Mary Jo here:
Since Anne Gracie and I both have July releases, we decided to interview each other! Anne talked to me about Once a Soldier last week, and now it's my turn to enthuse about Anne's The Summer Bride, the last of the Chance Sisters quartet. I enjoyed reading it so much that I promptly reread the first three books in the series.
The book has been well received, Romantic Times says, "Gracie's Chance Sisters have captivated readers and stolen their hearts, perhaps none more than Daisy, whose fast-paced story will delight fans. All the characters readers adore are part of the tale, and which the charming plot enchants, it's the characters who take center stage."
Library Journal’s verdict was: “Passionate and sumptuously witty, this final book in Gracie’s sparkling quartet has the entire household rooting (and plotting) for Daisy and Flynn to get things right.”
MJP: Anne, the premise for The Chance Sisters is brilliant, and the first book, The Autumn Bride, was listed as one of the ten best romances of the year by Library Journal, as well as being a Romantic Times Top Pick. Can you tell us about the premise? And do you have any idea of where such a great idea came from? (Probably not. <G>)
AG: Actually I do know where the inspiration for the first book came from — it was a dream I had, in which an old lady was lying in bed, ill and in a desperate state, and a young woman climbed in her window. I scribbled it down in my notebook, and it kept nagging me and throwing up questions — who was the old lady, why was the girl climbing in the window — for no honest reason, surely? And that’s how I knew it was the start of a story.
The basic premise is, four girls band together as “sisters of the heart” in order to survive. When they find Lady Beatrice ill, neglected and abused by her servants, they pretend to be her nieces, and the girls and the old lady form a kind of family.
MJP: The four couples have been very different, so their romance are all quite different. But in The Summer Bride, Daisy and Flynn are the most unusual of all, particularly Daisy. Will you tell us about her?
AG: Daisy is the Cockney maidservant who risked her safety to help Jane and Damaris escape from the brothel where they were imprisoned. She started off in my mind as a minor character, but as soon as she hit the page, she sprang to life. She’s gutsy and outspoken and has a dream. I loved her from the start, so I was determined to give Daisy her own story.
Here’s a small snippet of Daisy’s thoughts:
Daisy had no illusions about herself. She was a little Cockney guttersnipe with a gimpy leg and a foul mouth—though she was working on the swearing, and her grammar. But she loved beautiful clothes and—praise be!— she was good at making them.
She was going to be somebody, and she was going to do it all herself; Daisy Chance, Dressmaker to the Toffs, with a shop and a business all her own. That was her dream, and she was so hungry for it she could almost taste it.
MJP: The hero, Flynn, is one gorgeous hunk of Irishman. Tell me more!
AG: Again, he’s not a typical hero. And in the spirit of “show don’t tell” I’ll use another snippet from the book. Flynn aims to marry “the finest lady in London.’ Here he’s talking to Lady Beatrice, who’s cross with him for not taking her into his confidence:
She eyed him narrowly. "Finding you've aimed rather too high, have you? I did warn you. A low-born, uneducated sea-captain, Irish—and Roman Catholic to boot!" She shook her head.
"Lapsed, m'lady, and though all you say is true, I don't believe I'm aimin' too high," Flynn said mildly. He was comfortable in his own skin and knew his own worth. "I'm also rich—a self-made man with a fleet of ships and a tradin' empire that spreads from here to the four corners of the earth."
Lady Beatrice sniffed. "Money acquired in trade."
Flynn grinned, undeceived by her disparaging tone. "Aye, m'lady, lots of nasty vulgar money at me disposal which the poor lass who consents to become me wife will have to help me spend. 'Twill be a terrible burden for her, I'm thinkin'."
Lady Beatrice's finely painted lips twitched. "Undoubtedly. Modesty is not one of your virtues, is it, Mr. Flynn."
Flynn shrugged. He'd never seen the point of hiding his light under a bushel.
MJP: Though Daisy and Flynn are connected with members of the beau monde by bonds of friendship, they are both openly involved in commercial activities – in “trade!” How does that tie into the larger society?
AG: It’s actually one of the things Daisy and Flynn bond over. The upper classes tended to frown on “trade” – they liked money. of course, but it was vulgar to refer to it, and they tended to look down on shopkeepers. But Daisy and Flynn also argue about business—she’s stubborn and her background has made her wary of trusting others—especially men.
“You’re looking exhausted,” Flynn said bluntly.
“So what? Hard work never killed nobody. I’m startin’ a business, remember?”
“I know, and that’s why I decided to come tonight, when nobody else was here to overhear what I have to say.”
Daisy gave him a flinty look. “What’s it got to do with you?”
“Nothing. But I know a lot more about how to run a business than you do, and I have to tell you, you’re goin’ about it the wrong way.”
Daisy stiffened. She set down her teacup with a clatter. “Well, thanks very much, Mr. Flynn, and now you’ve told me, you can get back to your bloody ball.”
“Settle down, firebrand, I mean no insult.”
“No? You tell me I’m doin’ everything wrong—me, who’s workin’ my fingers to the bone every hour God sends, making beautiful clothes for Jane and the others—clothes that other ladies want to order—an’ you expect me not to be angry? Bloody oath, I’m angry! What the hell would you know about ladies’ clothin’ anyway?”
MJP: Thanks so much for sharing a little of the book, Anne. Now I'm ready to reread The Summer Bride! Leave a comment or answer this question by midnight Thursday to get into the drawing for a copy of the book.
Anne's Question: Editors are always telling me that people only want to read about aristocratic heroines. Is that true for you?
MJP: Thanks so much for the lovely interview, Anne. We'll have to do this again if the book release schedule permits!