nick, he fulfills the demands in the will of his grandfather. Unfortunately, instead of Therese he finds his carriage carrying her cousin, the overprotective chaperone otherwise known as The Frant Dragon. Plain and spectacled, Julia does not catch his attention, until he finds that she was, once upon a time, the daughter of the other Earl of Covington. Hence begins the marriage and their attempts to engage with the ton and avoid scandals... not.
Not only have I warmed up to regency romances with this book, I appear to have also developed a penchant for regency romance revolving around marriage of conveniences! There is something absolutely delightful about regency wives and husbands fluttering about hiding their feelings for their loved ones, and I found that in The Abduction of Julia! I must say, the characters are every bit as loveable as the plot. Alec and Julia are both oblivious to each other's feelings, resulting in very comical but very romantic misunderstandings, which they make up for with some memorable scenes. I love Julia's transformation from plain to beautiful - it's highlighted, but not in a way which leads the readers to think that Alec's attraction it dependent on her beauty. It is clear from the start that it is her fiesty and compassionate attitude that pulled her to him. Alec can be insistent, insensitive and impulsive at times, but he carries the emotion in this book - quite a lovely character! The secondary characters deserve an applaud too, because they are a very entertaining bunch, from Edmund the excessive chatterbox to Burroughs, the old butler who never falters to bring Alex his warm glass of milk every night!
Despite the lovely characters and the fun plot, I found several loopholes in The Abduction of Julia. Firstly, there was a lack of detail surrounding the ton - I am fascinated by the ways of society and while I thought the book would focus a bit on it, it only passes over the detail very fleetingly. Secondly, the climax was not very thrilling, as it plays safe and stays on the romantic side. Finally, the ending is unsatisfactory and I did not feel that there was a resolution. Such a shame for a novel so fun!
Nevertheless, The Abduction of Julia is a wonderful indulgence in regency romance. Romance lovers would love this!