Monday, October 24, 2016

ARC Review: A Date at the Altar by Cathy Maxwell

Series:     Marrying the Duke #3
Pub. Date:Oct 25, 2016
Length:384 pages

Throughout this series, we have been (in my case) not-so-patiently waiting for love to fall in the lap of Gavin Whitridge, Duke of Baynton. So I knew when this book came out that I had to get my hands on it... so, thanks Avon! I urge you to read the books of this series in order so you will get Gavin's whole story, but its not absolutely necessary if you are picking up this book before the others.

Warning!!! This review may contain spoilers for earlier books in the series. Not big ones... and you can probably figure them out from the book blurbs, but I thought I would throw out the warning just in case.

So... Gavin Whitridge, Duke of Baynton. I just loved him in the first book, The Match of the Century. Poor Gavin has now been jilted by two brides in favor of his brothers, and I don't know how he doesn't have more of a complex about him. He is an exceedingly noble and virtuous hero - literally - having saved himself for his bride. He never expected to be a 30+ year old virgin, and he is feeling the itch quite bad these days. After pursuing Charlene so doggedly in The Fairest of Them All, I was really upset when she was stolen away by another brother. Gavin was just so eminently likable... until he wasn't. He acted like a bit of an arse towards the end of Fairest and I started to lose my enthusiasm for Team Gavin. But now, after reading this book, I have to say that I probably would have been a bit of a grumpypants too if my siblings kept stealing my betrothed away. In A Date at the Altar, Gavin redeems himself and, for the most part, goes back to being that nice and noble hero from the earlier books. He is just a little more jaded now. 

We met Mrs. Sarah Pettijohn in The Fairest of Them All as Charlene's strong-willed aunt, a former actress and hopeful playwright. Sarah has hair the color of rubies, emerald eyes, and the tart tongue of a bitter snark. She has fallen on hard times since Charlene and Jack moved to Boston, and desperate time call for desperate measures. When her actions garner the somewhat expected consequences, Sarah must suck up her pride and go to Baynton for assistance. While I felt for Sarah's situation and found her desire for a career to be admirable... sometimes she was just too plucky for me. That bitterness seeped out fairly often and it caused me to not connect to her character. Of course I would probably feel the same way in her situation, but I was just so firmly on Team Gavin that I wanted him to have a little less difficulty with his match.

The relationship between these two was tenuous more often than not. Gavin is awkward with women and often says things to offend Sarah unintentionally... and I think Sarah resented having to get help from a man. So I didn't feel a grand passion with their characters, but I did find their story to be entertaining nonetheless. Maxwell did a good job at highlighting the difficulty women faced during this time period, and shined a less-than-flattering light on the historical male who felt he was entitled to do as he pleased without repercussion. It makes me really glad that I was born in this era because I certainly would not have been one of those aristocratic women of leisure, so I shudder to think of what my life would have been like in the 1800s.

There weren't many secondary characters of note in this installment. We were revisited by some favorites from past books: Ben from Match, Char's Godmother from Fairest, and Fyclan from A Little Thing Called Love. I believe this will be the end of this series now that Gavin has gotten his story, so I would have to say that my favorite book of this venture was A Little Thing Called Love. Jennifer and Fyclan were just so great that they cast a long shadow on the following books.

I voluntarily reviewed an advance copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Avon.

Marrying the Duke