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Anne Gracie is our guest today to tell us all about her latest, The Winter Bride, second book in her Chance Sisters Series. It was just announced that Anne’s first book in the series, The Autumn Bride, is a RITA finalist for Best Historical!

Here’s what reviewers are saying about The Winter Bride:

“Gracie has created a wonderful cast of characters…lively dialogue and tender emotions compel readers to relish every moment of the developing romance” —RT Book Reviews

“Charming…thoughtful and tender.” —Publishers Weekly

“…another delightful, emotionally complex romance…a romantic winner, with Gracie’s typical witty charm and sweeping emotion.” —Kirkus Reviews

Anne will be giving away a copy of The Winter Bride to one lucky commenter, chosen at random.

Anne! Welcome back to Risky Regencies.

Tell us about The Winter Bride and the Chance Sisters series.

The Chance sisters series are about four girls who come together in Regency-era London. Two are real sisters, but, being orphans and without any means of support, they band together to become a family, “sisters of the heart” rather than by blood. When they meet an elderly aristocratic old lady who is in an even more desperate situation than they are, they rescue her—and their fortunes change for the better. That happened in The Autumn Bride, the first book in the series.

Now we have — surprise surprise — The Winter Bride. This is Damaris’s story — she was raised in China as the daughter of a missionary, and came back to England as a penniless young woman. With secrets in her past, she has no desire to marry; a cottage of her own — security and safety— is all she wants.

Freddy, our hero, is a lighthearted rake, an elegant bad-boy with no interest in marriage. In line to inherit his father’s title, he’s rich, well connected and a catch. Freddy is pursued by muffins – his term for the kind of respectable, eligible girls bent on marrying and reforming him.

To keep the muffins at bay, Freddy offers Damaris a cottage in exchange for pretending to be his fiancée for a visit to his parental home. Of course it backfires.

What is risky about The Winter Bride?

Freddy isn’t the usual kind of romance hero — he’s very much a beta hero — a lightweight, funny rake, and women often get the better of him. Even Damaris’s employer says this of him:

“Tomcat in gen’leman’s clothing, that’s what ’e is—a rake through and through.”
“Rake? You thought—”
Mrs. Jenkins snorted. “I knew what he was the instant I clapped eyes on him! Dressed like that in his fancy duds at this hour of the mornin’. The cheek of ’im, thinking he could seduce away one o’ my girls in broad daylight.”
“But he wasn’t—”
“Bless you, my dove, you’re too young to recognize a Wicked Seducer when you see one, and I grant you that one is an ’andsome devil, and charmin’ as an oiled snake, I have no doubt!” She fixed Damaris with a gimlet eye. “But it don’t do for a girl like you to catch the eye of a gentleman, take it from me. He’ll soften you up with sweet words and little gifts and . . . and poetry, and you’ll think ’e’s ever such a nice fellow, then in the twinklin’ of an eye, he’ll ’ave your skirts over your ’ead, and there you’ll be, rooned forever!”
“But Mrs. Jenkins—”
“Rooned forever!” Mrs. Jenkins repeated firmly. “And we don’t want that, do we? Now, I’ve given him a piece of me mind—blistered ’is ear’oles good and proper, I did—and if ’e knows what’s good for ’im, he won’t be back to bother you again, so let’s get to work.”
Damaris nodded and resumed her seat at the bench. She had to press her lips together to hide the smile that kept threatening to break out. She could just imagine Mr. Monkton-Coombes’s face when he was confronted with Mrs. Jenkins, four foot eight of Righteous Indignation.

But Freddy comes into his own, and grows into a hero I hope readers will love.

You asked fans on Facebook to pick a favorite The Winter Bride book cover – North America or Australia? Which one won?

I think the Australian one, by a whisker. But why not let the Riskies readers decide?

Share with us one memory of your own “sisters of the heart.”

I’m the baby in my family and am far in age and geography from my blood sisters, but I have some wonderful friends who are my “sisters of the heart.” I have two friends I went to school with and we’ve celebrated every birthday since we were fifteen, and been there for each other for all that time. And right now I’m away with a group of writer friends who are very much my “sisters of the heart” — we go away for a week each year and write, and in between, there’s email and phones. We’ve been there for each other through death, divorce, illness and for all the joyful occasions. I love my “sisters of the heart.”

What do you like best about the writer’s life?

The wonderful friends I’ve made, some of whom I’ve only met in person several times. And it’s a blessing to be able to have the stories that blossom in my head come out as books and have readers enjoy them.

What is next for you?

You probably find this surprising, but I’m working on a book called . . . wait for it . . .The Spring Bride. (You’d never have guessed that title, would you? )
This is Jane’s story, but her hero is a surprise — a bit of a wild card.

Thanks so much for letting me visit, Riskies and Diane. I’m currently writing The Spring Bride, and since I know so many people are desperate for winter to be gone, here’s a question: what do you most love about Spring?

Remember. I’ll give a copy of The Winter Bride to someone who leaves a comment.

Diane here. Be patient. Anne is “Down Under” and may be asleep when you comment. She’ll drop by when daylight reaches Oz.

We’ll select a winner and announce on Wednesday.


AGraciemugshotDiane here to welcome back fabulous Australian author Anne Gracie who is here to talk about her latest, The Autumn Bride. Anne is the award-winning author of Regency Historical Romance (and a few others).

