Series: Chance Sisters #2
Published by Berkley on April 1, 2014
Genres: Historical Romance
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?
Raised in China by her strict missionary father, Damaris Chance now resides with her “Aunt Beatrice” and “sisters” in Berkley Square in London. Her Aunt’s son, Max, just married one of her sisters and they are off enjoying their honeymoon. In the meantime, Damaris, her Aunt, and sisters are being looked after by Max’s friend, Freddy Monkton-Combes. Or as his business partner Flynn likes to call him: “Hyphen-Hyphen.” But it’s not all smooth sailing for Freddy as he is constantly hounded by “muffins” bent on leading him to the alter, Aunt Beatrice’s mischievous schemes and gossip-filled stories, and one Damaris Chance sneaking out of the house at the crack of dawn.
Damaris’ cool and collected outward demeanor shields a deep sense of insecurity and fear of abandonment. She pushes herself to maintain a certain degree of independence and self-sufficiency through her work painting popular Chinese designs onto pottery for the London masses. This independence is challenged when Freddy catches her sneaking out of the house earl one morning and insists he at least accompany her to the pottery to protect her from the ruffians that frequent her path. Thus begins Damaris and Freddy’s slow seduction.
Neither Damaris nor Freddy have any interest in marriage. Both are plagued by guilt from their past that makes them believe they are not worthy of love or marriage. But they begin developing a friendship during their daily walks to the pottery and soon Freddy proposes a fake betrothal that will get them both something they desperately need. From there, it is simply a matter of time before love develops and Freddy must convince Damaris to make their fake betrothal a real one.
The romance in The Winter Bride is sometimes sweet, sometimes spicy. I think Damaris and Freddy make a good pair because they compliment each other very well. But there are times where the story becomes a little too boiler-plate, particularly towards the end. It was a slow start, a decent middle, and sort of tripped at the end into the realm of cliched. But it was still an enjoyable read with a fantastic cast of secondary characters and sharp dialogue that will keep you laughing til the end.
I did knock off a half star for the following spoiler and trigger warning: View Spoiler » Damaris’s big struggle with relationships and marriage is that she was raped for months on the journey from China to England. I hate rape in romance novels for a multitude of reasons that I will not go into here. I took off the half star because there was no warning that this was a part of the story and such plot devices leave a sour, bitter taste in my mouth. It isn’t described in detail or anything, but the fact that it happened plays a significant part in shaping Damaris’ character and her reactions to Freddy. « Hide Spoiler I don’t like giving spoilers in my reviews, but because it also carries such a heavy trigger warning, I felt it best to include it here as a warning to others.
Aside from that issue, I did enjoy The Winter Bride. I think it would be helpful to read The Autumn Bride (Chance Sisters #1) before reading this book, but I understood enough of the family dynamic to roughly figure out what happened before to lead up to the story presented now. Damaris and Freddy were a fun couple and I especially loved their interactions with Freddy’s parents. Overall, a solid book with an array of spitfire secondary characters. Recommended with reservation due to the trigger warning, but I do think it is worth checking out the rest of the series.