(Chance Sisters, #2)
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
Award-winning author Anne Gracie delivers the second in her enticing new series about four young women facing a life of destitution—until a daring act changes their fortune and turns them each into a beautiful bride…
Damaris Chance’s unhappy past has turned her off the idea of marriage forever. But her guardian, Lady Beatrice Davenham, convinces her to make her coming out anyway—and have a season of carefree, uncomplicated fun.
When Damaris finds herself trapped in a compromising situation with the handsome rake Freddy Monkton-Coombes, she has no choice but to agree to wed him—as long as it’s in name only. Her new husband seems to accept her terms, but Freddy has a plan of his own: to seduce his reluctant winter bride.
Will Damaris’s secrets destroy her chance at true happiness? Or can Freddy help her cast off the shackles of the past, and yield to delicious temptation?
Just wonderful, Anne Gracie! I adored your funny, witty dialogue, and fabulous cast of loveable characters.
Freddy and Damaris, secondary characters from The Autumn Bride, are the star players, well supported by the rest of this delightful mishmash of a ‘family’, especially the outspoken and outrageous Aunt Bea. Lady Beatrice can turn any situation to her own advantage or to the advantage of her beloved adopted nieces. Nothing will stand in the way of their happiness as far as she is concerned; no bending of the truth is unacceptable.
She has decided that Freddy Monkton-Combes, her nephew Max’s oldest friend, will meet her ‘girls’ and she orchestrates this meeting shamelessly. Freddy is a confirmed bachelor and avoids ‘muffins’ (young women intent on trapping a chap into marriage) like the plague! He has skilfully sidestepped this terrible fate for many years but, from the evening he comes face to face with Damaris, he is hooked, whether or not he realises it at the time. Freddy has been coerced into acting as guard dog to the girls and their aunt by Max, whilst he is away on his honeymoon. This duty throws him into contact with Damaris on a regular basis and they begin to enjoy each other’s company.
Freddy’s parents have decided that it is high time he settle down and produce an heir and, to this end, have arranged a house party where hordes of these ‘muffins’ will be waiting to pounce. Freddy and Damaris make a pact; they will announce a fake betrothal to call his parents off, but also to give Damaris the chance to avoid the ‘come out’ Lady Bea is intent on arranging for her. She has personal reasons for avoiding this fate, also wishing to avoid marriage. Her ambitions lie only in a little cottage in the country, and peace to forget past tragedies and horrific memories. Freddy arranges the purchase of a cottage in return for her compliance.
Damaris’s peace is shattered, however, by the elegantly beautiful, persistent and determined Freddy. He has worked very hard to present a rakish outer appearance to the world. The hidden man, however, is kind, thoughtful and honourable, deeply traumatised by an event in his boyhood and apparently unloved by his parents. His outward devil-may-care attitude is a cover; he is self-deprecating and consistently refuses to explain or to defend his apparent carelessness to his parents. Freddy is that little boy lost we all love to love. Even his seduction and deliberate compromising of Damaris is somehow achieved in a totally honourable manner. He has decided that his bachelor days are at an end and no other woman will do. Therefore he sets out to persuade her, in the only way he knows how, and in the process make this a betrothal in truth. What a scene! Beautifully romantic and so well done by Ms. Gracie with wit, charm and humour.
I loved Anne Gracie’s references to Jane Austen’s works. To begin with, Freddy is horrified at being obliged to attend Aunt Bea’s literary society, which she has deviously organised to introduce the girls to society, but after quoting the opening lines from Pride and Prejudice…
“It is a truth universally acknowledged……..” He shudders, “What about the poor fellow’s wants, eh? Do they matter? No. Every female in the blasted story was plotting to hook some man for herself or her daughter or niece. If you don’t call that horror, I don’t know what is!”
There is a lot of sweet romance and some sexual content , though sensitively and sensuously achieved; a serious underlying issue for each of the protagonists which each eventually helps the other to overcome; lots of funny, sweet, tear jerking moments. Both characters are utterly loveable, particularly Freddy. Even the naming of the cottage, which becomes their romantic hideaway, is humorous. Freddy has arranged for a sign to be placed over the door saying ‘Roon’. A previous acquaintance of Damaris’s had predicted that Freddy would lead Damaris “down the road to Roon”!….a clever and witty play on words.
I loved your novel, Anne Gracie! Sorry to compare your books but The Perfect Rake still has the edge – for me at least – but this is a fabulous read all the same and Freddie is another of those memorable heroes.
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM
Chance Sisters series to date (click on the book covers for more details):