The Spring Bride
Chance Sisters #3
By Anne Gracie
Author’s Website: http://www.annegracie.com
A dog in need of rescue brings together a young debutante and a mysterious stranger.
On the eve of the London Season, Jane Chance is about to make her entrance into high society. And after a childhood riddled with poverty and hardship, Jane intends to make a good, safe, sensible marriage. All goes according to plan until a dark, dangerous vagabond helps her rescue a dog.
Zachary Black is all kinds of unsuitable—a former spy, now in disguise, he’s wanted for murder. His instructions: to lie low until his name is cleared. But Zach has never followed the rules, and he wants Jane Chance for his own.
If that means blazing his way into London society, in whatever guise suits him, that’s what he’ll do. Jane knows she shouldn’t fall in love with this unreliable, if devastatingly attractive, rogue. But Zach is determined—and he‘s a man accustomed to getting what he wants. (Goodreads)
The Spring Bride is the third book in the Chance Sisters historical romance series, but I thought it read fine as a standalone book. It focuses on Jane, who is about to experience her first London society season. Before the first ball even takes place, Lord Cambury comes to ask her “aunt” for Jane’s hand in marriage. He has been searching for the right wife for years and thinks Jane is beautiful enough to meet his criteria. He collects beautiful things and treats Jane as just a lovely addition to his collection. Due to her difficult upbringing after her parents died, Jane has a very practical attitude when it comes to marriage. Financial security and a place to raise children are her only concerns. Love is not part of the equation. Jane meets Zachary Black when she attempts to break up a scuffle of children who are mistreating a dog. Zach, actually titled aristocracy, is disguised as a gypsy, just one of many disguises he has employed during his time as a military spy. He has returned home at his friend’s bidding because Zachary’s cousin is about to declare him dead so that he may inherit Zachary’s title and estate. Unfortunately, if Zachary makes his identity known, he will surely be arrested on charges that he murdered his stepmother years ago. He actually helped his stepmother escape his father’s abusive ways. He had intended to leave London the same day he arrived, but meeting Jane changed his mind. So, to remain anonymous until his step-mother can speak on his behalf, he maintains his gypsy persona. It does not take many “chance” meetings at the park with Jane before he decides she is the one for him, and he must save her from a hollow future with Lord Cambury.
I will admit that the dog, later deemed Caesar, was what made me choose to read this book. Aren’t two people coming to a dog’s defense bound to be the best kind of people? I understand Jane’s pragmatic nature, but I felt it made her a bit flat for much of the book. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book was that it recognized the dark side of being beautiful. It would indeed be terrible to be objectified, and Cambury’s attitude that simply because Jane is pretty and female that she must have no morals or honor was despicable. His attitude made him easy to dislike, but I also felt a bit sorry for his skewed, shallow view of what matters. And then, there is Zachary. I loved his charm and somewhat cocky, but honorable, nature. His growth from nomadic spy to responsible, landed gentry was inspiring.
I thought The Spring Bride was a sweet, quick read. I always enjoy historical fiction’s ability to transport me to another world, and Gracie’s writing did just that. I liked all of the characters, and they were well developed. There was only one sex scene, and it occurred only after the couple was married. I found this unique in secular romance and, honestly, a bit refreshing. I recommend this lovely story to fans of Gracie and Regency Romance.