Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: The Autumn Bride by Anne Gracie

The Autumn Bride by Anne Gracie
published by Berkley in February 2013
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...
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Chance sisters, Book #1

The Story: At the age of 18, when Max, Lord Davenham, inherited his title, he also got all the debts that came along. Almost penniless, Max was determined to make his own fortune and headed to the Orient. Nine years later, it is time to come home, especially after he receives a letter from one of his Aunt Bea's friends expressing her concerns that his aunt is being taken advantage of. And indeed, upon his return home, he finds his aunt surrounded by four nieces, the Chance sisters, whom Max is sure do not belong to the family tree.

Abigail Chantry was a governess who lost her position when she ran to the rescue of her younger sister, Jane, who was kidnapped to a brothel. The two sisters became friends with Damaris - another girl who was kidnapped to the brothel - and Daisy, who used to work for the brothel and was the one who informed Abby of the kidnapping, Together, they decide to head for Bath where Jane will have more chances to make an advantageous marriage. However, plans got derailed when Jane became sick. Desperate for money, Abby decides to rob a house - just to get the necessary money for a doctor. Instead of finding anything she could pawn, she finds Lady Beatrice - sick and neglected. Abigail cannot forget the old lady and once Jane recovers, she decides to come to Lady Beatrice's help. The old lady take the four young girls under her wing as her nieces, the Chance sisters.

From the start, Max and Abby butt heads... but is it because they are incompatible or because they are attracted to each other?

My Opinion: Over the years, I've become a fan of Ms Gracie's historical romances. Funny how things work out because the first few books that I've read by this author were misses for me. However, I just fell in love with her Devil Riders series :) Anyway, I was looking forward to Ms Gracie's new release... although I admit I was a bit disappointed to find out this was not Marcus' book :( Nevertheless, I wasn't going to miss her new book and thus, I picked up The Autumn Bride.

Going in The Autumn Bride, my expectations for the book were low due to Tracy's review. Tracy tends to be a more generous grader than me, so if she gave a book a 3/5, well let just say it doesn't bode well for me ^_^; However, in the end, I was pleasantly surprised. I can see where Tracy is coming from and she is right, the romance in The Autumn Bride was weak. Abigail and Max simply didn't spend enough time together for the HEA ending to be believable. Sure, the attraction was there, but for me, attraction does equal love. They needed more interactions, more time to really get to know each other; unfortunately those scenes were missing. Also, I would have been satisfied with them acknowledging their attraction and start courting by the end of the book. The marriage proposal just felt too forced :( And why do authors feel the need to add sex scenes, especially if they are only going to be at the end of the book? Because it is expected because it is a romance novel or to seal the deal? If they don't fit in the book, I'd rather they'd be left out... Just saying.

Aside from the romance, I pretty  much enjoyed everything else in The Autumn Bride. I liked the main characters, Abby and Max, as individuals. They were very likable and people you could get behind and root for. I admired Max' determination and focus at rebuilding the family fortune and Abby's dedication to others. I thought Ms Gracie also did a great job with the secondary characters and they really made this book. Daisy, Damaris and Jane each had their own personalities and I'm curious how it will lead to their HEA ending :) And Lady Beatrice was a hoot! She's my favorite kind of old biddies in historical romances :) You know, the kind who is blunt, speaks her mind, mischievous and has a lot of tricks up her sleeves. Even the butler and the footman had personalities :)

The storyline of The Autumn Bride had some misunderstandings, but they were resolved rather quickly and without more misunderstandings which I liked. Nothing was over-complicated and for once, I feel the characters used their good judgement... on their own! :) That was rather refreshing. I really liked the premise of the series as well, an old lady taking four young women under her wings. I do wonder if the remaining sisters are all going to be paired up with Max' business associates. I don't really mind, but I feel like Ms Gracie might have tip her hand a bit too soon. It'd have been fun to have a bit of surprise. Also, this would mean that Marcus' book is very far in the future... not that I mind though because I don't think that any of the Chance sisters really fit him. Yes, I'm rather obsessed with Marcus LOL.

My Grade: B-. Overall, I think The Autumn Bride was an enjoyable book. It's unfortunate that the romance was on the weaker side; however, the good premise made for a strong start for the new series.