The Summer Bride is the final book in Anne Gracie’s Chance Sisters quartet which began with The Autumn Bride and then progressed through Winter and Spring as the “sisters” (who aren’t actual sisters, but who regard themselves as being “sisters of the heart”) found love. This instalment is a decent enough read, but it doesn’t have anything new to offer and the romantic tension isn’t very, well, tense.
It’s the turn of Daisy, the only one of the four who wasn’t born a Lady, to get her HEA. She’s a cockney foundling brought up in a brothel, and her ambition is to be the most fashionable modiste in London. She’s already making a name for herself by creating gowns for Abby and Damaris – two of her sisters who are now happily married to society gentlemen – and new orders are coming in all the time. Daisy can barely keep up; she spends every waking moment designing, cutting, sewing and embellishing in order to meet the demand. She forgets to eat and hardly sleeps, but she’s so driven by her ambition to earn enough money to open up her own shop that taking care of herself falls way down the list of her priorities.
Also a long way down Daisy’s list of priorities – in fact, so far down that it’s not even on there – is marriage. It’s not that she doesn’t like men, but she’s determined that when she does become the owner of a business, it will be hers alone. In the eyes of the law, anything that belongs to a woman automatically belongs to her husband once she has one, ergo, she isn’t going to have one. Simple.
Or it would be were it not for the fact that she fancies the pants off Patrick Flynn, Irish charmer, handsome rogue and owner of Flynn shipping, the company in which Max and Freddie (heroes of books one and two) are investors. Born in Dublin, Flynn lost his whole family to cholera at a young age, but has never forgotten the loving home provided by his parents and is keen to have a family of his own. He worked hard at anything and everything and has become a successful businessman, so now he has his eye on raising himself up further by making an advantageous marriage. With the end of the Season approaching, pickings are fairly slim, but Flynn has settled upon Lady Elizabeth Compton, the daughter of an earl who badly needs the money Flynn can provide, so the match is all but a done deal.
Daisy and Flynn are good mates. He gives her first pick of his cargoes and tries to make sure she eats, and she makes him the vibrant waistcoats he favours. In spite of her determination not to marry, Daisy can’t help being a bit jealous when Flynn tells her all about his plans to nab himself an aristocratic bride; and here I confess that his motivations didn’t make much sense to me. The self-made man wanting a titled wife is a fairly common plotline, but there’s usually more of a reason for it than “I might as well”, which is all I could come up with on Flynn’s behalf. Well, that and that it’s because the author needed a reason to keep Daisy and Flynn apart for the first part of the book.
Fortunately, however, Flynn soon realises his genteel would-be-bride has only agreed to marry him because the alternative proposed by her father is to tie her to an historical romance cliché – an older, nasty widower who probably beat his other wives to death. Not wanting to throw Lady Elizabeth to the wolves (or wolf) Flynn quickly and altruistically gets her out of the picture, clearing the way for him to court the woman he’s suddenly realised he really wants.
Who doesn’t want him. Or, more precisely, who wants him in her bed, but doesn’t want to marry him. The rest of the story revolves around Daisy refusing Flynn’s daily offers of marriage while she sets up her business. He had originally offered to be her investor, but she was convinced that even as a silent partner, Flynn would take over so she turned him down. Luck threw another possibility in Daisy’s path, a widowed lady who had some money to invest, and voilà! – the House of Chance is born.
As I said at the beginning of this review, The Summer Bride is a solid read, but not one that’s going to set the world alight. Flynn and Daisy are attractive characters and the romantic chemistry between them is fairly strong, but while I admire an independently minded heroine, Daisy’s stubbornness and her inability to take good advice got annoying quickly. The obstacles lying along their road to happiness are flimsy; Flynn abandons his desire for a society bride at the drop of a hat, and Daisy’s persistent belief that he will try to take over her business is suddenly dispensed with when another trip around cliché corner sees her having to change her mind.
The Summer Bride kept me entertained for the few hours it took me to read it, and it’s by no means a bad book. It’s well written, but it lacks a certain spark – the one that pulls you in and means you absolutely HAVE to know what happens to these characters; and as I write this review, I’m struggling to think of anyone or anything that stands out as being particularly memorable. It’s a pleasant, undemanding read, and I’m sure fans of the series will enjoy it, but there’s nothing new to be found within its pages and I certainly can’t see myself reading it more than this once.
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