Saturday, May 28, 2016

Series Saturday Review: The Fairest of Them All by Cathy Maxwell

Series:     Marrying the Duke #2
Pub. Date:May 31, 2016
Publisher:Avon
Length:384 pages
Source:Edelweiss

I was a big fan of the prior two books in the Marrying the Duke series. I thought Jennifer and Fyclan's story in A Little Thing Called Love was uplifting and happy, and I had a great emotional connection to Ben in his and Elin's story in The Match of the Century.  While The Fairest of Them All was an okay read, it is not my favorite of the series.

In The Match of the Century, I really liked Gavin, the Duke of Baynton. In that story, Gavin was betrothed to the heroine at birth, but she was in love with his youngest brother, Ben, so Gavin graciously stepped aside for his sibling and family friend. So I was really hoping that the Duke would find his bride in this book! At first, it was promising. Gavin was absolutely smitten with our current heroine, Charlene Blanchard, a penniless orphan and (unbeknownst to the Duke) pickpocket. He courted her in his awkward way and it was clear he had no experience with women. But he tried so hard. I love him just as much as I did in the last book.

But then Gavin's long lost twin brother, Jack, returns from the dead and throws a wrench in things. Jack has showed up as an American diplomat trying to prevent the War of 1812, and the only way he can gain the right audience in London is if Gavin intercedes on his behalf. When Jack catches Char picking pockets, then later recognizes her in the company of his brother, he must discover her motive. This starts a series of encounters between Jack and Char during which they develop a tendre for one another.

While I liked all of the characters of the story individually, I didn't care for the love triangle. I felt sorry for Gavin, losing out on another bride to another brother, particularly when he really wanted this one. I liked his character so much that I had a hard time thinking that he was going to be jilted again. So it was hard for me to cheer for Jack because I would have been, by default, hoping that Gavin failed. I was also missing some chemistry between Char and Jack - I didn't feel the grand passion that I would expect for a story in this trope. At least their feelings and desperation didn't match what we got with Ben and Elin in the last book.

I loved Char's godmother, the aging actress who dressed like a peacock and taught Char how to pickpockets. I have mixed feelings about Char's Aunt Sarah, mainly because of something she does in the last quarter of the book that set off a regrettable chain of events. And the worst part of it was that Gavin turned the tables on me and I started not liking him. 

The end of the story leaves us with an inkling of who Gavin's match will finally be, and I'm not quite sure how I feel about the pairing. However, I will continue reading to see if the relationship is as explosive as I believe it will be.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Avon via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

Marrying the Duke