4.5 stars. Review originally published here: http://thebookpushers.com/2013/02/11/review-the-autumn-bride-by-anne-gracie/
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
Anne Gracie is “always terrific,”* and now the award-winning author delivers a brand-new series about four young women on the verge of destitution—until a daring act changes their fortune and transforms each of them into a glowing bride…
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…
*Mary Jo Putney
This blurb came from Goodreads.
Anne Gracie is a new-to-me author that I discovered while browsing Netgalley. Apparently I was in the mood for historicals since I ended up requesting several during that round of browsing. The Autumn Bride’s cover and title seemed indicative of a historical so I took a look at the blurb. Four young women, almost out of money – check, refusing to give into a bad situation – check, elderly society lady decided to take a hand – check, request submitted – check. Gracie certainly delivered what she promised in the blurb and I am eagerly looking forward to the next installment in the Chance Sisters series.
Abby worked as a governess trying to make ends meet while her younger sister, Jane, was safe living in a home for foundlings. They were left to survive after the death of their parents and their estranged grandparents would have nothing to do with them. On her way back to work after her half-day Abby was stopped by a questionable looking young woman who convinced Abby to follow her so she could rescue Jane. When they reached their destination, which was in a really bad part of town she was told to come back at a certain time with a cloak and shoes. After Abby arrived back from her half-day she asked permission from her employers to bring her sister back for a night to two due to unforeseen circumstances and was told “no”. Undaunted Abby went back late that night to what she find out is a brothel and rescues not only Jane but also two other ladies. She sneaks them back to her place of employment. The next morning when they are discovered she has the choice to turn them out or turn them out. Instead Abby quits and the four ladies decide they will make their way together as sisters. One night out of desperation Abby decided to try to find something to steal and encountered a neglected old lady, Lady Beatrice. After a few conversations with the Lady Beatrice they hatched a plan for Abby and her sisters to move in with their “aunt.” In doing so Abby and her sisters saved her and she in turn gave them hope for their future. Abby really wanted a family of her own so with the three other girls and Lady Beatrice she was perfectly happy until a certain nephew actually showed up.
Max found out the hard way the state of his family’s finances when he unexpectedly received the title 9 years ago. He was able to save the ancestral home and his aunt’s house at the cost of striking a deal with a member of the New Money merchant class. He received a water-damaged note that caused him some concern about his aunt so he returned back to England a year early. Max had repaid the financial part of his deal but he still had one final thing to do before he completely repaid the debt but first he has to find out what was happening with his Aunt. Upon his arrival he started off visiting the company that handled his aunt’s finances to be told that some strange young woman moved in, fired the staff that was there, and was generally mismanaging things so Max appeared at Lady Beatrice’s with the intention of saving his aunt from those who thought they could take advantage of her.
I had a absolute blast watching Max have to eat his early words and actions towards Abby and her sisters. He showed so much love towards his Aunt and even though he wasn’t sure about what the four girls were bringing to his Aunt’s life but he felt protective towards them which turned out to be a very good thing when those who were involved in Jane’s trip to the brothel tried to remove any potential witnesses. That was the one weakest part of the story because I knew who was involved almost from the beginning but I still enjoyed how things turned out with the villains.
While Max was busy trying to discover Abby’s past Lady Beatrice was busy trying to expose the girls to polite society so they could meet decent men and possibly expand their dreams of the future to include marriage. I think the favorite thing she did was to tell some of her visitors that the girls were her nieces through a series of affairs and word of their lineage spread throughout her friends like wildfire much to Max’ mortification. Lady Beatrice had so much fun working with the girls and brightening their lives while frustrating her nephew’s sense of propriety. There was something special about the fact that she no longer worried about the outward appearance but instead focused on being happy. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
Max and Abby struck sparks off of each other from their very initial meeting. It was a lot of fun to see them argue, try to one-up each other yet keep appearances civil in front of Lady Beatrice. Abby really wanted to keep him unaware of their background because she feared he would use that as an excuse to kick them out. Max really wanted to find out Abby and her “sisters” background because he wasn’t sure they should be trusted around his Aunt. Despite the rising attraction between Max and Abby he still had the final part of his debt to pay, marriage to the daughter of the man who loaned him the money he needed 10 years ago. I absolutely LOVED how Gracie dealt with the issue of the very long-standing engagement. It was a much more satisfying ending to a previous engagement than most that I have read.
Gracie has created some pretty memorable characters in The Autumn Bride. I enjoyed their interactions, how they didn’t fit the mold, and their individual determination to achieve their dreams. I really enjoyed the slow building romance between Max and Abby not to mention the growing friendship and confidence of her sisters. As a result I am certainly looking forward to the rest of this series as well as looking into Gracie’s backlist.
I give The Autumn Bride an A-