The Fairest of Them All: Marrying the Duke

The Fairest of Them All: Marrying the Duke

4.0 7
by Cathy Maxwell

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In New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell’s glittering new series, wedding bells are ringing…but which Whitridge twin is the right groom?

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


In New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell’s glittering new series, wedding bells are ringing…but which Whitridge twin is the right groom?

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 . . . 

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Maxwell’s second Marrying the Duke Regency (after Match of the Century) is well written, with sharp historical accuracy and a slightly feminist bent. Beautiful Charlene is a penniless orphan, with only her family’s good name to attract potential suitors. She’s the ward of her actress aunt, and she enjoys their female-only household, but financial pressures require her to seek a wealthy husband. Enter Jack Whitridge, who manages to cross Charlene’s path in the most hilarious way. Seventeen years before, Jack abruptly left England, telling no one that he was leaving or where he was going. Now he returns to London to beg his twin brother, the Duke of Baynton, to support the fledgling nation of America, and he has no time for women—but coincidentally, he shows up on the night of the ball that’s intended to find the duke a wife. Readers are transported back to the time of grand balls and Gretna Green, and the romance is tinged with the faintest whiff of wartime gunpowder. Smart dialogue, a strong plot, and simmering politics make for a delicious read. Agent: Robin Rue, Writers House. (May)
RT Book Reviews
“Twisting and turning, constantly surprising readers, Maxwell tantalizes with an unconventional plot simmering with sexual tension and suspense...Smart, fun, sexy — this is what Maxwell’s readers want!”
Library Journal
Returning to London from America for the first time in years, Jack Whitridge nabs a young pickpocket who's just robbed his compatriot and is startled to find he's chased down a lady instead of a lad. Then he's even more stunned when the same lady (who has escaped) turns out to be Lady Charlene Blanchard, the beauty his twin brother, the straitlaced Duke of Baynton, plans to wed. Naturally, Jack intends to get to the bottom of things, but falling in love with his brother's "almost" intended isn't in the cards—until Lady Char takes action. VERDICT Jealousy, old resentments, and misunderstandings drive the plot of this charming, historically grounded Regency that brings an independent, spirited couple together and cleverly paves the way for the last of the trilogy. Maxwell (The Match of the Century) lives in Virginia.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-03-14
An impoverished noblewoman takes to petty crime until a handsome duke shows interest in marrying her. But does she even want a fairy-tale ending? In a romance novel, where the story almost always ends with a loving marriage, it can be difficult for authors to surprise their readers. But Maxwell (The Match of the Century, 2015, etc.) manages just that, keeping the reader in suspense about which gentleman will win the lady for at least the first half of the novel. This second installment in her Marrying the Duke series tells the story of Lady Charlene Blanchard, the orphaned daughter of a profligate gambler who is now living with her mother's sister, an actress and playwright. When Char's uncle stops sending money, she secretly dresses as a boy and learns to pick pockets, running afoul of a local gang of street-hardened boys in the process. Then a family friend secures an introduction to Gavin Whitridge, the Duke of Baynton, who is rumored to be looking for a wife. Char acquiesces. Her aunt wants to see Char returned to a higher station in life, but Char herself is more interested in making a good marriage so she can provide her aunt with a measure of security. When the street gang gets wind of Char's new suitor, they threaten to expose her criminal activities, and Char turns to the duke's handsome brother, Jack Whitridge, for help. Conflict between the duke and his brother makes a friendship between Char and Jack challenging, and the secrets Char is keeping from the duke expand. Maxwell's signature skill at depicting complicated family relationships is one of the novel's strongest features. Even secondary characters display unusual depth under Maxwell's deft hand. Both lively and thought-provoking, this book is well worth reading.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Marrying the Duke
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.30(d)

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Meet the 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.

