ARC Review: Impossible by Darcy Burke

Special thanks to Zealous Quill Press for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Impossible (The Phoenix Club #6)
Publisher: Zealous Quill Press
Published: 19 April 2022
Genre: Historical Romance

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Ada Treadway has been in love before, and it brought nothing but heartache. Still, she retains her cheerful optimism and is fiercely protective of the independence and respect she’s earned as bookkeeper of the Phoenix Club. When the owner enlists her help to organize his friend’s estate ledgers, she’s eager to prove her expertise and her worth. But his friend turns out to be a disagreeable, unpleasant beast, and Ada works to find the warm-hearted gentleman she’s sure lurks beneath.

Maximillian Hunt, the Viscount Warfield doesn’t care if he lives to see tomorrow, and he certainly doesn’t want to recall yesterday. The arrival of the meddlesome and effusively positive woman who will put his accounts in order not only reminds him of the past he’s desperate to forget, she sparks something within him he thought dead. Tempted by a future he never imagined, he must do the impossible: convince her that he’s worth risking her heart a second time.

TL;DR: Overall, while this started off strong, the romance felt a little too half-baked for me to fully enjoy it. That’s not to say that I didn’t like these characters or enjoy their story because I did, and I was actually quite convinced that this was going to be a favourite in this series, so it was quite disappointing that their romance ended up being a bit unsatisfying for me. I am looking forward to the next book in the series though as we finally get McDougal’s story!

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ARC Review: The Rigid Duke by Darcy Burke

Special thanks to Zealous Quill Press for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: The Rigid Duke (Matchmaking Chronicles #1)
Publisher: Zealous Quill Press
Published: 08 March 2021
Genre: Historical Romance

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

As a refinement tutor, Mrs. Juno Langton helps young ladies develop the skills and confidence to secure an advantageous marriage. Her cheerful disposition never wavers no matter how challenging her assignment. When a house party provides an opportunity to match her difficult charge with a duke, Juno will go to any lengths to satisfy her employer and ensure the young lady’s future. Too bad the duke is an unsmiling, rigid grouch, albeit an irritatingly handsome one.

The Duke of Warrington dislikes social gatherings and despises the Marriage Mart which makes it nigh impossible to find a wife. He plans to secure his future duchess at a house party, but she’s being managed by a thoroughly meddlesome—and provocative—Mrs. Langton, who is determined to find his better nature. He’ll do anything to avoid her sunny charm and room-brightening smiles, but she’s breaking through his shell and the only way he can think to keep her quiet is to kiss her. He must marry the young lady, not desire the companion.

But now he’s rethinking his wife choices.

TL;DR: I’ve come to really enjoy Darcy Burke’s books ever since discovering her historical romances last year and The Rigid Duke was no different. It was an enjoyable grumpy/sunshine romance that’s slightly more sex than plot but was a quick and entertaining read that delivers a sweet HEA!

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ARC Review: Intolerable by Darcy Burke

Special thanks to Zealous Quill Press for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Intolerable (The Phoenix Club #3)
Publisher: Zealous Quill Press
Published: 19 October 2021
Genre: Historical/Regency Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Every three years, like clockwork, Ruark Hannigan, Earl of Wexford loses his heart. Alas, he promised his father he wouldn’t marry until the age of thirty so that he’d be certain in his choice. When his best friend’s sister needs him to pose as a potential suitor to garner attention on the Marriage Mart, he’s the perfect candidate—if only he hadn’t kissed her in secret.

Lady Cassandra Westbrook can’t forget the incident between her and Wexford, and she’s having a devil of a time focusing on finding a husband. The fact that her father intimidates every gentleman has made her quest intolerable, and her two brothers who could help are proving completely worthless. But if she doesn’t settle on someone, her father will arrange an “acceptable” marriage by the end of the Season.

Finally, Cassandra has a chance at courtship, but, frustratingly, it’s not with the impulsive and irresistible Irishman her father detests and she desires. However, when Ruark sees the woman he passionately wants—despite his better judgment—swept into the arms of another man, the prospect of losing her becomes intolerable.

TL;DR: Intolerable was another very enjoyable addition to the Phoenix Club series! I was excited for Cass and Ruark’s story after we see a brief interaction between them in the previous book and I wasn’t disappointed by this forbidden older brother’s best friend romance! 😍 This was a sweet (although sometimes frustrating) love story between two tender-hearted characters. There was cheeky banter, sizzling chemistry and side characters you will also come to love!

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ARC Review: Impassioned by Darcy Burke

Special thanks to NetGalley and Zealous Quill Press for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: Impassioned (The Phoenix Club #2)
Publisher: Zealous Quill Press
Publish Date: 24 August 2021
Genre: Historical Regency Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

In nearly two years of marriage, Sabrina Westbrook has barely spoken to her husband and shared a bed even less. Both activities would require they actually live together. As it is, the Earl of Aldington attends to his seat in the House of Commons, while she and her crippling social anxiety tend to his country house and gardens.

