Lady of Desire, by Darcy Burke

whiskeyinthejar's review against another edition

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I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Margery and her aunts need money and Margery would prefer not to be sold to the first man who offers to save them. With the rediscovery of an old book that is a family treasure to Margery's aunts, the three hope they have found a way to change their fortunes. Margery ends up traveling to meet up with a book appraiser; she was expecting his father but gets the younger more attractive son. Rhys is not only delighted by his guest because he instantly finds her attractive but also finds himself salivating over the book she has brought him. It was written by a monk named de Valery and is rumored to contain a secret code that when paired with a sister copy will reveal a centuries old treasure, specifically the 13 hidden treasures from Arthurian times. Rhys and Margery end up pairing together traveling to decode and find hidden clues while dodging shady characters who may or may not be part of the secret society Order of the Round Table bound to protect the treasures and fight the building attraction growing between them.

Margery and Rhys are both charming characters but there was a slight lack of substance to them. Rhys was the more flushed out of the two, he had the faint sketchings as a never good enough son, arrogant but in a likeable way, and a spicy take charge presence in the bedroom. Margery showed glimpses of being strong willed and minded but they also seemed to be followed by actions that lead to "I'm doing this no matter!" creating TSTL situations. The characters worked well together as they progressed the treasure hunting arc, even if they don't pack a solid punch. Where Rhys and Margery's flame burns the brightest is in their limited bedroom scenes. Rhys is a scholar and loves his words, therefore encouraging Margery to speak her mind. These scenes are steamy and a little more sexy than usually found in historicals.

The treasure story arc was intriguing, even when it seemed to occasionally bumble along with additions of characters and clues. The pace slows a bit as the author tries to flush out the meaning and point of the de Valery Code but picks back up as final revelations are revealed. The main characters, their relationship, and mystery story thread are a bit like a new born foal. It all starts off very eager, wobbly, and precarious in its efforts but endearing you to its cause. Overall, this story is a great step away from the usual regency flair and its characters add to its likeability. With thirteen treasures to possibly be found, I expect more books on the way and I'm hooked enough to want to read the next in the series.

tericr's review

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adventurous emotional lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


jaclynder's review against another edition

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The de Valery Code is Darcy Burke’s newest historical romance, and also a start of new series. I was quite a fan of Secrets & Scandals series, and I loved the adventurous premise of The de Valery Code.

Margery Derrington is an impoverished spinster living with her two aunts. Money is tight for this small family and they need to come up with some ready cash or Margery will be forced to marry to keep them afloat, a notion Margery does not want to contemplate until absolutely necessary.

Marrying for love didn’t interest her. Love didn’t interest her. Life was far easier to navigate if she kept that sort of emotion at bay. She’d buried her sentimentality deep after her parents had died. (p.6)

Luckily, Margery and her aunts stumble across a rare and possibly valuable medieval book by Edmund de Valery. While the family doesn’t want to part with such a treasure, the need for something to live on is dire, so Margery sets off to discuss the sale of the book with noted scholar, Rhys Bowen. Rhys immediately recognizes the priceless treasure that Margery carries, and hopes that the book will ultimately lead him to an Arthurian treasure trove, thus solidifying his name as a scholar of note. However, Rhys has no intention of sharing this information with Margery, and so a battle of the sexes ensues. I have to admit that I’m a little torn with this one. I was really looking forward to it since I had loved the other books by the author that I’ve read, but at the end of the book, I felt that there was something missing in the romance department. The adventure and the storyline themselves were great; I wanted to find out who was behind the attempted thefts of the book. I was less interested in Margery and Rhys as a couple.

What I liked about this one was the adventure and on-the-road romance theme. There were bits of humour between the two main characters that were great and entertaining. There is one particular scene where they keep meeting in the hallway that I thought was too cute. The instances with the flashes of humour were a big hit with me; however, they didn’t make up for my lack of interest with the hero and heroine. Perhaps had there been more interactions between Margery and Rhys like the meetings on the stairs I might have been more engaged with the romance.

For me, I just didn’t feel the connection between Margery and Rhys. They were both so stubborn for so much of the book, that I felt myself losing interest in their happily ever after. Margery in particular was extremely resistant to committing to a relationship:

She’d pushed him away at every opportunity because allowing him to get too close meant losing him would only hurt that much more. As it was, the thought of never seeing his eyes light at that precise moment of discovery, or hearing his warm laugh, stung deep. (p. 214)

While it was explained why Margery wasn’t interested in a permanent relationship, I just couldn’t help but be frustrated by the continued resistance. Generally, in the romances that I read, I tend to like those that spend more time with the hero and heroine as a couple as opposed to the bulk of the book focusing on the progression to that relationship.

Ultimately, The de Valery Code was a solid read and a good choice for fans of adventurous romances. There’s villains and a secret order of Arthurians that brought a nice element of suspense to this one. I’m certainly going to be back for the second book in the series since I’m quite curious as to the direction and the characters to be featured in book two.

For similar reads see The Book Adventures.

*Review copy via NetGalley.