Impassioned by Darcy Burke

Barbara’s Rating:  5 of 5 Stars

Series: The Phoenix Club #2

Publication Date: 8/24/21

Period:  Regency London – 1815

Goodness Gracious Me!  We met Constantine Westbrook, heir to the Duke of Evesham, in the prequel (Invitation), and the first book of the series (Improper).  I don’t know about you, but I sure didn’t like him very well.  He was cold, unyielding, passionless, uptight, and, as his brother Lucien says, has a ‘stick up his xxx’.  How could a curmudgeon like that become the male romantic lead in a romance novel?  I knew this author would turn things around and make us love him – and she surely did.  You won’t be far into the book before you realize people aren’t always the face they present to the world – and – you’ll quickly come to love Con.

Sabrina Westbrook has been married to the cold and aloof Constantine Westbrook for almost two years now – and she’s had enough.  He is cold and passionless, but part of the fault for their distant civility is her own.  They were definitely NOT a love match and Sabrina wanted to call it off, but her parents wouldn’t allow her to do so and the duke wouldn’t hear of it either.  It wasn’t that she had anything against Con, she just didn’t want to marry anyone.  Sabrina has a debilitating anxiety disorder and couldn’t function in crowds or with strangers.  How in the world was she going to manage a wedding night and marriage with a perfect stranger?  Well, the bottom line is that she didn’t – things went downhill fast.  Her anxiety caused Con to have anxiety and well … things just didn’t go well.  So now, he visits twice a year and their joining is perfunctory and hurried.

Having had enough of the state of their marriage, Sabrina fights down her anxieties and makes the trip to London to demand her marital rights.  She’ll demand he come to her bed every night until she is with child.  She doesn’t care how horrid the act is, she’ll endure because she very much wants a child.  She has no idea a woman can also enjoy ‘the act’ until a friend shares that information and gives her a book with instructions on how to enjoy it on her own.  WOW!  What a revelation.  She has to wonder if maybe Con hasn’t shared the pleasure with her because he doesn’t really want her and is strictly performing a duty.

Con very much wants to improve the state of his marriage.  He desires his wife and thinks she is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, but he has no idea how to cope with her fears.  When she cringes away from him, it wounds him.  Since he has no idea how to make things better, he just tends to avoid her.

Con and Sabrina start, very tentatively, to see if they cannot heal their marriage.  Neither understands the issues for the other – and they never talk about it.  Well – they manage – in spite of the meddling of friends and family – and the end result is a delightful romance with a truly remarkable couple.  It was a wonderful experience to see both of them grow, learn to trust, and learn to love. 

I loved Con and Sabrina’s story and I cannot wait for the next book because it features Cassandra (Con and Lucien’s sister) and Lucien’s best friend, Ruark.  I just know it is going to be a wonderful read because while Ruark is Lucien’s best friend, Lucien doesn’t think he is husband material for his sister.  Uh Oh!  The events in this book overlapped events in the first book – and events in the next book – Intolerable – will overlap with events in this book. 

As always, the book is well-written, well-plotted, and excellently delivered.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.  BTW – the very short prequel I mentioned above – is FREE on Amazon – so why not read it to see how the Phoenix Club came to be formed, the reasons behind it, and the group of friends who are involved.

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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