cover image The Fairest of Them All

The Fairest of Them All

Cathy Maxwell. Avon, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-238863-6

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)