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The Fairest of Them All: Marrying the Duke 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
gaele More than 1 year ago
Charlotte has everything the daughter of an Earl would need to make a successful marriage: beauty, brains, and the knowledge that an advantageous marriage is in her future. But she has debts to settle from her father’s poor money management, and making a living as a titled female is not the easiest. Using her cleverness and talents to her advantage, she’s been dressing as a boy and venturing out to pick the pockets of unsuspecting gentlemen when they are otherwise engaged. The thrill and the adrenaline rush fuel her need for extraordinary moments, but the stage has been set for her introduction and betrothal to a Duke. Gavin is a bit more than a touch uptight, now trying again to find a suitable bride. His attention has been turned to Charlotte with the knowledge that her breeding and beauty are impeccable, and she has certainly managed to catch his eye. But, a series of unexpected events, including the return of his long lost twin, Jack, from America could prove problematic. For unbeknownst to Gavin, Jack is the man who almost unmasked Charlotte as the pickpocket that targeted his friend, although he had never seen her face, the impression of the daring, bold and scandalous woman dressed as a boy has stuck with him. Maxwell has a knack for building the atmosphere in which her stories exist, allowing the reader to feel the conflict and tensions in the characters, while easily finding something to appreciate in each. Sure Charlotte is empathetic as she struggles to pay off debts that are not her own by a very unique approach. The Duke, even as rigid, proper and inflexible as he appears is worth more than a few moments of empathy with his childhood story as the weight of the position he would come to inhabit were more important than his own happiness. Then there is Jack – disappearing for years only to arrive and be exactly what Charlotte wants, despite her need to marry the title. A complete conundrum that will have you on the edge of your seat: will she choose Gavin, the Duke: the man she should marry who has already lost one prospective bride to a man without the social standing of a title? Will Jack tell what he knows about Charlotte, as he is spending more time accompanying her per his brother’s desires, as his “intended’ needs a suitable companion while he is otherwise engaged in Duke-stuff. And poor Charlotte – there really isn’t a great field of proper choices in front of her: even though the chemistry between she and Jack is off the charts, can she actually forego the possibility of a titled husband. Maxwell has added a wonderful installment to the series, one that stands alone without issue, keeping readers engaged and wondering to the last page. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Anonymous 9 months ago
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.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Loved this one too. Great characters and the poor Gavin still needs a wife. Can't wait for the next book. Love these characters and author.
Anonymous 11 months ago
I really enjoyed the story but felt that having Charlene fall in love with the brother was a reach. I think the story could have been put together differently to reach the same outcome and it would have been more enjoyable. I found myself rooting for Charlene to be with the Duke because there was such good chemistry there. The brother Jack was almost a second character. He was not a strong lead.
def618 12 months ago
Cathy Maxwell does it again. I love this book! It's so entertaining you won't want to put it down. Poor Gavin, Duke of Baynton, again loses the girl he picks to wed, notice no mention of love, to his brother. Lady Charlene is beautiful, penniless and a pickpocket. She is caught by Jack Whitridge, Gavin's twin who left England years ago. He lives in Boston and considers himself an American. He returned only to have meetings with the Brits to try and prevent a war (1812). This does involve returning to his family as he needs Gavin's help. Char and Gavin try to hide their feelings for each other as her aunt really wants her to marry the Duke. As in all good romance books, love wins out. Of course, the journey to a HEA is a lot more involved than what I've written. I think you'll enjoy reading this one. I'm definitely looking forward to the next book, "A Date at the Altar" where I hope Gavin finally gets a Duchess he loves!
Sissymae1 More than 1 year ago
I received an eARC, from NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. 'The Fairest of Them All' by Cathy Maxwell is book two in the "Marrying the Duke" series. This is the story of Lady Charlene Blanchard and Jack Whitridge. I do feel this is a standalone book. I have been enjoying this series and was so happy to get the chance to read and review this book. Charlene is having a hard time after her father gambled away everything they had and is now dead. Charlene is trying to pay off the debits and has started doing so my being a pick pocket and is caught once by Jack. Although Charlene gets away from him he turns up again. We find that he is the twin brother of the Duke that Charlene has been set up to meet and hopefully marry. I will say it was so hard for me to figure out which brother I liked better at first and was torn with who she should be with. This was another enjoyable read...loved it.
Lashea677 More than 1 year ago
What I find fascinating about Cathy Maxwell is that each time I think I have her figured out, she surprises me by going in a different direction. I received an ARC of The Fairest of Them All in exchange for an honest review. Char and Jack are the pieces to a story full of puzzles that are revealed little by little in this enigmatic read. The romance is sweet and sensual, the story is a maze of edge of your seat suspense and breathtaking yet moving events. Copyright of Night Owl Reviews
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Part 2