THE AUTUMN BRIDE – Anne Gracie
The Chance Sisters Series, Book 1 of 4
After inheriting little but a title and enormous debts from his uncle at the tender age of eighteen, Max, Lord Davenham has spent nearly a decade in the East recouping the family fortune. He's in a very successful partnership with friends in Flynn and Company Oriental Trading. Now it's time to go home to check on his Aunt Beatrice, his only living relative. He's had some upsetting news.
Hurrying back from her half day off from her post as governess, Miss Abigail Chantry is accosted by a young woman—apparently a maidservant—who claims to have a message for Abby from her sister, Jane, who needs her help. The upshot is that Abby and Daisy rescue Jane from a brothel just in time to save her virtue. Jane brings along a friend, also in need of rescue, and they certainly can't leave Daisy behind to suffer more abuse; she's the heroine of the day. The three young women spend the night in Abby's room, but it's the end of Abby's employment. The four put their heads together and make a plan. From now on they stick together like sisters to make their way—easier said than done. When Jane falls ill, there is not enough money for a doctor, so Abby climbs from the window of their room in a condemned building, down the drainpipe and up that of the neighboring mansion and into its window in order to steal something they can sell. She finds a dirty, shabby, near empty room containing an old, obviously neglected lady.
When Max calls on his aunt, he finds the old servants gone in a clean but nearly bare house and four young women, the Misses Chance, whom his aunt claims are her nieces. It's war! In truth, Abby and the girls have saved Lady Davenham's life, but it will take some doing before they can win Max's trust.
I truly love Anne Gracie's fun and heart warming romances. The scene in which the four girls move in with Lady Beatrice—at her invitation—and start to take care of the lady who has been bedridden and near starved for months is extremely moving. Max is an honorable man who has faced down many challenges, but he'll meet more difficult choices ahead. And who could not love Abby, so brave, so caring, and so unstoppable? The other three “sisters” will have their stories told in sequels to come and will prove to be just as engaging in their own ways. Max has three active business partners and one silent partner. Surely we'll see more of them. All the characters have distinct situations and personalities, even the butler and footman.
The superbly crafted plot of THE AUTUMN BRIDE unfolds with emotion, drama, romance, and no little good humor along the way. I guarantee excellent reading and can't wait for more.