Category Archives: Regency romance

Romantic conclusion to Chance Sisters Quartet

New book review: The Summer Bride by Anne Gracie

From the moment Anne Gracie introduce the Chance Sisters* in The Autumn Bride, I felt protective of Abby, Damaris, Jane and Daisy and worried about their futures. I particularly worried about heroic, spirited Daisy. In a society where birth, breeding and education still counted for almost everything, she was the most vulnerable. Even although I knew neither her sisters nor her ‘aunt’, the outrageous Lady Bea, would abandon her, I worried that her stubborn independence might rob her of her chance at love.

cover-summer-brideAt the beginning of The Summer Bride, Daisy is certainly resistent to the notion of husband hunting. She believes love is not for her and is determined to instead follow her dream of becoming dressmaker to the ton. In the process, she is working herself to death day and night.

‘I can make anyfing out of anyfing, but even I can’t make a silk purse out of a bloomin’ sow’s ear!’ Daisy Chance declared. ‘I was born in the gutter, raised in an ‘orehouse and I got a gimpy leg. I don’t look like a lady or speak like a lady and I ain’t never gunna be a lady, so what’s the point of––‘

Lady Beatrice cut her off. ‘Nonsense! You can do anything you set your mind to!’

Daisy rolled her eyes. ‘Maybe, but I don’t want to be a lady! I want to be a dressmaker – not just any dressmaker. I aim to become the most fashionable modiste in London – fashion to the tob nobs.’

The older lady shurgged. ‘No reason why you can’t be a modiste and a lady.’

Daisy stared at the old lady incredulously. ‘You don’t have no idea, do you? What it’s gunna take––‘

‘Any idea. It’s any idea.’

Daisy rolled her eyes. ‘Work, that’s what it takes – hard work, never-endin’ work. I’m workin’ every hour God sends as it is, and even so I’m barely managin’. There ain’t no time for me to prance around pretendin’g to be a lady.’

‘You are a lady!’

Daisy snorted and Lady Beatrice went on, ‘Your entire nature declares it. Inside you are a lady, Daisy – loyal, loving, honest, sensitive to others’ needs – all we have to do is teach you to be ladylike on the outside as well!’

‘Bugge that,’ said the budding lady …

Enter a most unconventional hero, Irishman Patrick Flynn. Flynn has made a fortune as a trader and is determined to find himself an aristocratic bride (one whose family will appreciate his money if not his orgins) and elevate his position in society.

Daisy makes Flynn’s flamboyant waistcoats, and he has promised her first pick off the materials on his newly docked ship. As a self-made man, he appreciates Daisy’s determination to create a business. As her friend, he doesn’t care at all for the fact that she is clearly in danger of working herself into the ground. And as he pokes his nose in where it is not wanted, at least not by Daisy, he comes to realise that, as a red-blooded male, he wants to be more than her friend. He wants passion, love – and marriage. Daisy will agree only to be his mistress, fearing she will lose her business, her independence, and her way out of poverty, if she marries. But Flynn didn’t create his business empire by taking the first ‘no’ as an answer. What Flynn wants, he will get, no matter how long he has to wait for it.

I liked how the story line for The Summer Bride overlaps with that of Jane’s romance in The Spring Bride without destroying the integrity of either book. It was interesting to see how the two romances overlapped, as those of our friends so often do in real life. It takes a skilled writer to drop a hint in one book and bring it to life in another.

I adore Anne Gracie’s sweetly sexy books. She is never afraid to explore the physical and emotional injuries of our pasts which plague our presents and threaten our futures. Yet she always offers hope; that the sum of a couple in love is greater than their individual natures; and that with the steadfast support of the one who loves us, we can rise above our pasts to be our best selves.

In The Summer Bride, she once again combines humour – sometimes wry, sometimes outrageous – with excellent historical detail and a deep understanding of our human fears, needs and desires to create a stand-out, memorable Regency romance.

