Published by Avon Impulse on August 21, 2018
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
The PlanWhen an act of quiet violence leaves country beauty Tessa St. Croix pregnant and abandoned, she fears disinheritance from her wealthy parents. To the rescue comes the self-made man of Joseph Chance, a shipping merchant in the market for a society wife. If Tessa can charm Mr. Chance into marrying her, the baby may be passed off as his own and Tessa can forget her disgrace and that terrible night. It's a perfect plan until Tessa finds herself falling in love with the smart, handsome Joseph Chance and consumed with guilt about her lie of omission. She manages the wedding ceremony but cannot go through with their wedding night without a confession.
The PlummetJoseph Chance thought he'd met the perfect girl from the perfect family and was destined, finally, for a perfect life—until his new wife informs him that she is carrying another man's child. Devastated and betrayed, Joseph rejects everything he thought he knew about the new Mrs. Chance. Her weeks of affection and devotion now seem calculating and disingenuous, and her professed love was clearly a lie. He's too much of a gentleman to divorce her, but he stashes her with her friends in a townhome in Belgravia and leaves the country, nursing his feelings of betrayal.
The ProvidenceWhen a shipping deal goes bad on his first return trip to London, Joseph Chance is forced to seek out his estranged wife and the baby who now bears his name. To his surprise, Tessa is nothing like the conniving strategist he had painted in his memory. Again and again, he finds himself cautiously returning to Belgravia to unravel the mystery of the stranger who is also his wife. Can he tell the difference between curiosity and unexpected desire?
Tessa, meanwhile, has been strengthened by motherhood and life in London. But is it strength enough to forgive Joseph's bitterness and melt his cautious, guarded heart?
Tessa St. Croix and her friends Sabine and Willow had posted an advertisement for husbands. They had their personal reasons and Tessa, once the town’s most scintillating jewel, was desperate to marry any man who would have her. Joseph Chance had been interested in the advert as it gave him more money for his business venture, but he didn’t actually want to get married. As he was leisurely looking around, he happened to hear then see the most glorious female specimen he had ever laid his eyes on, and lo and behold, that golden goddess could be his future bride; she was as delightful as she was beautiful. Tessa nearly swooned at the divinely handsome man before her, and he was as enchanting as he was good-looking. Maybe it would all work out. Maybe she could wait a little while until she told him her terrible secret.
From the very first page, I was entirely under Charis Michaels’ spell, and I wondered how I would avoid making an utter fool of myself when writing this review because ALL DRESSED IN WHITE is just so perfect! I was completely emotionally invested in the relationship, and it was love at first sight with the characters – as it was for Joseph and Tessa – because they are so alive, so enticing, so wonderfully real, totally irresistible. And when the moment of truth happened, it was handled astonishingly well by Ms. Michaels; the first of several literary tours de force from the author. I soon became a sobbing mess, as I read completely enthralled. I was stunned at the briskness of the pace, I had expected some segments to drag, but instead Joseph and Tessa – who were wonderfully complex characters to begin with– undergo a tremendous amount of growth, and the story takes us in many unexpected directions.
ALL DRESSED IN WHITE is a monument of carefully crafted storytelling, of characters who handle their anger, shame, love, mistakes the way human beings ought to. This is a story told from the heart of an author who does not insult her readers’ intelligence, who leaves nothing to chance and takes us on an incredibly rewarding voyage. From the incandescent murmurs of love at the beginning to the perilous climb back from the abyss, I believed in Tessa and Joseph’s every word, every gesture; I also understood why they acted the way they did, and I could empathise with both of them.
I also loved the attention to historical details on the import/export business of the 1830s, on taking care of a baby, on the unfortunate fate of women in eras past, and I adored the fabulous Perry, Tessa’s maid, whose story I dream of reading maybe one day. I have unfortunately not read the first instalment, Any Groom Will Do, and I plan to read it as soon as I can, not because elements are missing, but because I was so extraordinarily impressed with ALL DRESSED IN WHITE (I still don’t understand the title though). The writing is splendid and effortlessly elegant; the dialogues are marvels of wit and intelligence; and Tessa and Joseph are characters of incredible depth brought to life by this exceptionally gifted author; there are few characters of whom I can honestly say that I admired, respected, and loved both of them, even when they are at fault? I turned the last page with reluctance because I had to leave the world of The Brides of Belgravia; what a truly marvellous book.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.