Their arrangement is quite civilized, and their letters are painfully polite. Their twice-yearly visits are…awkward. But, if Sabrina can muster the necessary courage, all of that is about to change. Starting tonight.

Heir to a dukedom, Constantine Westbrook knows his duty: to country, to family, and to the shy, retiring wife whose beauty stole his breath the moment they met. Whose arousing, enticing body he’s never seen in the light of day. Or any light at all.

However, there’s something different about the woman who shows up in London unannounced. For the first time in their marriage, Sabrina has a request. No, a demand. But wanting and having are two different things. And to give Sabrina her heart’s desire, they’ll both need a few lessons in love…


Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.

TL;DR: Despite this book relying on tropes I’m not overly fond of in romance (miscommunication and deception), I found myself liking the characters enough that I wanted to get to their HEA. I enjoyed seeing Sabrina and Constantine deal with their insecurities and issues that stemmed from their upbringing and troubled family relationships. I loved seeing them come out of their shells, stand up to their bullies and find confidence to pursue their wants outside of society’s expectations. The sexual tension between these two was also surprisingly steamy and it was built up in a nice slow burn fashion, complete with swoon-worthy courting, too!

It’s been a while since I read a Darcy Burke romance but it was nice to come back to her regency romance world. I enjoy her writing and the era comes alive through her descriptions and the words/phrases from this period. It feels authentic, although I can’t really comment so much on the accuracy of it, just that it feels realistic to me.

This one had a bit of a rough start and our H/H took a while to understand the real problem between them and their arranged marriage (hint: it wasn’t sex). This does lean heavily on the miscommunication trope, plus there’s also a fair bit of deception that lasts until the conflict at the end, so if these are two things you don’t like in romance, this book might not be for you. While I normally also don’t like these tropes, and they did frustrate me when I was reading, I liked both characters enough to want to continue and see them get their HEA.

Sabrina and Constantine each have their own issues to overcome that stem from their upbringing and troubled family relationships. Sabrina suffers from extreme social anxiety and that isn’t helped by her horrible parents who belittle and demean her and treat her anxiety as a joke, which causes her to retreat into herself and become a ‘wallflower‘. Constantine has been raised to be the perfectly rational, unfeeling and coldhearted Duke by his father who is more of a domineering dictator rather than a parent, and who expects his favourite son to be just like him. These personal issues have led to misunderstandings and constant miscommunication between our H/H, but both want desperately to change that and as they break down the walls in their marriage, they also learn to stand up for what they want. I enjoyed seeing them break out of their shells, find their voices and finally stand up to their bullies, though I wish we did get more details specifically about how Sabrina overcame her anxiety. It felt overly simplistic as if she decided to get over it and that was that; however, it wasn’t a “magic cure” whereby the end she didn’t feel anxiety at all because she continued to suffer from her nerves, she just got better at managing it.

There’s also a delicious tension that builds up between these two. What starts out as Sabrina boldly demanding her marital rights to get with a child, turns into a tentative and swoon-worthy courting between husband and wife, and it’s not only very sweet but also delightfully steamy—the sexual tension developed so nicely and it’s well worth the slow(ish) burn when they finally give in to their desires and get together! That said, I wish it didn’t take them so long to realise that lies and miscommunication were what made their relationship so awful in the first place and that the deception they participated in to get to their marriage on more stable ground didn’t aid in that. But you can say the journey to get there was definitely sexy and fun! 😉

Overall, despite the use of tropes I’m not very fond of, I liked our H/H and I’m glad I read this book! I’m definitely excited for the next book in the Phoenix Club series, but I’ll also go back and read the first one, too.

Have you read Impassioned or is it on your TBR?

ARC Review: A Scandalous Bargain by Darcy Burke

Thanks to NetGalley and Darcy Burke Publishing for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A Scandalous Bargain (The Pretenders #2)
Publisher: Darcy Burke Publishing
Publication Date: 10 November 2020
Genre: Historical Romance
Panda Rating:

Tricked into marriage five years ago, Thomas Devereaux, Lord Rockbourne is suddenly a widower. Rumors abound that his wife’s death may not have been an accident and given the troubling secrets Thomas keeps buried, even he isn’t entirely sure. But when a woman sees what happened, he agrees to accept her help to disguise the facts in exchange for not divulging her suspicious behavior. Their arrangement grows more complicated under the force of a scorching mutual attraction.

Abandoned by her father—a duke—after the death of her mother—his beloved mistress—Beatrix Linley has fought to become a daughter he could be proud of, that he would regret leaving. She becomes the toast of the Season until her penchant for pilfering pretty things threatens to expose the illicit past she needs desperately to remain hidden. Soon the scandal and darkness both Beatrix and Thomas fear comes to light, compelling them to finally face their demons—and potentially driving them apart forever

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