This novel is one to keep. Actually, all the books in this series are keepers, and since all four books are now available, I plan to take advantage of the upcoming bad weather to read straight through the whole series. If you haven’t read them yet … lucky you! A treat awaits.

*If you are unfamiliar with this series, only two of the Chance sisters are related by blood, Abby and Jane. They met Damaris and Daisy during a perilous rescue of two of the girls from a brothel after which, having no family to turn to they swore allegiance to each other and attempted to support themselves in a shabby corner of London.  A chance encounter with old Lady Bea led to the girls rescuing her from abusive and neglectful servants, an act of goodwill which led to their re-entry into society.

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The four titles in the quartet are:

  • The Autumn Bride
  • The Winter Bride
  • The Spring Bride
  • The Summer Bride

Anne Gracie has a beautiful website well worth visiting to find out more about her and her books:http://www.annegracie.com.

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Queen of the Historical Novella triumphs again

Book Review: Stranded with the Scottish Early by Anna Campbell

I adore Anna Campbell’s romances, with their combination of wit and passion. Stranded with the Scottish Earl is a Regency novella and a delightful quick read perfect for a work-night evening escape or a weekend treat.

It opens memorably and so I was (once again) hooked from the start.

Stranded with the Scottish Earl‘A week before Easter, Ewan Macrae, Earl of Lyle, rode through a raging storm to reach Basington Grange – only to discover Cinderella guarding the the door.

‘Good afternoon,’ the lassie in the ragged brown skirt said coolly, holding the door open just far enough to speak to him. To keep the rain out? Or to fend off unexpected earls?

At twenty-eight, Lyle wasn’t a green lad to stammer in a lady’s presence. Still, he needed a few seconds to catch his breath and dredge some response from the mush that used to be his brain.

Cinderella was very pretty.

He swallowed, shifted on his feet like a yokel and located a word or two. Hardly original. ‘Good afternoon.’

Cinderella had creamy skin and rich honey-coloured hair, tumbing loose around her slender shoulders. Symmetrical streaks of dirt adorned high, slanted cheekbones. Half a dozen freckles set off a sweet, straight nose.

She really was a peach. Not even the half-closed door could hide .

‘You need to turn around and go back,’ she said after an awkward pause. From the depth of the house behind her, a dog yapped to warn off the intruder.

‘But I’ve only just arrived,’ he said, trying a smile. Despite his hat and thick greatcoat, a trickle of water traced a chilly path down his neck. ‘I’d love to come in out of the rain for a wee while. It’s hurtling it down in buckets.’

‘To confirm his statement, a gust of wind spattered raindrops across where he stood beneath the unreliable shleter of the portico. Damn it all, the weather was cold enough for Scotland.

He was used to his smile melting the frost off unwelcoming lassies. Cinderella was made of sterner stuff. Under gracefully arched eyebrows darker than her hair, the amber eyes remained wary. ‘No, you really need to go back.’

So begins Lyle’s madcap adventure and unconventional wooing of Cinderella, who he knows is really Miss Charlotte Warren. She attempts to conceal here identity knowing that he is the man her father thought would suit her as a husband, a fact he informed her of by letter from London. Charlotte does not wish to marry, and she is not sure who she is more annoyed with – her father for talking to this Scottish rake without her leave or said Scottish rake for daring to come and look her over when he knew perfectly well her father was not at home.

However, Lyle is decided. He fell in love the moment she opened the door. Now all he has to do is convince Cinderella Charlotte that the feeling is mutual and admit her identity –even if he has to rescue sheep in the pouring rain to do so.

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Cinderella may be the Queen of Lyle’s heart, but Anna Campbell is undoubtedly the Queen of the Historical Novella, seamlessly combining humour, period detail, passion and love in small parcels of story dynamite. Read and enjoy.

Stranded with the Scottish Earl is available as an ebook. You can find out more about the delightful Anna here: http://annacampbell.com/about-anna/

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