The Fairest of Them All by Cathy Maxwell

FAIREST
The Fairest of Them All by Cathy Maxwell
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (384 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Quince

In New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell’s glittering new series, wedding bells are ringing…but which Whitridge twin is the right groom?

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 . . .

Who is a right man for her? The one who is not looking for a wife but knows all her secrets, or the one who is looking for a wife, but doesn’t know anything about her?  Although from the very beginning it’s quite obvious who will win Lady Charlene Blanchard’s heart it was interesting to watch how appearances, first meetings and emotions first became complicated in order to be resolved.

Cathy Maxwell does not write typical romance novels. The Fairest of Them All is a sensual novel focused on falling in love without getting in bed or having a marriage of convenience first. This is a novel about love at first sight and Ms. Maxwell wrote it so believably. The pace of the story is a bit uneven, it takes off quickly but doesn’t sustain the pace into the middle. It actually drags a bit only to speed up again. Putting slower parts aside, the question of how Lady Charlene and her hero – Jack Whitridge find their HEA is what pushes this lovely story forward and kept me reading.

Both main characters are amazing. Lady Charlene might be the fairest of them all, but she is also the most courageous and the smartest of them all. She’s a strong woman who is trying her best to get out of a very dire situation. Jack Whitridge is her true soulmate, he is a son of a duke, but he doesn’t have a title. He doesn’t care about it either. Jack knows Charlene’s secret, and as they are getting to know better one another and fall in love, he doesn’t try to change her, he just wants to protect her and to slay a few dragons for her. The connection between them is so sensual, palpable and sincere.

The secondary characters are magnificent too. I refer here to Lady Charlene’s aunt Sarah Pettijohn and Jack’s twin brother Gavin Whitridge. Gavin is a lovable antihero, while Sarah is opinionated actress. From the conflict between two of them it is quite obvious that they will be the main characters in the third installment of the series Marrying the Duke. I cannot wait to see how these two will fall in love.

Although it is a second in the series, The Fairest of Them All can be read as a standalone. I really enjoyed reading it. It is a funny, sensual story that I highly recommend.

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