A Date at the Altar by Cathy MaxwellA Date at the Altar by Cathy Maxwell
Series: Marrying the Duke #3
Published by Avon on October 25, 2016
Genres: Historical Romance, Victorian Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Advance Reader Copy
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New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell’s glittering Marrying the Duke series continues—Twice he has been close to the altar and still no duchess.

Will the third time be the charm? A duke can’t marry just anyone. His wife must be of good family, be fertile, be young. Struggling playwright Sarah Pettijohn is absolutely the last woman Gavin Whitridge, Duke of Baynton, would ever fall in love with.

She is an actress, born on the wrong side of the blanket, and always challenges his ducal authority. She never hesitates to tell him what she thinks.

However, there is something about her that stirs his blood  . . . which makes her perfect for a bargain he has in mind: In exchange for backing her play, he wants Sarah to teach him about love.

And he, in turn, has a few things to teach her about men  . . .

***Some Spoilers***

This is the third book in Cathy Maxwell’s Marrying the Duke trilogy, and it can be read as a stand alone. You’ll see mentions of the previous 2 books, and from what I gathered, the previous 2 books were about this hero’s previous 2 fiancees. It seems that the Duke of Baynton can’t keep a fiancee. They keep running off with other men (one of whom is his twin brother)! So this is finally his moment.

When I first read the beginning, I found out he was a virgin and that our heroine was a playwright…A virgin hero and a duke at that?! A 34 year old heroine who’s also a playwright? I’m in!

But as with the previous books I’ve read by this author, I just felt meh.

Sarah Pettijohn is a struggling playwright who is doing one performance as the Siren. Only one. A decade before, she had done one performance and was an instant sensation. However, she didn’t want to be known as an actress who sings practically nude. She wants to be a playwright. Well, her dream will come to fruition if she does this one night as the Siren. But, there’s one guy in the audience, Rovington, who basically puts a bounty on her head. He has bets going that he can bed the Siren, and if he doesn’t, it’ll bankrupt him.

He’s got the potential to be an amazing villain, but he’s used poorly and often only in the background.

The blurb and the title are slightly misleading as well. The title implies that a wedding will feature more heavily than it does. The blurb makes it sound like their bargain is different than it is.

This book left a lot unsaid-the engagement to Leonie, a debutante the duke was supposed to marry. His mother basically got them engaged, and all of Society knew of it. Yet, what, the reader is supposed to forget about her? Then most especially, we have Rovington. He’s been the bad guy from the first page. He has shown he won’t slink quietly into the night. But they just let him go. Again. And of course, the missing theatre owners! What ever happened with that? Gavin was supposed to find them for her as part of their bargain, but they are never even brought up again! Ridiculous!


This book tries to be too many things. The writing isn’t good enough to carry off angst, yet she has heavy themes that needed it. She tries to be light, but she’s not funny. And she tries to be feminist, which I felt was all undone at the end. The fact that after they married, Sarah stops writing. She sometimes writes, but really just dreamed of babies. This almost insulting especially coming from a romance writer. She can absolutely do both. Why would she stop writing plays just because she fulfilled her dream of producing a play? Is that dream done? She no longer wants to write? That made no sense to me with how driven she had been her whole life.

I don’t know, guys. I think I’ll have to admit that this author isn’t for me. She tends to have interesting beginnings, boring and tedious middles, and rushed endings.

***ARC courtesy of Avon Books