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
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!
Cass was such a wonderful character and probably my favourite Burke heroine to date! She’s compassionate, smart and strong-willed and I loved seeing how her relationships with her family and with Ruark evolved. My heart kind of broke for her as she admitted her fears of being introduced to society without her mother, plus she had a lonely upbringing with a father changed by mourning and two distant older brothers. I loved that she stood up for herself, especially with them, and proved her strength. As much as I loved seeing the brothers try to atone and be part of her life again, I would’ve loved to see even more of the changed sibling dynamic, though I suppose we’ll get more of that with Lucian’s story (whenever that comes)?! I have to admit that while I wasn’t at all a fan of daddy Westbrook (lol) in the last book, and though he still had his moments in this book, I found myself sympathising with him more. He just doesn’t want his children to be hurt and although he goes about it in asinine and dictatorial ways, he does have good intentions. I’m glad that Cass was able to get through to him and showed him the error of his ways though!
Despite knowing that Ruark is “forbidden” on several fronts (from her father it’s because he’s Irish, and from her brother, because he doesn’t want to see Cass hurt by Ruark as he knows Ruark’s reputation), there’s an undeniable attraction between them! The tension was almost palpable as they fought to keep away from each other while simultaneously being unable to stop themselves from seeking the other out at every opportunity. Burke also writes some delightful tension building steamy moments and I absolutely loved it!
Ruark was an… interesting hero. He made a promise to his father when he was on his death bed and in his grief and desire to do right by him, I can understand why he took it so to heart and even misconstrued what his father meant. I did like Ruark for the most part—he’s a happy-go-lucky kind of guy and he does have a good heart although he’s very quick to “fall in love” (or lust). However, I felt he did start stringing Cass along at some point and wanted to “have his cake and eat it too”, which I wasn’t a fan of and I thought she deserved better. Thankfully Cass felt the same way and made him see that! In the end, he obviously managed to pull his head out of his arse and did right by Cass. I thought Burke built up their chemistry wonderfully and I’m so glad that despite all the roadblocks they did get a HEA!
I’m not sure whose story will be next although I think it’s going to be Prudence’s especially with that little curve ball Burke throws at us 😂 I haven’t really formed any particular attachment to her character but I am curious to know what happened, so I’m looking forward to it!
Have you read Intolerable or is it on your TBR?