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.
This is the third in the quartet of books about the Chance sisters, two of whom are actually sisters (Abby and Jane), the other two being young women to whom they are not related but with whom they share a strong bond forged by hardship and tragedy.
The heroine of The Spring Bride is Jane Chance, the younger of the two sisters. She is eighteen, beautiful and on the verge of her come out into society, something to which she has been very much looking forward. But even though she is likely to have her pick of suitors once the season begins, Jane accepts an offer from Lord Cambury, a rather dull and unprepossessing young man who is enthralled by her extraordinary beauty and talks of “adding her to his collection” of beautiful things. Her sisters are surprised by her decision, and try to dissuade her, but Jane won’t be deterred. She never again wants to endure the fear and deprivation she experienced as a child after she and Abby lost their parents, and to her, marriage is all about safety and security. She is quite happy to make a marriage of convenience and trust that, with luck, love will follow. Her sisters Abby and Damaris, who have both recently married and are blissfully happy, are sceptical, but Jane’s mind is made up.
Until, that is, she is assisted in her rescue of a mangy dog by a tall, dark, handsome gypsy, whose remarkable grey-green eyes she is unable to forget.
Zachary Black is not, in fact a gypsy, but he’s rather a shady character nonetheless. Having left his home and his abusive father over a decade ago, he has worked as an agent for the British government for the last eight years, travelling all around Europe and living a nomadic existence. The death of his father – the Earl of Wainfleet – has prompted his return to England, because Zach’s cousin has instigated legal proceedings to have him declared dead. Confident that his re-appearance will quickly dispense with his cousin’s lawsuit, Zach fully expects to be on his way back to Europe in a matter of weeks, but he isn’t prepared for the news that his resurrection could lead to his actual demise – because he is wanted for the murder of his young stepmother.
Even so, he decides to remain in England until both situations are resolved… and so that he can pursue his acquaintance with the lovely Jane Chance.
I enjoyed the story very much, although my favourite book of the series so far is the previous one, The Winter Bride. But this one has much to recommend it, not least of which is the way Ms Gracie develops the central romance. So many historical romances these days rely of a surfeit of completely unlikely and anachronistic sex scenes, using those in lieu of the evolution of an actual relationship between the protagonists. But in The Spring Bride, the author writes a real romance which is tender, but by no means lacking in heat, yet which takes place in a realistic manner given the period at which the book is set. It was very difficult for young, unmarried men and women to meet in private, and here, the majority of the meetings between Jane and Zach take place in public situations, when all they are really able to do is TALK to each other. And talking to each other is, of course, the best way for them to get to know one another, and for the reader to get to know them and follow the progress of their romance.
Both characters have to make serious re-adjustments to their outlooks on life; Jane has to realise that perhaps a life devoid of love or, at the very least, genuine affection, is not for her, and Zach must admit that perhaps it’s time to leave behind his life full of disguise and subterfuge and grow up and into his responsibilities.
The Spring Bride is an enjoyable, easy read that’s very well-written and suffused with humour and affection. I did find it a little “lightweight” when compared to the other two books, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment, and I’m eagerly looking forward to tough-as-nails Daisy’s book, which will be the final one in the set.