Monday, December 7, 2015

Review: The Match of the Century by Cathy Maxwell

The Match of the Century 
by Cathy Maxwell
Series:  Marrying the Duke #1
Pub. Date:  Nov. 24, 2015
Publisher:  Avon
Pages:  384
Format:  eARC
Source:  Edelweiss

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

In New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell's glittering new series, wedding bells are ringing… until the return of a rake throws a bride's plans—and heart—into a tailspin...

Every debutante aspires to snag a duke. Elin Morris just happens to have had one reserved since birth. But postponements of her marriage to London's most powerful peer give Elin time to wonder how she will marry Gavin Baynton when she cannot forget his brother, Benedict.

Already exasperated at being yanked from the military to meet "family obligations," now Ben must suffer watching his arrogant sibling squire the only woman he has ever loved. Joining the army saved Ben from sinking into bitterness, but seeing Elin again takes him back to the day they surrendered to their intoxicating desire.

As the wedding draws near, Elin tries to push Ben far from her thoughts. When danger brings them together, there is no denying their feelings. But can Elin choose love over duty?

The Match of the Century is another solid historical/regency romance from the acclaimed Cathy Maxwell. I really can't say that I have ever read a book by Ms. Maxwell that I didn't like. I know that I am always going to get an engaging story with interesting characters.

Having started the series with A Little Thing Called Love, I was excited for this book featuring Elin, the daughter of our original couple, Fyclan and Jennifer Morris.  Elin has grown up being told of the prophecy by Fyclan's Irish/Romany grandmother, that one day his descendants would be dukes and princes. Seemingly in line with this prophecy, in A Little Thing Called Love, the infant Elin is betrothed to the young son of the Duke and Duchess of Baynton, who were close family friends. Because the families were close, it is no surprise that Elin has grown up with the Baynton offspring. However, as a child, her best friend was not the heir (who was off learning to be a duke), but was instead the youngest son, Ben. Elin and Ben's relationship outgrew the mere friendship stage, which culminated in one inexperienced night together.  After which, Ben leaves for the military and Elin does not hear from Ben for 8 years - until the night of her betrothal ball to the duke (Gavin).

While Elin was a solid female lead, I really had a stronger emotional connection to Ben. His pining for Elin and the contempt he felt for his position in life really jumped off the page and grabbed me. Ben was admirable for working his way up through the military, and I really felt for him when certain actions were taken by the duke and dowager duchess to bring him home to stand in Gavin's shadow. I could feel the frustration he felt at being so misunderstood and overlooked by his family.

Additionally, as much as I loved Ben, I also liked Gavin.  Ms. Maxwell could have painted Gavin as a horrible and pompous duke, forcing the issue of the marriage no matter the feelings between his betrothed and his brother.  However, Gavin was likable and I am really looking forward to his book. I think we will get to see a lot of new experiences and personal growth for him when the time comes.

Once thing about this book that shocked me was that I did not like the parents at all.  As much as I loved them in A Little Thing Called Love, I hated them just as much here. Despite knowing that Elin was in love (or strong like) with Ben, they were foisting the marriage to the duke on her just because of an alleged prophecy. Both Fyclan and Jennifer seemed distant and uncaring to their daughter... like they only had enough room in their hearts to love each other and Elin was left out in the cold. The dichotomy from the first installment of the series was just odd and made me a little sad.  But I will keep reading and hope that Gavin's book is as heartwarming as the first one of the series.

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Author

New York Times Bestselling Author, Cathy Maxwell spends hours in front of her computer pondering the question, “Why do people fall in love?” It remains for her the great mystery of life and the secret to happiness. She lives in beautiful Virginia with children, horses, dogs, and cats.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter |GoodReads



Her mother led Elin to her dressing table. She gently pushed Elin to sit on the bench and then knelt on the carpet in front of her, taking her hands and holding them.
“My daughter, we have discussed this. I thought you’d forgiven yourself. It was not a good incident in your life but nothing terrible came of it.”
“I have forgiven myself.” Elin’s voice sounded false to her own ears. “I just believe Baynton should know.”
“That his brother took advantage of his betrothed? Is that what you want to tell him?”
“I wouldn’t say who.” Especially since Baynton and his brothers had a turbulent history.
There had been three Whitridge sons residing at Baynton, until Gavin’s younger, Jack, had disappeared one night from Eton. Some claimed he’d had run off. Others believed foul play. No matter what, he was never seen or heard from again.
The disappearance had meant that the old duke had not wanted to let his last and youngest son meet the same end. Or have the same opportunity to escape. The old duke had been an exacting taskmaster. He had high expectations for his heir. Ben often felt he was an after thought. “A spare,” Ben had always claimed, oftentimes bitterly. “Always kept at bay.”
Because of Jack’s disappearance, his father had kept him at Trenton, the family estate, and had him educated by a succession of tutors with only Elin as a companion.
As an only child of parent who were often absent from the country, Elin had valued Ben’s company. She’d trusted him and to this day, could not believe he had taken her innocence to strike out at his oldest brother, as her mother had claimed. Everyone knew the brothers were highly competitive. The old duke liked them that way.
However, to Elin, the loss of her purity was a small thing in the face of the betrayal of a trusted friend. She’d known he’d longed for independence. He’d yearned to buy his commission and set off into the world.
What she hadn’t anticipated was that he would use her in such a deliberate way. That had seemed out of character. Her mother had assured her it was very much the nature of men and one of the reasons that from now on, her parents would protect her more closely.
And so they had. 

Marrying the Duke