Isabella's Rake

A Lord for Olivia

My Lady Ghost

Siege of Hearts

Abducting Amy by June Calvin
(Signet, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-451-20922-0
Based on this story, young gentlemen of the Regency era must be most unimaginative. They have only one approach to coercing an unwilling miss – abduct her. The heroine in this book is abducted not once, not twice, but three times. You’d think someone would realize that if at first you don’t succeed, you need another plan.

Amabel Armstrong is spectacularly beautiful. Her avaricious, brutal uncle Victor Colbourne, Lord Brinker, sees her as a way to increase his coffers. He will give her a Season, but whoever offers for her must be prepared to pay. Amabel agrees to his scheme because her widowed mother is in a frail condition, and her uncle promises retribution that will surely imperil his sister’s very life. Amabel tries to charm her uncle and gets him to agree that he won’t marry her against her will.

Men are overwhelmingly attracted to Amabel. Several young men are especially smitten including Christopher Ponselle, the nephew of the earl of Maxbridge. Max is taken aback when he learns that Chris has tried to boost his chances with the beautiful Amabel by describing himself as the heir presumptive of a wealthy but elderly uncle.

Max is struck by Amabel’s beauty but knows she must be a faithless fortune hunter because his first love cast him aside for his titled older brother. He knows that all women are only out for their best interests and are incapable of constancy. Max observes the actions of several men who are fiercely desirous of wedding Amabel but is unwilling to admit that she might be the reluctant victim of her uncle’s stratagems. He and Victor clashed over Victor’s punishment of his men when both were in the Army, and Max knows him to be vicious and cruel.

Victor supports the suit of the elderly roue, Marquess of Vendercroft, because he knows he will pay dearly for the beautiful young Amabel. Max believes this is further proof that she is only looking for a rich husband. Amabel is abducted yet another time before he wonders if he may have misinterpreted her motives.

Max is one of those heroes who distrusts all women because one done him wrong. Forget evidence to the contrary, nothing can dissuade him from believing that every word, every action proves her mercenary motives. He’s also convinced that she’s deliberately trying to throw herself at him. The big mystery in this plot is why Amabel ever falls in love with this conceited jerk. She beautiful, she’s intelligent, she’s considerate, but in his mind she’s a women so she must be a fortune hunter. Why would she want to marry a man so single-mindedly incapable of trust?

Her choices range from bad to worst. Vendercroft is old and half-crazy. Chris and his friends are superficial and none too bright. Another suitor encouraged by Victor is coarse and mean to children. Victor is greedy and cruel. Frankly, Amabel’s best alternative is to hope for early widowhood because there isn’t a decent guy in the whole bunch.

And that’s too bad because Amabel is a likeable heroine, maybe a little manipulative, but a girl’s got to watch out for herself, right? She’s devoted to her mother - one of those weak, spineless, helpless types – but she’s made of sterner stuff. When Amabel assures another character that she’s capable of handling Vendercroft, it is quite apparent that she can if anyone can.

A good romance needs a twosome a reader can be happy for and that requires a worthy hero. In spite of its appealing heroine, Abducting Amy is not a Regency romance I can recommend.

--Lesley Dunlap

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