The Abducted Heiress
The Abducted Heiress takes place in Restoration England, a too little used setting, and the Great Fire of London plays an integral role in the novel. I enjoyed the fantastic setting in this charming and appealing romance, even though the charm of the heroine dimmed a little for me during the course of the book.
Lady Desire Godwin, a reclusive heiress, believes herself safe in her home from any dangers from the outside world; she is shocked when three men appear on the roof where she is tending to her garden and try to abduct her. Fortunately, her steward arrives and ruthlessly kills two of the men. Horrified by the sight of the bodies, Desire halts her steward and her other servants from lynching the remaining man, ordering another trusted member of her staff to instead escort the man unharmed to prison.
A few days later, an enormous fire rages through London. In the confusion of the guards moving the inmates from the prison to a safer one, Jakob Smith escapes. Concerned about the safety of the woman who saved him from a lynching, he makes his way through the smoke-filled streets to her house. He’s shocked to find her still there. Desire could not bear to leave her home, so she created a false impression to her departing servants that she left with one of the two outbound parties. Although Desire fights him like a wildcat, Jakob manages to truss her and remove her from the house.
Desire cannot believe her erstwhile kidnapper tries to take her again and this time succeeds. Never mind that he is tall and virile and looks like an archangel, he is spiriting her away to parts unknown. But despite the obvious tension between captor and captive, Desire and Jakob soon find themselves surprisingly and increasingly attracted to each other.
The Abducted Heiress is a mostly enjoyable book and one that would easily fit into AAR’s Held Captive Special Title Listings, even though Jakob claims he has rescued Desire and now wants to protect her from the real person who set up her abduction. Of course, she doesn’t believe him and rains blows and insults on his poor head for some time. But don’t feel sorry for him – he actually enjoys her fiery nature and soon channels it into passionate kisses.
Desire received her unusual name because her father wanted one of his children to live past infancy. She believes herself unattractive to men due to the noticeable scars on her face, a result of the fighting in the Civil War when she was a child. Her one brief experience with a young nobleman ended in painful humiliation and, too unworldly to determine a trustworthy suitor from a fortune hunter, Desire withdrew from society, a recluse for six years until Jakob barged into her life.
Thornton has given us a decidedly fresh hero. Jakob Smith is actually Jakob Balston, born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden. He is 100% Swede, not an Englishman in Swedish clothing. At 17, his father and he suddenly became the next in line to inherit the title and considerable estates of an English earl. He resents his destiny because it would not allow him to stay in Sweden and become a successful merchant as his father was. Jakob intentionally accepted a part in Desire’s abduction, but not for purposes of harming her. He notices her scars, but he also sees past them to her beauty.
In fact, Jakob tells Desire of his increasing attraction to her and she does not believe him. Later, he tells her again, and she refuses to believe him again. One or two more scenes like this play out. Listen – if a gorgeous guy looks you straight in the eye and tells you more than once that he desires your body, I think you should stop arguing with him. Not Desire. This was my only real frustration with the book, but since Desire has esteem issues because of her scars, I gave her a little slack. However, I would love to hear Jakob call me älskling (hint: use a translator).
The depiction of the Great Fire of London is fascinating, but the author doesn’t let it overshadow the romance. She cleverly blends historical details throughout the story rather than bogging down the pace with overstuffed descriptive passages, creating a thoughtful picture of the Restoration era. She also gets the characters right – these are not modern people dressed in Stuart Era fashions nor people transplanted from a Regency-era historical, but people who belong in 1666. How great is that?
The Abducted Heiress is a good book with a great atypical setting and hero. The next book in the series, featuring Jakob’s cousin, promises to be just as fun. I am looking forward to reading it.