I got a copy of this book from NetGalley for review. The two things that intrigued me from the beginning were the plot description and the genre. I am fascinated by historical stories of any kind so this is right in my wheelhouse. Improper by Darcy Burke is a historical romance that follows the Earl of Overton, Tobias Powell, and his ward Fiona Wingate.
Tobias’s father has passed away and according to his will, Tobias has six weeks to get married in order to keep his mother’s home that he treasures. Fiona is under the guardianship of Tobias’s father but after his death, Tobias becomes her guardian. Fiona has never really experienced any freedom in her life. When she is invited to London by Tobias, she is excited to explore new avenues. She is not interested in getting married but realizes she might not have any other choice.
When Tobias and Fiona are brought under the same roof, sparks start flying, but he is her guardian and any romantic relationship between them is improper. Tobias has a reputation for being a rake and a scoundrel. He is trying to change and prove to everyone that he isn’t like that anymore so he can find a suitable bride. The story takes place in this timeline of six weeks that is defined in the will.
The story manages to keep you hooked from the beginning. Although the pace takes off as the story moves ahead. I loved the dynamic between Tobias and Fiona from the beginning. They start off almost as friends and go on to become more. Tobias is accommodating of Fiona and her wishes. He tries to make her as comfortable as he possibly can. She is curious about maps, he gets her more books and later a piano. She is not used to someone caring for her and taking her side. Tobias enjoys her company. He likes that she is curious about things, has her own mind and opinions, and stands up for herself. Both f them notice the spark between them but do not want to accept it.
Tobias is a part of a secret club, The Phoenix Club. He is a committee member of this exclusive club along with his other friends. The intrigue of the club in their society is what brings Tobias and Fiona close in the story. The characters are well written. Fiona is smart and knows what she wants, yet she is realistic and mature for her age. She craves independence, but considering the times, she knows she will have to get married soon. In a way, she finds that independence with Tobias. She becomes fond of him quickly but keeps pushing away any romantic inclinations.
Tobias never really seems to live up to his reputation. Later, he expresses to Fiona how he started behaving a certain way because that’s what his father used to think of him anyways. He is liberal in his outlook and perspective about people. He is such a romantic at heart. Even with the deadline, he hopes to marry for love. He realizes quickly, that he is attracted to Fiona but keeps his distance. Both Tobias and Fiona have seen their parents in unhappy marriages that is not what they want for themselves. This is the reason for Fiona’s reluctance and Tobias’s too for me.
The romance between Fiona and Tobias builds up slowly. For the first half of the story, you can see the chemistry and tension between them. There are romantic moments and stolen glances, but they keep it platonic. The first kiss they share blows away all the reservations they have about each other. It still takes time for them to accept that they have fallen in love. The way they fall in love is so realistic; it begins naturally. I loved their romance, their chemistry, and even their conversations. There is drama in the relationship, but they communicate well with each other from the start. I felt that they dealt with things very maturely. Their concerns or reactions to situations happen organically within the story. They were great together; it was so satisfying as a reader when they finally end up together.
Improper is the first book by Darcy Burke that I have read. Once I started reading it, I had a hard time putting it down. I finished the book over the weekend. The pace of the story is good, the writing is engaging, and the story and the characters are simple yet amazing. This historical romance kept me hooked from start to finish. I loved reading this book.
*Click on the book cover above to get a copy.