The Autumn Bride
Berkley / February 5, 2013 / $7.99 print,digital
Governess Abigail Chantry will do anything to save her sister and two dearest friends from destitution, even if it means breaking into an empty mansion in the hope of finding something to sell. Instead of treasures, though, she finds the owner, Lady Beatrice Davenham, bedridden and neglected. Appalled, Abby rousts Lady Beatrice's predatory servants and—with Lady Beatrice's eager cooperation—the four young ladies become her “nieces,” neatly eliminating the threat of disaster for all concerned!
It's the perfect situation, until Lady Beatrice’s dashing and arrogant nephew, Max, Lord Davenham, returns from the Orient—and discovers an impostor running his household…
A romantic entanglement was never the plan for these stubborn, passionate opponents—but falling in love may be as inevitable as the falling of autumn leaves.
The Autumn Bride is the first book in Anne Gracie's Chance sisters' series. There is nothing more enjoyable then a beautifully written, sweet romance where you watch two people fall in love—and The Autumn Bride is precisely that. Abby and Max have a passionately confrontational beginning, and turn those passions into an ardent love affair.
While the focus of our romance is usually our hero and heroine, in this story the even more compelling storyline is the bond forged between Abby and her “sisters.” Abigail Chantry was working as a governess in London when she was approached by a young, pretty housemaid by the name of Daisy, who urged her to hurry and follow because Abby’s sister, Jane, was in danger. Jane had been on her way to Hereford to become a companion. When she stopped along her route, she was drugged, kidnapped and brought to a London brothel. Jane was saved by the quick thinking of Daisy and another captive girl, Damaris.
“I think we should stay together,” Abby said. She’d given it a lot of thought during the night.
Daisy said in a cautious tone, “What, all of us? Me included!”
“Yes, all of us,” Abby said firmly. “Mama used to say. ‘A woman without family is so vulnerable,’ and she was right. Alone each of us is vulnerable, but together we can be stronger, like a family.”
“Four orphans: one family,” Damaris said. “I like the sound of that.”
The girls are bonded in more than simple friendship by these events and in this new sisterhood, the girls are determined to work hard, pool their monies and try for a new life in Bath, a place where the rich and poorer classes mingle and the younger girls might find good husbands. Things are not turning out as planned, but the girls refuse to separate, and when Jane falls ill, Abby is desperate to get her some medicine. Abby decides to climb into the window of a neighboring building. The window is always open and no lights are ever on. She hopes to pocket some small trinket that she can pawn to buy medicine.
When she climbs into the window, it is not treasure that she finds. Lady Beatrice Davenham lies bedridden in her filthy room, already robbed by her servants and fed only enough gruel to keep her alive so they could continue to steal her monthly income. Lady Beatrice is more than simply dejected, she hopes for death to free her from her prison. Even though Abby’s first attempt at burglary is for naught, Abby cannot forget the tough, bright woman left to suffer and she once again climbs into her window to check on this sad Lady.
“Back again, Miss Burglar, are you?” the voice rasped from the dusty shadows of the bed. “Bring a bullet for me this time?”
“No, soup,” Abby said
“I thought it might make a nice change from gruel.”
Lady Beatrice learns the story of Abby and her sisters and welcomes them to come live at Davenham House with her. Through the care and the companionship of her new “nieces,” Lady Beatrice regains both her good health and her usual feisty exuberance for life.
“I’ll take the very best care of you, as if you were indeed my beloved aunt. We all will.”
“I believe you child. You’ve already done me a power of good.”
Abby was puzzled. “In what way?”
“I was so bored before you came along! Now I have gels in breeches climbing through my window at all hours of the night, bringing me soup and conversation and plotting to sack my butler. And gels bringing me cats and kittens, and who knows what else? For the first time in…oh, forever, I want to see what the next day brings.”
Abby looked at her in astonishment, then found herself grinning. “It’s going to be an adventure for all of us, isn’t it?”
“It is, dear gel, it is,” Lady Beatrice said. “And I can’t wait.”
Although the bond that grows between the sisters was enchanting, the absolute scene stealer is the Grand Dame, Lady Beatrice Davenham. It is this bond of sisterhood between all the ladies of Davenham House that makes this story a memorable treasure.
Lucy Dosch writes book reviews for her blog http://ebookobsessed.com. Her e-reader has turned her love of reading into an obsession. When she is not reading, she likes to spend time with her husband and two daughters.