REVIEW: The Autumn Bride by Anne Gracie
Four women are bound together out of friendship and circumstances becoming the Chance “sisters”. Lady Beatrice claims them as her nieces, much to the annoyance of her nephew. What is a lord to do when his favorite aunt insists on creating a whopper of a story about these so-called nieces and introduces them to the ton?
Max, Lord Davenham, inherited his uncle’s title along with his enormous debt at the age of eighteen. The only thing worth remembering about his childhood is his Aunt Beatrice. Now that her husband has left her penniless, Max is determined to keep her in the lifestyle to which she’s accustomed while he makes up for his uncle’s sins. Max sells himself into servitude and, in turn, learns the shipping trade which years later sees that his debts are paid and he has enough money to go home to London to start anew.
Abigail “Abby” Chantry, orphaned along with her younger sister, earns a meager living as a governess. Abby and her sister, Jane, were left at the mercy of an orphanage when their parents died. Jane stayed behind when Abby went to work as a governess and has only recently found work herself as a lady’s companion. Or so Abby thought, until she’s approached by a maid who claims Jane has been drugged and taken to a brothel in London.
The maid, Daisy, helps Abby rescue Jane along with her friend, Demaris. These four girls, bound by circumstance, band together as sisters for their financial future, bleak as it might be.
When Jane becomes ill and their funds are too low to pay a doctor to help, Abby comes up with a desperate plan. There’s an empty home nearby that she’ll enter from the upper floor and see if she can steal anything worth selling. Surprisingly, the home isn’t empty but inhabited by a very ill, old woman, who has been abused and neglected by her servants. She catches Abby in the act of her burglary but doesn’t seem too upset about it. Abby can’t abide cruelty so she risks going back to see if she can help her. The woman, Lady Beatrice, is taken by Abby’s kindness and asks the girls to come live with her. After all, these strangers can hardly be worse than her current servants who are starving her to death.
Max gets word from one of his aunt’s oldest friends that his aunt may be in trouble. The letter is damaged on the way to the Orient where he’s been making a living, giving him only glimpses of what could be wrong, so the only thing to do is to get back to London as fast as possible. When he finds four young women posing as his aunt’s nieces and all the servants let go, he’s sure his aunt has been taken advantage of. Yet, these so-called nieces aren’t really making a decent wage from his aunt and the house looks the best it ever has. What are they up to and can he convince his aunt to get rid of them before it’s too late?
Poor Max. He really doesn’t stand a chance against all these women who are determined to stick together. Worse yet, Abby is just perfect for him and he has a devil of a time staying away from her. He has been promised to another for years and he doesn’t go back on his promises, so falling for Abby is out of the question. Abby knows how it feels getting involved with someone who is betrothed so she’s determined to keep her attraction to Max unrequited.
THE AUTUMN BRIDE by Anne Gracie is a charming novel very similar to Julie Garwood’s FOR THE ROSES in the way it initially binds us to her characters. I couldn’t help but feel the plight of these “sisters” and their friendship with Lady Beatrice is perfect timing for them all. There is a lot to like about this novel but I especially enjoyed the dialogue, often teasing in a loving way. Filled with an eclectic mix of characters, this novel engages the imagination for what’s to come. THE AUTUMN BRIDE exemplifies friendship beyond everything that may stand in its way. An entertaining first book in what promises to be a winning series, THE AUTUMN BRIDE will make you laugh and cry.
What’s on your mountain?