Dress shop vs. marriage

The Summer Bride (A Chance Sisters Romance) - Anne Gracie

Unlike most regency romances, this one’s protagonists do not belong to the ton. The hero Flynn is a self-made businessman. He owns a fleet of trade ship. Now that he has amassed his fortune, he wants to get married into society, to get himself a London lady of the first water. Despite his humble origins and a childhood as a dockside rat, the aristocracy are ready to oblige him. Although most of them despise him as a vulgar ‘man in trade,’ a number of impoverished lords are willing to overlook Flynn’s unseemly occupation in exchange for a hefty settlement. They have young daughters for sale and creditors to keep at bay, after all, so Flynn has his pick.

Daisy dreams of having a dress shop of her own. Lady Beatrice, Daisy’s adapted faux-aunt, wants to make a lady out of her, but Daisy resists. She was born in the gutter, raised in a brothel, and she knows she can’t be a lady. Her exquisite designs are fast becoming fashionable among the high society ladies, and she would trade her own business for anything. She definitely doesn’t want marriage or children – they might complicate her budding dress-making enterprise – but Flynn fills her with disquiet. She likes him too much; she makes flamboyant waistcoats for him, but he only sees her as a friendly girl. Or does he?

The story is uneven. In the beginning, I was bored. Towards the end, I couldn’t stop reading. There are some strange logical gaps in the plot but there are also moments of emotional catharsis and a couple of funny interludes. The heroine’s resistance to marriage sometimes seem ridiculous, not realistic at all, and the hero’s boundless tenderness towards her belies his image as a ruthless owner of a large trading empire. Nevertheless, it reads easy, and I enjoyed the experience. Overall, a solid romance.