The Fairest of Them All by Cathy Maxwell (Marrying The Duke #2)

The Fairest Of Them All by Cathy MaxwellAvailable: May 30, 2016 Amazon/B&N

Type: Historical Romance

Publisher: Avon

My Copy: Edelweiss

Reviewer: Pam

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 . . .

This is the second book in the series; I enjoyed this immensely although I am beginning to feel sorry for the Duke who has been passed over twice, I look forward to his book.

Lady Charlene Blanchard is an orphan trying to take care of her father’s debts. From an unlikely friend she learned the art of pickpocketing and is using this skill to help pay the debt. She lives with her aunt Sarah, an actress who is on the fringe of society, but who does not know about Charlene’s gift. When her aunt finds out a prominent Duke is looking for a bride, she pulls out all the stops to have Charlene ready to meet him at an invitation only ball. Charlene charms him and things are looking good until she meets his twin brother Jack, the same man who caught her during a successful pickpocket raid and who also realizes she was posing as a boy.

Jack Whitridge disappeared ten years ago, many thought he was dead but he unexpectedly appears during the ball and shocks everyone, including his twin brother the Duke of Baynton, his mother and Lady Charlene. During school when he was a teen he knew he could not continue to be the second son that his father never cared for, so he left, traveled a while until he made his way to the new country, now a lawyer he is back in London trying to prevent a war between his adopted country and England.

Gavin, The Duke of Baynton, is just coming off a broken relationship where his younger brother married Elin and now he is ready to find a bride for himself. Throwing a ball for worthy ladies, he spots a woman he is interested in and wants to court; yep you guessed it, Charlene. She is also interested; however she is thrown for a loop when she sees Jack. Poor Gavin is about to swing and miss again.

This is a very enjoyable read that had me hooked from the beginning. I enjoyed the first book and wondered if Gavin would find his love, alas we have to wait for the next book, however this sets up a great third book where Gavin will find his HEA, and from the excerpt it will be a fun read.

Jack left as an angry young man full of adventure and ready to find his own way in life. He returns much wiser and ready to help the country he adopted. He and Gavin did not have that twin thing going, never bonded like some and Jack blamed the fact that Gavin was always working toward being a duke. The reaction to his return is interesting, many think he is a trader, some believe he will change his mind and stay, but with his brother’s recommendation the leaders are willing to listen to him; that is until his brother finds out about how Charlene and Jack feel about each other. There are a lot of misunderstandings and although Gavin is angry he was never in love with Charlene and after a race to stop their relationship, he makes this realization.

Charlene is in a bind, she needs to find a way to make enough money to pay her debts but also keep her secret from Gavin and Sarah who do not know anything about how she keeps a roof over their heads. She needs to marry Gavin to help her and Sarah and she encourages him to court her but she has so much going on that she is distracted and with Jack around she eventually makes her choice.

The pace works well; it was steady and did not bog down anywhere. I knew who she was going to choose from the blurb but the anticipation was entertaining as I wanted to see how things would unfold. Charlene and Jack have a link and you can sense the chemistry between them as there is a desperate need to be together. I am not a fan of triangles but this turned out to be a bit different, no real angst to bog the story down. I think one issue I had is that I am anticipating Gavin’s book so much, especially after reading this one. I enjoyed several secondary characters, Gavin has been relegated to a second character in both books so I will be happy to see how he thrives as a main character, and I also liked Sarah who we will also see more of soon. All in all a great addition to the series, now on to the next.

I give The Fairest of Them All by Cathy Maxwell 4 stars!

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