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Fairest of Them All Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 1995

4.1 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews
Book 4 of 3 in the Once Upon A Time Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Medeiros (A Whisper of Roses) pens the ultimate romantic fantasy: a beautiful woman falls in love with a handsome man and they live happily ever after. The challenge is to give the old theme a new twist, and that Medeiros does with a bang. Holly de Chastel, the fairest woman in England, considers her beauty a curse. So far, Holly's trickery and deceit have scared off her suitors, but her father has come up with a foolproof plan to get her wed: a tournament in which the best man wins Holly. Medeiros's already humorous tone turns hilarious when Holly shows herself to the retinue of brave knights?but in disguise as an ugly hag. Only two accept the challenge, and her hand is won by Sir Austyn of Gavenmore, who needs Holly's dowry to restore his home and his honor. He learns to love Holly for her inner beauty, but love is forgotten when Holly's secret is revealed. "Let beauty be your doom" was the curse the faerie queen put upon one of Sir Austyn's ancestors, and every Gavenmore man since has been doomed by beauty. This "happily ever after" is a hard-won battle, but one romantics will relish.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Spoiled, headstrong Holly de Chastel views her legendary beauty as a curse. Her father has brought scores of suitors before her, and Holly has chased off every one. Finally, the Duke feels pushed to the edge. In a fit of exasperation, he decides to hold a jousting tournament, with Holly's hand in marriage as the prize. The news travels quickly, and as befitting such a famous beauty, the castle is soon packed to the rafters with knights seeking to win the fair maiden. Only most of them scuttle out of the courtyard at their first sight of Holly. The rumors of her beauty have been some kind of cruel joke. The woman who appears before the assemblage is ugly, horribly ugly. With the assistance of her maid, Holly has hacked off her hair, stained her teeth a filthy brown, and padded her clothing to create a body that's lumpy in all the wrong places. Ugly suits Sir Austyn of Gavenmore, and the towering Welshman joins the tournament in earnest. He's not interested in winning a beauty, indeed he plans to stay as far away from beautiful women as he can. He knows he's doomed by The Gavenmore Curse. All of the men in his family have married beautiful women, and all have mistreated and murdered their wives in fits of jealous rage. Austyn has no intention of fulfilling his birthright. What he does need is money to refurbish his crumbling castle, and the fair Holly has a substantial dowry. Of course once he lays eyes on her, Austyn understands the necessity of such a large purse. A fearsome warrior, Austyn wins the tournament and starts off for Wales with his new bride. As they travel across England, Holly and Austyn come to care for each other. Holly itches to reveal her true self to her new husband, but she soon learns of the curse, and Austyn's determination to stay far away from beautiful women. Somehow, someday Holly knows he will have to learn the truth. She only hopes he can learn to love her anyway.Clever and well told. Ms. Medeiros creates real, three dimensional characters. Fast-paced and sensual. An intriguing story wrapped in rich historical detail.Annette Carney -- Copyright © 1994-97 Literary Times, Inc. All rights reserved -- From Literary Times

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Fanfare; First Edition edition (May 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553563335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553563337
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #913,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I bought two Teresa Medeiros books-- this one and 'The Bride and the Beast'. I read 'Bride' first, then this one, and was left with the conclusion that I may as well have just saved my money and read 'Bride' twice, since the plotlines of both were so similar! How many times can Ms Medeiros use these same twists in her stories-- the mad father, the woman locked in the tower, the man being a beast, etc.-- before she grows weary of recycling the same tired old plots? Don't get me wrong, Ms Medeiros is not a bad author. Sometimes her writing really grabs me, and several times I've caught myself laughing out loud at her witty japes. But there's not enough of this sparkling gold to outshine the dross and repitition, and I was left with that same feeling I experienced upon watching the first series of '24' on tv-- you know the one, when you wonder just how many times per episode the wife and daughter can get kidnapped! If Ms Medeiros can come up with some original plotlines (and stop using the word 'twas so often, which really got on my nerves by the thousandth repitition)and use a little more realism (you have to suspend logic rather too often whilst reading her books)then I think she'll be a really good writer. Until then, though, I wouldn't recommend her work very highly, unless you're really bored, or you fear change and enjoy the claustrophobic comfort of things always staying the same! More specifically, though, I wouldn't recommend her books if you have a problem with Stockholm Syndrome being used as a plot point, because it seems that the more the gals in Ms Medeiros's books get locked up and treated horribly, the more they fall in love with their men. This author seems very fond of the 'treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen' theory. If you find battered wives romantic, then this is for you!Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
When the fairest woman in the land is tired of being seen as only a bauble to be had by others and finds her father is just as frustrated due to her constand refusals for marriage offerings what happens... Well this fun and light hearted book by TM. When Holly is offered up as the prize (her wedding) for a tournament she decided that what she needs to do is make herselt the most ugly woman she can. With all of the lies she has told her suitors about why they don't want to marry her coming together in one vision the suitors run like flies. All except for one... Sir Austyn who does not want a beautiful bride as he is afraid he will kill her (due to the Gravenmore curse) he is actually looking for someone who is a wreck but kind hearted. Well he falls for Holly (though he calls her Ivy). How will she ever keep up the "ugly" appearance as time goes by? Well you will have to read the story to find out. As usual TM does a nice job developing the characters on this one. I didn't give it 5 stars due to the harsh scenes when she is locked in the tower, I found them out of character and kind of mean hearted for Austyn.... But, overall a real good read!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I really thought this book to be a five star at the beginning maybe 10. I love the humor and the slow trust and love that grows between the couple. They see past the physical beauty. Very well written. I love that the heroine tries to learn to cook and clean for the hero. She burned like everything but it was the thought that counts. I love how the hero starts to fall for her and thinks she is so adorable because of who she is.

After all that trust and true love build up that I get from the beginning. The author drops me off a steep cliff. I started to despise the hero after he drags her half naked over the field for people to see. Then locks her up in the tower not for one day but several days claiming its to protect her from him. The wife actually forgives him. I could barely continue the story after that. I strive to finish this book just to see if it redeem itself. Sigh.... not really enough for me enough though it is a happy ending.
I am sorry but no matter how in love you are with your wife. I cannot forgive the him for locking her up like that. He could have sent her home. That would have made sense. That I would accept. But he wanted to possess her after seeing her true form. The sex scene in the lock tower was disgusting to me. All I saw afterwards was he only saw her for her physical beauty. He condemned her for being beautiful. Yes she lied to him. But he only married her for her money at the beginning anyway. If he truly loved her for her inner beauty like the story was building up for us to believe he wouldn't have locked her up. He wouldn't have mistreated her. He wouldn't have believed those stupid curses. He would have believed in her. I believe that love does conquers all but this story did not show that to me.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I enjoyed this book immensely. Holly a beauty refuses marriage proposals from countless suitors. Her father decides to host a tournament where the bravest and strongest will have her for his bride. Holly, together with her nurse, concocts a scheme to make her completely undesirable. After her father introduces her to the crowd, many would be fighters leave and only two are willing to fight for her. Austyn of Gavenmore and Euguene 'something' (This guy's a jerk. Therefore, I didn't bother to remember his name) Austyn feels beautiful women are a curse to Gavenmore men so he doesn't care that she is ugly. He is interested in the large dowry that comes with her to restore his castle and pay back debt created by his ancestors. I'm not giving anything away here when I say he wins, that is obvious. She decides to continue hiding her beauty hoping he will leave her alone as she has heard terrible things about the consummation of the marriage. A woman with outer beauty (albeit hidden) attempts to win her man's love via inner beauty, her heart. It is a wonderful story. The ending is much better than I had hoped for.
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