‘The Fairest of Them All’ by Cathy Maxwell

tfota cmSTORY: 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 . . .

REVIEW: London – 1813

Lady Charlene (Char) Blanchard, age 19, is dressed as a lad waiting to pick pockets. Char lives with her Aunt Sarah Pettijohn, and her friend, Lady Baldwin. Lady Baldwin had once been an actress like Sarah. Lady Baldwin had also committed some small crimes in the past and had taught Char how to pick pockets. Char’s parents passed away leaving Char penniless due to her father’s gambling.

Today, Char’s prey is a man who has come out of a bank with a fat purse of money. He’s walking with a couple of friends heading for some good times. When Char grabs the purse of money out of the man’s pocket, one of his friends see her and chases her. When he catches up with her, he is surprised to find that instead of a lad, this is a beautiful young lady. She still manages to elude him and gets home with the money.

Upon arrival at home, Lady Baldwin tells Char that Gavin Whitridge, the 5th Duke of Baynton, is looking for a wife. To that end, he has sent out invitations to young ladies to attend a ball that he is hosting and Char has received one of those invitations. Immediately, Sarah and Lady Baldwin begin plotting to get the Duke to marry Char. He is said to be age 32, handsome, and has a twin brother, named Jack, who disappeared back when he was attending school at Eton.

The man who chased Char is none other than Jack Whitridge, who has returned to London. He has been in America all of this time and is fully entrenched in the American way of life. He has returned to Britain as he is now head of the American delegation wishing to meet with the British as he sees war in their future and hopes to deter it.

At the ball, Char is introduced to the Duke who is immediately smitten with her beauty and wants only her. At the same time, Char meets the Duke’s brother and they recognize one another for he was the man who chased her when she stole the money purse. Oh no! What a mess.

The story continues to show us the background of the Duke and his brother, as well as Char’s past. Can all of these people find a way to deal with their hurts, anger, and disappointment?

I liked the general plot of this story, but felt like it just plodded along at times as if to fill pages. I rarely see this, but was quite surprised to find a fairly poor job had been done in editing the book. Too many errors simply slipped past the editors.

Connie for b2b

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