The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie (audiobook) – narrated by Alison Larkin

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Damaris Chance’s unhappy past has turned her off the idea of marriage forever. But her guardian, Lady Beatrice Davenham, convinces her to make her coming out anyway—and have a season of carefree, uncomplicated fun.

When Damaris finds herself trapped in a compromising situation with the handsome rake Freddy Monkton-Coombes, she has no choice but to agree to wed him—as long as it’s in name only. Her new husband seems to accept her terms, but Freddy has a plan of his own: to seduce his reluctant winter bride.

Will Damaris’s secrets destroy her chance at true happiness? Or can Freddy help her cast off the shackles of the past, and yield to delicious temptation?

Rating: Narration: B-, Content: B+

The Winter Bride is the second in a series of books about the four Chance sisters – who aren’t actually sisters (well two are, the other two aren’t!), instead being a group of women who were brought together under very inauspicious circumstances and who, on breaking out of those circumstances, decide to rename themselves because their escape from a life of drudgery and abuse has given them all a second chance.

The girls now reside with their splendidly eccentric “aunt” Beatrice, Lady Davenham, who is busily making plans for the come-outs of Damaris and Jane, but Damaris isn’t keen on the idea. She doesn’t want to find herself a husband, which is the usual purpose of having a Season, but Lady Bea reassures her that she doesn’t have to get married if she doesn’t want to, and tells her she should look upon her season as a chance to live a little and have some fun.

In the previous book in the series – The Autumn Bride – Abigail Chance married Max, Lord Davenham (Lady Beatrice’s nephew), and he has asked his best friend Freddy Monkton-Coombes to keep an eye on the other girls while he and Abby are away on their honeymoon. Freddy, a ladies’ man and confirmed bachelor who lives in fear of the crowds of “muffins” (young, marriage-minded women) who are determined to land him, is not particularly enthused at the prospect, but he nonetheless agrees to look out for the girls and provide an escort when required.

Freddy and Damaris strike up a gentle friendship – and then one day, Freddy hits upon a scheme which will get both of them something they want. The time is approaching for his annual visit to his family home, somewhere he only goes on one particular day a year for his brother’s memorial service, but this year, his mother has organised a house-party which will be filled with eligible “muffins.” He reasons that if he announces his engagement, his mother will have to call off the house party and stop nagging him to get married, so he asks Damaris if she will become betrothed to him. She has already made him aware of her intention never to marry, and as he doesn’t want to get married either, there is no danger of their betrothal leading to the altar.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

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