Sometimes, as genius as an author might be, they can unconsciously follow the wrong path after walking the more favorable one. After the Abduction is a vivid example of Sabrina Jeffries’ failure to keep up her good work. At least, in my opinion. First published in 2002, the book fails to convince me that it has the quality of both A Dangerous Love and A Notorious Love, or that it’s not only a bodice-ripper historical romance anyone can enjoy. Its lack of strong foundation of a premise and superb characters shake my previous opinion that Jeffries’ Swanlea Spinsters series has something more about it.
Two years after her abduction, Lady Juliet Laverick is looking for the man who kidnaps her in the past. When she comes to see Sebastian Blakely in a digging mission with her sister Lady Rosalind and brother-in-law Griff Knighton, she has a very bad feeling that he is the culprit, the man who takes her away from her family to trade her for a tidbit of information about his brother, the man who fills her dreams for over two years. Oddly, the man doesn’t use the same name, and Juliet believes it’s only a camouflage, a mask he deliberately puts on his face to hide the actual truth. Somehow, Juliet can sense that Sebastian Blakely is Morgan Pryce who seduces her into elopement with him, from his eyes, his voice, his attitude and behavior. But no matter how hard Juliet forces him into a corner, Sebastian won’t admit that he is Morgan Pryce and keeps lying about his true feelings and identity. It’s going on and on and on until Sebastian finally gives up and Juliet gets the truth she wants. But this hide and seek continues to go on when Juliet demands Sebastian to reveal himself to her family and he refuses to do so. All you get for almost hundreds of pages are only their pride, dignity, selfishness, and stubbornness. There is not much of a story.
Despite her great effort, Juliet Laverick still looks childish and immature to me. She may be already grown up, in how she looks and how she behaves, but her stubbornness and childish insistence make her look like the much younger version of herself. I don’t view stubbornness as a bad thing, sometimes we need to be stubborn. But her stubbornness is too much to bear. I know that the trait has been Sabrina Jeffries’ trademark in almost all of her stories, but that doesn’t mean that all of the readers have to accept it voluntarily. And the character of Sebastian Blakely doesn’t seem to balance her, either. He has the family’s dignity to defend and a beloved brother to protect, which makes him just as poorly headstrong. His cool, calm, collected behavior only strengthens his annoying nature and worsens the already disgusting narrative. His firmness in keeping his secret may be admirable, and his determination to protect his brother and his family’s name is quite understandable. But all those things only drag the story too far away to be irresistible, or enjoyable.
Sabrina Jeffries is a brilliant romance writer, at least in my opinion, but I don’t find anything great about Juliet and Sebastian’s story. Instead, the side story in which Griff Knighton and Lady Rosalind are battling with trust to each other and still longing for children gets more of my attention. Their marriage problem seems to me more significant to make a story, rather than the urge to know who has kidnapped you in the past or having a Stockholm syndrome after it. The whole narrative is so frustrating that it’s even too far away from being good enough. And there is nothing new, too, since Jeffries hasn’t gotten out of her usual pattern of plot yet. After the Abduction is a huge disappointment to me, it has no compelling story, no deep characters, no emotions, no lesson to learn, no heart-wrenching moments, no serious problem, no funny jokes nor nice humor, no witty conversations. Everything is dull. The only good point about this book is its style of writing, which is, I have to admit, still nice to follow.
All in all, I can say that I seriously won’t recommend After the Abduction to anyone, unless you’re a die-hard fan of Sabrina Jeffries. The fact that it received a certain award doesn’t help me to have a better opinion of the book. And I’m so sorry about it.