Top positive review
65 people found this helpful
on 2 October 2000
The plot of this wonderful first novel by Karen Hawkins centres on an abduction of the wrong woman by Alec Hunterston - instead of the lovely Therese he ends up with the frumpy, bespectacled Julia - also known as the "Frant Dragon" as it is her unenviable task to chaperone her cousin, Therese.
Julia has loved Alec for four years and marries Alec in Therese's place so that he can comply with the terms of his Grandfather's will. She protects her pride by driving a hard bargain - he inherits but she bargains for half the fortune to enable her to pursue her great passion in life - REFORM. She also thinks she may be able to reform Alec from his rakehell ways - although in the end both she and Alec are changed.
Some plot elements are very reminiscent of Georgette Heyer (The Devil's Cub, which involves a similar elopement gone wrong; also Arabella, where the heroine collects strays and urchins). However this does not in any way detract from the freshness of the story and characters. To me it comes accross more as an affectionate nod to the roots of the genre.
The hero and heroine are neither of them perfect, but they develop through the book and because they seem real you care about them and their feelings for one another. I loved Julia's makeover - she did'nt suddenly become a raving beauty but as she said 'its amazing what clothes will do for a woman'. The change in Alec seemed realistic because he had got to the stage where he could see that maybe gambling, drinking and womanising were not the most totally fulfilling occupations in the world.
There is also a wonderful cast of secondary characters - the dark and romantic Lucien (I hope he gets his own story!), Mrs Winston the Housekeeper, Burroughs the Butler with a straight face (of course) and unexpected sense of humour, Maddie, who launches Julia and her son, Alec's friend, Edmund who has a heart of gold but, to put it kindly, not the largest brain in the world.
Even the villain, Nick, who is totally dastardly, is sexy and by the end, although he was totally awful...I could see him having his own story provided the heroine was EXTREMELY brave. The only one who was utterly irremedeemable throughout was horrid Therese - and I even felt sorry for her!
Whoops - I nearly left the most important bit out - this book is FUNNY - there are some wonderful laugh out loud moments - I really was chortling to myself and dying to grab someone and tell them the joke.
Apparently Karen Hawkins has written one other historical under the name of Kim Bennet, called One Lucky Lord, which I intend to order and she will be releasing "The Belated Bride" in January - I can't wait!