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A Sparkling Start to the Chance Sisters
on 5 February 2013
When Max became Lord Davenham at just eighteen he faced a terrible truth - ruination. His spendthrift uncle had not only wasted the family's fortune, but had got deeply into debt. Determined to save the family estate and his aunt's London home, Max made a devil's bargain and has spent the last nine years abroad, making a fortune to repay it.
Now that the debt and interest have been cleared, Max was all set to enjoy his last year of freedom before completing his promised bargain, but worrying rumours about his aunt have brought him back to England.
Only to find her home overtaken by four strange women, claiming not only to be sisters to each other, but nieces to his aunt as well. Which is impossible, since Max is the only family Aunt Bea has left! Worst of the lot is Miss Abigail Chance, the oldest and ring leader, who is not the least bit afraid to stand up to him. She's bossy, stubborn, high-handed, takes excellent care of his aunt - and Max is terribly attracted to her.
There is something strange afoot here, beyond the obvious lies, and Max is determined to figure it out - before Miss Abby worms her way into his heart as easily as she took over his house.
Anne Gracie is back with a new series - the Chance Sisters - which has more than a little in common with her wonderful Merridew Sisters quartet (Perfect Rake, Perfect Waltz, Perfect Stranger, Perfect Kiss), but only in the best possible way. Abby is a caring, strong, sweet heroine trying to do her best by her `sisters' as well as her honorary aunt, while struggling not to fall for the autocratic, arrogant, protective and honourable Max. Their story is fun, frivolous and sweetly romantic, with a couple of darker truths underlying the plot - the vulnerability of young, orphaned women; the price of poverty and debt.
Gracie is a master at creating believable family groups - with or without blood ties - and this is no exception. Even when the plot should seem farcical (she does like benevolent elderly ladies) it still somehow works. The way Abby meets Lady Bea, for example, is ridiculous, yet it is just the sort of thing Abby would do. The characters are so wonderfully done - sharp Lady Bea, forthright Daisy, unusual servants Featherby and William - that I couldn't help but enjoy whatever daft scheme they all got up to next.
With plenty of nods to Georgette Heyer (most noteably A Civil Contract) and a couple of brief glimpses of older characters (Sir Oswald!) this is Regency romance at its most enjoyable. True, the danger plot is a little feeble, but I don't care. Light, lovely and loveable, Anne Gracie is on sparkling form with this one. I can't wait to see which sister is up next.