Guest Review: The Fairest of Them All by Cathy Maxwell

Posted May 27, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Fairest of Them All by Cathy MaxwellReviewer: Tracy
The Fairest of Them All by Cathy Maxwell
Series: Marrying the Duke #2
Published by HarperCollins, Avon Romance
Publication Date: May 31st 2016
Genres: Romance, Historical
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three-half-stars

The penniless orphan of a disreputable earl, Lady Charlene Blanchard thrives on the adventure of picking the pockets of unsavory gentlemen to survive. But due to her extraordinary beauty and prized bloodlines, she is hand-chosen as a potential bride for the Duke of Baynton, who is on the hunt for a suitable wife to provide heirs. All Char has to do is act the part she was born to play and charm a duke she’s never laid eyes on into proposing. Except the duke turns out to be the tall, dark and sexy stranger who just caught her red-handed as a thief!

Or is he? Jack Whitridge is the duke’s twin who had “gone missing” over ten years ago. Now back in England, he knows that the supposed Lady who has his brother’s love is hardly duchess material—except he needs her to save his adopted country from war. He is willing to bargain with her heart, until he finds himself falling for Char . . .

The penniless orphan of a disreputable earl, Lady Charlene Blanchard thrives on the adventure of picking the pockets of unsavory gentlemen to survive. But due to her extraordinary beauty and prized bloodlines, she is hand-chosen as a potential bride for the Duke of Baynton, who is on the hunt for a suitable wife to provide heirs. All Char has to do is act the part she was born to play and charm a duke she’s never laid eyes on into proposing. Except the duke turns out to be the tall, dark and sexy stranger who just caught her red-handed as a thief!

Or is he? Jack Whitridge is the duke’s twin who had “gone missing” over ten years ago. Now back in England, he knows that the supposed Lady who has his brother’s love is hardly duchess material—except he needs her to save his adopted country from war. He is willing to bargain with her heart, until he finds himself falling for Char . . .

Charlene is an orphan who lives with her aunt Sarah.  Sarah is an actress and takes as many jobs as possible to make ends meet.  Charlene’s uncle (not related to Sarah) had been paying Charlene’s expenses until a few months prior and then all money just stopped coming.  One of Charlene’s good friends (her deceased mother’s godmother) taught her how to pick pockets and Charlene had been doing that and telling Sarah that the money had come from her uncle.  On one of the days she is out picking pockets she decides on a gentleman to rob but doesn’t plan on his friend chasing her when he sees she’s escaping.

Charlene gets away from her pursuer but not before they get a good look at each other.  Though Charlene is dressed as a boy the man, Jack Whitridge, sees that she is a woman and from that point on cannot get her out of his head.

Charlene, though penniless, has impeccable bloodlines and her aunt arranges for her to attend a ball where she can meet the Duke of Baynton who is looking for a wife.  She doesn’t believe anything will come of it but she attends anyway and the duke is completely taken with her.  Unfortunately, the ball is interrupted when the duke’s long lost brother, Jack, shows up.  Charlene manages to hide from him but soon he discovers that his twin is courting her.

Jack left England when he was press-ganged into service.  He managed to leave the ship eventually and landed in America where he has lived and worked since that time.  He’s now a lawyer and is back in England to try to talk to the powers-that-be to try to stop a war between England and America (which would eventually become the War of 1812) but no one wants to talk.  No one takes the American’s seriously and they even look at Jack as a bit of a turncoat as it seems he’s turning his back on England by defending America. Jack knows that he must do his best for his adopted country but his duties don’t stop him from confronting Charlene and then falling for her.  Despite how much he likes her, however, he can’t take her from his twin – or can he?

This was a sweet story that was a bit different.  At first I wasn’t sure who I wanted to win Charlene – Jack or his twin, Gavin the duke. I liked them both at first but Gavin proved to be a stick in the mud, which I didn’t really care fore.  Also, once he found out about Charlene and Jack he did some pretty rotten things to his twin and I really didn’t like that.

Charlene was a great heroine.  She was very responsible and though she went about finding fund for their household the wrong way I had to admire her for trying.  She really did want to make her family happy and if that meant marrying the duke then she would do it.  Unfortunately, she had had met Jack before the duke and had already started liking him and that put the big kibosh on any feelings she might have had for Gavin in the future.

I very much liked Jack’s character.  He was trying to do the right thing for his adopted country and though I could see how he was troubled by people thinking of him as a traitor I was happy that he stood his ground and continued on his original goal.  He was a good man and I liked that he stood up for what he believed in.

I have to say that I would have liked to have seen more of a romance between Charlene and Jack.  It seemed like there was infatuation and that it was starting to turn into more and then boom!  They were in love and nothing could tear them apart.  I was more than a bit surprised by the progression of the relationship as it just didn’t seem like the pair had spent enough time in each others company to feel the way they did.  IDK, maybe it’s just me, but I really needed more in the build-up between the two of them.

The story overall is romantic and a good read but was lacking a bit in that relationship build-up that I needed.  Even though Gavin was a bit of an ass in this story I’m curious to see what happens with this conservative fuddy-duddy when it’s time for his romance.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars

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