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…
And here is Lulu's review:
The Autumn Bride, Anne Gracie’s opener in her latest series, is largely spent setting the premise for three future books (winter-spring-summer – yes, it will be a full year of sisters). The heroine is an underappreciated and ill-treated governess, whose sister is kidnapped and sold to a brothel. With the heroine’s help, the sister, along with two more girls from the brothel, escape and band together – and the Chance sisters are formed. Add in a breaking-into-a-stranger’s-mansion-encounter, and Lady Beatrice is in the mix, giving the four ‘sisters’ a home.
Now enters the hero, whom the heroine endlessly likens to a Viking, a dark long-haired Viking. (Seriously – a Viking? There were still plenty of men sporting a queue in 1816 – anyway aren’t Vikings supposed to be blond?) Whatever, said Viking is actually an English lord, nephew to Aunt Bea, returning to London after living in Malaysia for nine years. During that time Beatrice was neglected and starved by her servants, but Lord Viking believes the four sisters culpable of the abuse.
So misunderstandings ensue, as they do, followed by awesome light-shining moments of realization, leading the hero to recognize that he’s been a complete asshat to the heroine. Off-screen events magically take care of pesky fiancées and dastardly brothel owners. Nuptials and misty eyes follow, and all is well.
The best bits: the two leads are people of honor and courage – both very likeable but lonely people, yearning for a true home; the dialog between characters is often hilarious, especially that involving the ballsy Aunt Bea; and the secondary characters offer great fodder for future books. (And yeah that’s a total plug.)
My biggest problems with The Autumn Bride are the lack of interaction between the two main characters, and the overall dearth of action in the actual story. Excitement occurs elsewhere, then we hear about it afterward. The plot is driven largely through the characters’ internal conflicts. We hear what they think – a lot. Overall the book feels a bit sluggish, and predictable. And yes, all romance novels are predictable to a certain extent. You’ve got your girl and your guy – and eventually hearts and parts will meet. Here, I just wanted it to happen already. Which left me way too open to being distracted by non plot-driven bits: a somewhat fuzzy timeline; the Jane Austen quotes leading in to the chapters; and the likelihood of four young English women – raised in an orphanage, a brothel, and a Chinese mission – having read Cinderella. A French fairy tale. In French.
In the end, The Autumn Bride gets a solid B- from me, but read this book! Truly, just do it. It’s generally happy-making, and more importantly it leads straight to The Winter Bride, a total pleasure of a tale. The Hero: the ultimate awesome dude. Kindest guy ever conceived, packaged in a tall, kick-ass body, with all that implies. Gorgeous, sexy, and empathetic to all things related to the heroine. The Bride: outspoken and forthright. She takes on the truly awful parents of the hero, and totally owns them. The book is engaging and hilarious, full of great dialog and fun shenanigans – and adorably sexy. It leaves me looking forward to Spring…