Title: Duke of Desire
Author: Darcy Burke
Series: Untouchables #4
Genre: Regency Romance
Available: 28th March
Ten years ago Ivy Breckenridge’s life was ruined. She had to reinvent herself, and now, after painstakingly making her own way in the world, she’s nearly forgotten the dreams of home and family she’d once nurtured. Until one man peers into her soul and awakens every one of her hidden desires. But no matter how good he makes her feel, she can’t trust him—alone by choice is better than alone by necessity.
With a notorious reputation for training married women in the art of passion, Sebastian Westgate, Duke of Clare, is reviled by some and celebrated by others. He doesn’t allow anyone close enough to see past his charming exterior. When Ivy uncovers the man beneath, the seducer is suddenly the seduced. Enraptured by her mind and spirit, he wants more but revealing his darkest secrets is a price he won’t pay.
Source: ARC from the author via NetGalley
I found this a thoroughly enjoyable, sumptuous Regency read with a strong-willed heroine and a surprisingly caring hero (considering his reputation). Neither are quite what they seem and I loved the slow, steady way in which they transformed each other as the book progressed. It’s a slow and delicious seduction that drew me in right from the start.
Ivy has no intentions of ever marrying, and she has excellent reasons for this. She may seem cold to some, unimportant to many, but she’s worked hard to turn herself into the perfect, boring lady’s companion, despite her beauty. But as has been shown in the previous books in this series, she’s also capable of great loyalty and there is far more to her than the facade she presents.
I liked her. She’s strong and intelligent, more repressed than cold. Her past is terrible in many ways, but the way in which she rebuilt her life was admirable. I really wanted her to find happiness, even when I wasn’t certain how she possibly could. This did leave me feeling like a few things were brushed aside a little too swiftly towards the end, but I mostly didn’t mind too much.
Because West was worth it. He is certainly a curious character, a rake with a reputation for sleeping with married women – and it’s not a lie. Which makes a change. Yet he’s not a cad, he’s almost a Regency sex therapist. I’m not entirely convinced about the believability of his helpful nature and how grateful everyone apparently is afterwards, but it was certainly different. And it let him be a sexy rogue without being an actual reprobate, so that was good.
I liked how he saw past Ivy’s walls and coaxed her out, pushing her up to a certain point but never taking things too far. He has his own issues with his past – mostly his mother – but his heroic rescuer streak made up for any of his less good qualities. And then there was that walk… *swoon* He’s an amazingly supportive hero, making him an excellent match for Ivy’s more independent qualities. I loved the two of them together.
The tale is mostly split between a country house party and the social interactions of Bath, across the autumn (not fall!), complete with an array of interesting entertainments and activities to keep things interesting. And although couples from earlier books in this series do make some appearances, it stands alone well enough, while hinting at the next few heroes yet to come.
Overall, I really enjoyed this. The story is romantic, the characters are likeable and have wonderful chemistry and seemed perfect for each other, all wrapped up in a lovely Regency setting. I think this was possibly my favourite Darcy Burke book yet – I can’t wait to read the next one.
Duke of Desire is out 28th March.
Visit Darcy Burke for more details.