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 . . .
Rating: Narration – A; Content – C-
I’m going to confess upfront that the only reason I chose to listen to this second book in Cathy Maxwell’sMarrying the Duke series, The Fairest of Them All, is because Mary Jane Wells is the narrator. I was singularly underwhelmed by the first book, The Match of the Century, which was where we first met Gavin Whitridge, the Duke of Baynton. That book tells the story of Gavin’s younger brother, Benedict, and Elin Morris, the young lady to whom Gavin had been betrothed for a number of years. Ben and Elin had been young lovers who were torn asunder when their fathers discovered them, and the book tells the story of their finding their way back to each other.
Although he genuinely cared for Elin, Gavin clearly saw that she and Ben were meant for one another and graciously stepped aside. But he is still in the market for a wife, and in the manner of handsome princes everywhere, holds a ball to which all the eligible young ladies of the ton are invited. He is instantly captivated by the most beautiful young woman he has ever seen, Lady Charlene Blanchard, the daughter of an earl who gambled away everything he owned and then took his own life, leaving his wife and daughter practically destitute. Even so, Charlene is lovely, demure, poised and everything Gavin is looking for in a duchess. He quickly secures her hand for the first dance, but things don’t get that far because the ball is suddenly interrupted by a group of American gentlemen, one of whom turns out to be Gavin’s long-lost twin brother, Jack, who disappeared from Eton when they were fifteen and from whom nothing has been heard for the last seventeen years.
You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.