This review may contain spoilers, so fair warning, upon reading the review.
About The Book
From the spellbinding pen of nationally bestselling author Teresa Medeiros comes this enchanting new romance—a tale of adventure, humor, and tender sensuality that sweeps from the pageantry of an English jousting tournament to the brooding mystery of an isolated castle in Wales…
Fairest of Them All
She was rumored to be the fairest woman in all of England. But Holly de Chastel considered her beauty a curse. She had already turned away scores of suitors with various ruses, both fair and foul. Now she was to be the prize in a tournament of eager knights gathering from across the land, each more determined than the last to win her hand. Holly had no intention of wedding any of them, and concocted her most outrageous plan yet: to disguise her beauty from their avaricious eyes. But she never planned on Sir Austyn of Gavenmore.
The darkly handsome Welshman had come looking especially for a plain bride, and Holly seemed to fit the bill. Suddenly she found herself in the possession of this mysterious stranger, ensconced in his castle, and forced to keep up her carefully planned illusion. Why did this electrifyingly passionate male, who could have any woman he wanted, desire a homely bride—and what would happen when he learned he’d been tricked? By the time Holly found out, it was too late to avoid the searing fires of passion—and the dark curse of Gavenmore.
You’re enough to tempt me to trust my heart to a woman’s care
Fairest Of Them All was simply a delightful bonkers of a medieval historical and I had such a fun time with this. Now I will say that it is a prime novel of its time, it was written back in the mid-’90s, so keep that in mind when reading this one. I think part of the reason I enjoyed this one is I didn’t look at this story with modern age glasses, I put on my objective cap and I do think that it contributed to it but I do think modern readers could enjoy this one. I really think you need to look at this book as what it is and its not going to be a story that you are used to. It has flowery writing, but it is highly engaging and I really enjoyed the way the plot was developed. It turned out so different than what I expected and it had a “Snow White” theme of a retelling to it. Not a straight-up retelling, but some similarities to the fairy tale. I really had a fun time seeing how this book was developed. Now if you have read any of the other books in this series, then this one will definitely work for you.
Holly de Chastel has always been viewed and fought over her physical appearance and she has always viewed her beauty to be more of a curse than a blessing. She has no desire to become a man’s wife, and her father is determined to marry her off, but every suitor which comes her way she drives off with her shenanigans. She has yet to find a man that she would want to be a wife to. When her father takes a final plunge, to have suitors come and fight in a joust over her hand in marriage, the last thing she expected is to have the most handsome of the males, and the most feared, a Welsh fighter Sir Austyn of Gavenmore, Holly and Austyn had shared one feisty interlude not knowing who the other was. But on the day of the joust, Holly makes adjustments to her appearance to make her look like a plain and undesirable woman. But much to her dismay, Holly’s new appearance is exactly what Austyn is looking for in a wife. His family has been cursed with love and devastation, and after his mother had affairs and was killed in his father’s rage of her illicit affairs, he is determined not to be next in line with that curse that has been passed down the generation. He won’t have to worry about Holly bring other men in their bed. When Austyn wins the joust, Holly has no choice but to marry this man who doesn’t seem disturbed by her appearance. But Holly knows eventually he will find out the truth and when he does will the love she has for him be enough or will the betrayal be the end of them both?
Had there been even a hint of brutality in his attentions, Holly might have brought herself to hate him, but his accomplished hands cherished her flesh as if it were his own private altar. She’d never known such unbridled ecstasy. Or such misery.
What I Loved
Fairest of Them All was such a good read and honestly once I had adjusted to this writing style and the old-school way of style of angst, I truly became hooked on this story and it was such a page-turner. I just couldn’t put this one down and I was so pleased to have a historical that is a more old school that just hooked me in so completely. It also was so refreshing from all the regency/victorian era books I have been reading so much of late. I felt like Teresa Medeiros did such a remarkable job with this story. I actually really loved the angst which builds between this pairing. I also couldn’t help but just be stunned by the beauty of this read and despite its flaws just worked for me in so many ways. I loved the way the setting was built up and I really felt like I could feel the emotions between our pair. There is quite a bit to go into this one here. I first want to say that the hero was so fantastic. I love that despite her looks, he just wants Holly and he starts to see the beauty in her that comes from the inner part of her. And while he definitely makes his share of mistakes, he is so tormented by the history of his family and wants to make sure that it doesn’t happen to him as it has happened to his parents and grandparents. Our heroine definitely has her own flair of drama and spirit but you can see that she wants to be seen as a person and not just a possession. To be seen as more than just a token of beauty. She has spirit and courage and when she falls in love with Austyn, she loves him completely. The ending of this one was so perfect and really lifted up my rating because it definitely left me feeling content and happy.
An emotion both tender and tremulous, yet possessed of the power to topple kingdoms and tempt a man to risk his soul for just one night to savor its priceless wonders
What I Struggled With
There were some aspects to this story that I really struggled with. The first being the way that the hero treats the hero at times. Now while he doesn’t ever abuse her, his actions could be a struggle for some readers. He does get a bit alpha on our heroine. Also our heroine I really struggled with especially in the first half. It was never really explained why she was hateful towards men or even marriage. She could act like a spoiled brat at times and I didn’t like how deceitful she could be throughout the book. (although once we got to the second half I had no issues with her)
Fairest Of Them All was such a magnificent read of a romance. A medieval set historical that will deliver in its vibrant setting, passionate set characters, and some hurdles to battles before reaching our happily ever after guaranteed to make its reader sigh in pleasure and satisfaction.
Title: Fairest Of Them All
Author: Teresa Medeiros
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 371 Pages
Storytelling Quality: 4
Story Itself: 3.75
Character Development: 3.5
Writing Style: 3.75
World Building 4
Feels + The Romantic Heart 3.5
Cover Art 4
Overall Rating of the Book
Simmering—soft warm touches and light intimacy
Warm- a medium level of sexual tension, a balance of sexual and emotional intimacy, lighter on the details in the sexual moments.
Steamin’ up the room -the sexual content is more explicit in the language and tone, heavier amount of sexual scenes.
Blazing fire to the building-The prime focus is the sex scenes, scorching hot, and could burn one. Less focus on the emotional intimacy to the relationship.
Once Upon A Time
Charming The Prince-Pub 1999 #1 in the Series
The Bride and the Beast-Pub 2001 #2 in the Series
A Kiss to Remember-Pub 2002 #3 in the Series
Fairest of Them All-Pub 1995 #4 in the Series
About The Author
New York Times bestseller Teresa Medeiros wrote her first novel at the age of twenty-one and has since gone on to win the hearts of both readers and critics. All of her books have been national bestsellers, featured on the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. She currently has over 10 million books in print.
She is a seven-time Rita finalist, two-time PRISM winner, and two-time recipient of the Waldenbooks Award for bestselling fiction.