Improper by Darcy Burke

Improper (The Phoenix Club #1)Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Phoenix Club #1
Publication Date: 5/25/21
Period: Regency – 1815
Number of Pages: 326

Burke very nicely set up the premise for this series in the prequel (Invitation). There, we met the principal players as well as the reason behind the club, how it works, and why it is so very exclusive. In this lovely, well-plotted, witty and well-delivered book, we reacquaint ourselves with Tobias Powell who is now the Earl of Overton since his father died almost three months ago, and we meet his new ward Miss Fiona Wingate. There are some interesting and very likable secondary characters that I very much enjoyed and I’m sure we’ll meet several of them in future books. One I particularly liked was Lady Cassandra because she was always Fiona’s partner in crime – actually, she was the instigator more often than not. I also loved Prudence Lancaster and can’t wait to learn more about her. I thoroughly enjoyed Mrs. Tucket – she was definitely an anomaly, but she was entertaining. Actually, the whole book was filled with little moments of humor that I enjoyed very much.

When Tobias’s very unloving and unkind father died, he left Tobias in a very untenable position. Tobias must marry within ninety days of the old earl’s death or forfeit the one thing that is nearest and dearest to his heart. It was really the only hurt that the old man could give after his death because it was the only unentailed item in the earldom. For the last couple of years, Tobias’s reputation has been much less than stellar, and now he needs to repair it as best he can and manage to find a lady who is willing to marry within just a few weeks. If you add having to prepare for a new ward and seeing to the requirements for her season, Tobias is taxed to the limit. He fully hopes to marry his ward off right away and be done with her so he can concentrate with his own needs – after all, she has a very sizable dowry.

Fiona was raised in a small cottage on her cousin’s property in a very small Shropshire village. She had no friends – hardly any acquaintances either. Her father was a cool and aloof academic her ignored her and her mother has been gone for a long time. The only constant person in her life is Mrs. Tucket, their maid-of-all-work. Fiona knows how lucky she is to be the ward of an earl and to be having a season in London. She’s puzzled about how that came to be, but she’s very grateful. Fiona is one of the most naïve, Pollyannaish people you will ever meet on the page. She has absolutely no clue about anything in society and is thrown in headfirst when she arrives. She is so filled with excitement and enthusiasm that it is hard to contain it – and – well – she doesn’t usually manage to do so. She doesn’t mean to cause trouble for Tobias – she likes him – very much – but he keeps trying to contain her and that is very much like herding cats.

If you are looking for a fun, witty, well-presented story, this might be the one for you. I enjoyed watching Tobias and Fiona come to terms with each other and finding their HEA. I loved both characters and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them. Then, there is Mrs. Tucket – a maid-of-all-work for all of her life. But now, she is a suitable companion for Fiona, she is given a lovely guest room in an earl’s home and is treated as an equal with everyone in the home. She is fully capable of speaking and acting like a lady and is totally comfortable in speaking with a countess or any other titled person. I am quite sure none of that would have happened in reality. I actually loved Mrs. Tucket, but she was just totally period incorrect.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Avid reader/reviewer of historical romance and historical mysteries.

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