Anne and I have mutual friends in Australia. When her first book,  A Gallant Waif, was a RITA finalist in 2000, and Anne came to the Romance Writers of America conference, we were supposed to meet and have a little chat, but we kept missing each other. It was only on the last day we managed a quick hello.

I’m delighted to have Anne as our guest today and to manage a “virtual” chat about The Autumn Bride, which has received some wonderful reviews.AutumnBride64k


Publishers Weekly starred review: Gracie . . . charms and entices with this launch of the Regency-era Chance Sisters series. . . . Layers of secrets and deft characterization make for a deep, rich story that will leave readers starry-eyed.

Romantic Times, 4 1/2 stars: Readers will want to take a a chance on this delightful, heartwarming series about sisters of the heart, family, friends, and the fun and passion of romance. Gracie lifts readers’ spirits, creating a delightful cast of characters, tender moments and lighthearted repartee designed to tug at the heart. Keep a hankie handy for tears of laughter and joy.

Nightowl Reviews: I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed a book quite this much. . . . I predict The Autumn Bride is going to be “THE” book to add to the TBR list of Historical Romance fans everywhere.


Anne will be giving away a copy of The Autumn Bride to one lucky commenter chosen at random.


1. Welcome, Anne. Tell us about The Autumn Bride.

This is the first book in a series about four young women, all orphans, who come together and form a kind of a family, When their situation goes from bad to worse, Abby, my heroine, climbs through the window of a nearby mansion hoping to find something to steal. Instead she finds a bedridden aristocratic old lady at the mercy of her neglectful, rapacious servants. The four girls move in with Lady Beatrice, pretending to be her nieces and sacking the servants. All goes well until Lady Beatrice’s nephew Max returns after nine years in the Far East. He’s not impressed to find his aunt under the sway of these impostors.

It’s a rags-to-riches, feel-good, fun story with a dark undertow. But mostly it’s about the joy of friendship, second chances, sisterhood — and love.

2. I love the premise and the concept of a hodgepodge family of women coming together. How did you come up with the idea of creating such a family, rather than one with traditional biological ties?

Thanks, Diane, I did have fun with it. And I’m from a family of four siblings, though these days we live very far from each other.

But I often like to write about people who’ve “fallen through the cracks” of Regency society — well born, but cut adrift from society through scandal, poverty, being orphaned, or through some other personal catastrophe. I’ve had a hero who was sent to sea at the age of seven, a heroine who travelled with the army, the son of an English lord who grew up on the streets of Naples, a heroine who grew up on the streets of Cairo, dressed as a boy and lots more. My stories are about their journey back — back to family, and back to the kind of society that should have been their birthright.

I also think that people today can identify with the idea of “sisters of the heart” — or as we say today, girlfriends. I think many of us are closer to our girlfriends than we are to our blood relatives.

Australian Cover

Australian Cover

3. What is risky about The Autumn Bride?

There are a few risky things — firstly the hero didn’t make his entrance for quite a few chapters. I was a bit worried that readers wouldn’t like that, but sometimes you have to write the book the way it needs to be written, and I loved the relationship that developed between the four girls and the feisty, bedridden Lady Beatrice. Luckily, a lot of readers feel the same.

Then there was my heroine’s risk when she climbs through the window of a mansion intending to steal, risking hanging or transportation. Here’s an excerpt:

The sash window was stiff, but she managed to push it up some more. She leaned in, listened, checked. Not a sound. A bedchamber. She could see the heavy hangings of the bed, an ornate wardrobe, a dressing table. No sign of life.
She swung one leg over the sill, heaved and she was in. She crouched a moment in the darkness, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the gloom, breathing deeply until her racing heart slowed.
Now to seek what she had come for. She crept toward the dressing table.
“Have you come to kill me?” The hoarse whisper coming out of the darkness almost stopped Abby’s heart. She swung around, scanning the room, braced to flee. Nothing moved, only shadows lit by the faint shimmer of moonlight from the windows where she’d pulled back the curtains. No sign of anyone.
“I said, have you come to kill me?” It came from the bed. Sounding more irritated than frightened.
“No, of course not!” Abby whispered back. She tiptoed closer to the bed, straining her eyes in the darkness. What she’d taken for a bundle of clothes piled on the bed was an old woman lying awkwardly, fallen between her pillows, her bedclothes rumpled in a twist.
“You’re a gel. Wearing breeches, but I can still tell you’re a gel.”
“Yes.” Abby waited. If the woman screamed or tried to raise the alarm she’d dive out of the window. It was risky, but better than being hanged or transported.
“You’re not here to kill me?”
Abby blinked. “Pity?”

4. Did you come across any interesting research when writing this book?

Not really — this story is more about characters than facts. Mostly the new research I did was about the district Lady Beatrice and the girls lived in, which centuries before had been a rich area filled with mansions, but in the Regency era was in decline, and starting to be redeveloped. Just like it happens today.

5. What is next for you?

I’m writing the second story in the series, and it’s more conventional in that the hero is on the page from the start. But the community of characters that’s in the first book is continuing, too. I really love the world of this story and I’m having a lot of fun with it.

Thanks Diane for letting me come and play with the Riskies.
Here’s a question for readers: “Is there anyone in your life that you consider ‘family’ even if they aren’t?”

I’ll give a copy of The Autumn Bride to one lucky commenter.

Diane here again. Anne will be back to answer any questions and to respond to comments, but, remember, she’ll be sleeping part of the time we’ll be awake, because she’s on the other side of the world!

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