I loved this romp through the nineteenth century, an
entertaining rags to riches story. Max is the new Lord
Davenham, but his schooldays have come to a bitter end for
he has inherited nothing but debt from his uncle, while his
aunt may have to lose her home to pay the bills. It's up to
him to find a way to placate the creditors. Abigail Chantry
is just a London governess, and when her sister Jane gets a
message to her that she's being held captive in a brothel,
she has to rescue Jane despite fearing for her position. She
doesn't expect two more girls to escape and tag along as well.
Max has prospered in the East Indies and now sets sail for
London with his business partner to visit his elderly aunt
Beatrice. But Abigail and her three 'sisters' have
inveigled their way in past the neglectful thieving
servants, and set up house to look after the malnourished
old lady properly, including a new doctor who prescribes her
walking exercise and excitement. Max has to believe that
the impostors are there under false pretences, taking
advantage of his aunt's kindness. Anyway, he's betrothed,
to a lady he hasn't seen in nine years. And his fancy free
friends have no intention of getting caught in parson's
Quotations from Jane Austen begin every chapter of THE
AUTUMN BRIDE, evoking the period. Lady Beatrice is a
treasure. Her formerly red locks have turned grey, and the
girls introduce her to henna, so she declares firmly that
her restored health has caused her hair colour to grow back.
When her nephew moves them all to a smart Mayfair house,
instructing that Beatrice is not to go out visiting while he
is away in Manchester, she starts a literary salon so the
town set calls on her. Suspense is maintained by having
sinister men follow Abby and set on her with a knife, while
the romantic interest is wryly stymied by Max's fiancée
being properly keen to marry, obliging him to keep his word.
I appreciated the distinct characters, especially Cockney
Daisy, while Abby's willingness to become a burglar in
extremity lifts her out of the ordinary for period heroines.
Life was very tough for those without money in the
nineteenth century, the difference being that only the lower
classes starved. Anne Gracie has written an adventure with
a great sense of fun, and I suggest you pick up THE AUTUMN BRIDE
and laugh and cheer. I did.
Ill fortune has brought once-respectable governess,
Abigail Chantry, her younger sister and their two friends
to the verge of destitution. When breaking into a mansion
in desperation, Abby discovers the elderly owner, Lady
Beatrice Davenham, bedridden and neglected. Abby and the
old lady hatch a plan for Abby and her three 'sisters'
come live at the mansion and set about improving all of
their lives. Until Lady Beatrice's nephew Max arrives in
Max, now the head of a vast and profitable trading empire,
is returning to London to settle down, marry a beautiful
high-born lady, and breed some heirs. He's horrified to
find his aunt apparently under the sway of impostors, led
by an opinionated spinster who has the temerity to defy a
man in his own house. But to Max's concern, finds he's
enjoying their exchanges a little too much. Falling in
love was not in Max's plan. Nor was it in Abby's.