Aunt Beatrice centre stage

The Autumn Bride - Anne Gracie

I love this writer. I recently discovered her and already read 3 of her books. I loved them all. I’m reading another one of hers at the moment, the only one left on my shelves, but she has several more novels in print, and I will order them all from Amazon. Such a nice feeling – pleasant anticipation. I have 8 more books of hers to look forward to. I’m thrumming with future joy. I think Anne Gracie is one of the best historical romance writers today. Why didn’t I hear about her before?

This story is about Abbie and Max. She starts the novel as a governess, an impoverished orphan with a younger sister to take care for. He is a rich aristocrat. When Abbie with her younger sister Jane and two more girls move in with Max’s aunt, Beatrice (read the novel to learn how this unlikely twist came about; there were crime and deception involved and lots of good will), Max is concerned. He thinks the young harpies might be taking advantage of his old and feeble aunt, so he abandons his business in the Southern Seas and returns to London. He discovers that the situation is not exactly what he thought, but it takes him time to unravel all the secrets and learn the truth about Abbie and her sisters. Along the way, he falls in love with Abbie, and she with him.

The writing is clean and expressive, very high quality. The pacing is fast. The story sparkles with subtle humor. And the characters are all alive and sympathetic. Abbie in particular engaged my heart. A loving and sensible girl, she is ready to sacrifice everything for her sisters, even though some of them are not related to her by blood.

Lady Beatrice is also a delightful character, eccentric and kind. She is a creature of her time, of course, but her imagination is blooming, and she is set on improving the lives of the girls she had adopted no matter the cost. If she has to hoodwink the entire ton to do it, so be it. In her opinion, the polite society exists specifically to be hoodwinked by her.

Max is less interesting, a standard alpha male, but he plays a satisfying foil for the colorful cast of female characters.

All in all, a very rewarding read.