Special thanks to Zealous Quill Press for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!
Goodreads: Impossible (The Phoenix Club #6)
Publisher: Zealous Quill Press
Published: 19 April 2022
Genre: Historical Romance
Ada Treadway has been in love before, and it brought nothing but heartache. Still, she retains her cheerful optimism and is fiercely protective of the independence and respect she’s earned as bookkeeper of the Phoenix Club. When the owner enlists her help to organize his friend’s estate ledgers, she’s eager to prove her expertise and her worth. But his friend turns out to be a disagreeable, unpleasant beast, and Ada works to find the warm-hearted gentleman she’s sure lurks beneath.
Maximillian Hunt, the Viscount Warfield doesn’t care if he lives to see tomorrow, and he certainly doesn’t want to recall yesterday. The arrival of the meddlesome and effusively positive woman who will put his accounts in order not only reminds him of the past he’s desperate to forget, she sparks something within him he thought dead. Tempted by a future he never imagined, he must do the impossible: convince her that he’s worth risking her heart a second time.
TL;DR: Overall, while this started off strong, the romance felt a little too half-baked for me to fully enjoy it. That’s not to say that I didn’t like these characters or enjoy their story because I did, and I was actually quite convinced that this was going to be a favourite in this series, so it was quite disappointing that their romance ended up being a bit unsatisfying for me. I am looking forward to the next book in the series though as we finally get McDougal’s story!
It’s been a while since I read a historical romance by Darcy Burke but I enjoyed it as I always do. Ada was a great female lead and Max was a flawed hero for such a heartbreaking reason. I enjoyed their chemistry and witty banter, and I loved being back at the Phoenix Club with Evie and Lucien with small cameos from previous couples. I didn’t read the previous book in this series yet so Ada and Max were mostly new to me, but as this can definitely be read as a standalone, there was no issue. If you enjoy grumpy/sunshine romances, then you will enjoy the dynamic between Ada and Max! This also served slight Beauty and the Beast retelling vibes which I didn’t expect so that was a pleasant surprise.
Ada charmed me from the very beginning. She is a literal ray of sunshine who always sees the positive in people and charms everyone with her attentiveness, kindness and wit. Although she carries the trauma of being abandoned by her family at a young age, I really admired how she refused to let any negativity into her days. Her enthusiasm and curiosity knew no bounds and it was infectious and it was exactly what Max needed in his life. Max returned from the war a completely changed man. He’s surly, bitter and carries around the heavy burden of guilt from the war for very tragic reasons. It became very obvious later in the story that he suffers from PTSD, even more than it seemed initially, and it was very heartbreaking to see him go through that. He has a good heart although he has repressed his emotions for so long that it took a while to find some semblance of his former happy self and I admired his desire to do better.
Here’s the thing: I liked Ada and Max together—they have great chemistry and I thought they complemented each other well. There was a gradual build-up to the change in their relationship dynamic as they go from hate to tolerance to gaining some understanding of each other’s pain. Max was willful and it took Ada quite a bit of teasing and persistence (something she was great at) for him to loosen up around her but I liked their banter as they got to know each other! That said, I thought the moment their platonic admiration turned into lustful feelings and sexual attraction felt a bit too sudden. It’s not insta-love but they still fall in love quickly and it felt too rushed considering they have many personal issues to deal with, which made me feel like their relationship wasn’t very healthy. In particular, Max’s character could have stood to be further developed as it was clear he was suffering greatly from PTSD and the fact that he was suddenly ‘fine’ with Ada around gave their romance a “love cures all” vibe that I didn’t agree with considering how much trauma he repressed. Focusing on this would’ve made the story much stronger and it would’ve been a story that both characters deserved because they were great and it was so easy to root for their HEA.
Have you read Impossible or is it on your TBR? Have you read any of the other books in The Phoenix Club series?