Review: Duke Darcy’s Castle by Syrie James

Posted April 23, 2020 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 18 Comments

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

Review: Duke Darcy’s Castle by Syrie James
Duke Darcy's Castle

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Series: Dare to Defy #3
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Avon
Released on February 25, 2020
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Book Tour Provided
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The Delight

She comes from wealth, but dares to take up a male-dominated career; he inherited a title and a pile of debts.  Neither believe in love for themselves.  An old castle, a wise grandmother, secrets, and a pair of reluctant lovers made for a sparkling Victorian romance.

Duke Darcy’s Castle is book three in the Dare to Defy series of standalone romances about three unconventional American heiresses who find their own way to happily ever after.

Kathryn Atherton has been enamored with architectural design since she was a young girl.  It is all she has focused on ever since even to the detriment of a personal life.  She is trying to make a go of a career in a man’s field and they don’t want her there.  She decides that it must be a career or a family, but she can’t have both no matter how insistent her mother is that she marry into British aristocracy as the wealthy heiress she is.  Kathryn wants no complications from her family name or wealth and she wants the career more than anything that is until she sets eyes on the new Duke of Darcy and his Cornish Castle.  Lance makes her shiver with attraction and that was before their encounter over the pool table.

Lance Granville would give anything to be back at sea as captain of his own ship, but instead he has inherited after his brother’s death.  Debt and so many needs in the castle and its village weigh him down and then an intrepid female architect arrives hired by his late brother to redesign the public rooms at the castle.  He likes her spirit and her looks.  What could be the harm in letting her sketch out plans and be there to brighten his days for a little while before he has to go to London and play the mercenary to find a rich bride to save the family fortune?

Duke Darcy’s Castle is an uncomplicated, sensual historical romance.  Because of this simple plot, it had a light-weight feel to it.  It doesn’t delve deep.  Her career, his need for money, professional behavior toward client, and a swift attraction.

Oh, but wait, there’s more… He keeps his financial status a secret even after he tries for something more with her when he knows she’s an heiress and he knows he should tell her the truth.  This Sword of Damocles feeling of not knowing when the secret would get out as they got more deeply entangled with each other offered the tension beyond the basic story conflict of how they could be together because she wanted a career and he needed a Duchess.

I did enjoy exploring the series theme in this one with her choice to pursue architectural design and the details about that and her struggle to get accepted.  It was also interesting to see how being a second son with a career he enjoyed and then having to give it up for duty to family played in.  They developed a friendship and understanding over these things that I thought was wonderful.

The romance was the weakest spot for me.  Not because I didn’t like them or see them together, but because it led with this swift overwhelming sexual need that kept them preoccupied  a great deal and it seemed to hit them out of nowhere at first.  They latched eyes on each other at the get go and then were in the throws of passion by that evening.  Fortunately, this sizzling attraction was not the only connection and the companionable part kicked in so it was more balanced.

Lance’s grandmother was a delightful addition to the story.  She was wise and fun and not as oblivious as she appeared.  Between her and Kathryn’s sisters, they sorted out the pair of struggling lovers.

All in all, it was an easy read spicy historical romance with a likeable pair.  I’ve enjoyed many other books from the author including an earlier one in the series.  I can heartily recommend this one to those who enjoy a spicy low-angst easy-going historical romance set in the Victorian era.

My thanks to the author and Austenprose for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met

New Release #40
Historical Fiction #38
COYER Quarantine #14
Romance BINGO #21 Duke in the title


Duke Darcy's Castle by Syrie JamesDuke Darcy’s Castle by Syrie James
Series: Dare to Defy
Historical Romance, Victorian Romance
Publisher: Avon Impulse on February 25, 2020
384 Pages

Lance Granville, the Tenth Duke of Darcy, was none too happy to give up his career in the Royal Navy to inherit the family title, complete with an ancient castle he needs to renovate. When an architect arrives on his doorstep, Darcy is astonished to discover that she’s a woman.

Kathryn Atherton has one goal: to become the first woman architect in Britain. Marriage doesn’t figure in her plans. Despite the odds, her schooling is behind her. Now she needs experience. When she’s sent to a small tidal island in Cornwall to remodel a castle, the last thing Kathryn wants is to be attracted to its roguishly handsome owner.

Kathryn is determined to keep things professional, but the sizzling attraction between her and the duke quickly blazes out of control. When Darcy learns that Kathryn is an heiress whose fortune would save St. Gabriel’s Mount, he wages the most important battle of his life: to woo and win the woman who’s captured his heart. But (in an homage to Austen), the Duke’s first proposal is so Darcyesque, he is refused. In any case, duchesses can’t be architects. And Kathryn has worked too long and too hard to give up her career for anyone ….



Three American heiresses defy their family’s wishes, and social convention, to strike out and find their own happiness in late Victorian Cornwall.

Runaway Heiress: A Dare to Defy Novel (Book 1)

Brainy and college-educated, American heiress Alexandra Atherton will do anything to avoid marriage to the English peer her mother has chosen for her—even abandon the life of privilege she’s always known. But as her escape goes horribly wrong, Alexandra must invent a new identity to gain the help of a handsome stranger.



Summer of Scandal: A Dare to Defy Novel (Book 2)

An American heiress and an English earl fight against the conventions of society — and their attraction to each other — in the second book in the Dare to Defy series by USA Today bestselling author Syrie James.



SYRIE JAMES is the USA TODAY and Amazon bestselling author of thirteen novels of historical, contemporary, and young adult fiction and romance. Her books have hit many Best of the Year lists, been designated as Library Journal Editor’s Picks, and won numerous accolades and awards, including Best New Fiction by Regency World Magazine (the international bestseller “The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen”), and the national Audiobook Audie for Romance (“The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte”, also named a Great Group Read by the Women’s National Book Association). Los Angeles Magazine dubbed Syrie the “queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings,” and her books have been published in twenty languages. A member of the Writer’s Guild of America, Syrie is also an established screenwriter and playwright who makes her home in Los Angeles. An admitted Anglophile, Syrie has addressed audiences across the U.S., Canada, and the British Isles.


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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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2 years ago

The theme is interesting. And it looks like a good one!

Sophia Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  Melliane

Yes, fun to see the lady in an unusual career for the period.

Mary Kirkland
2 years ago

I love wise old grandmother’s. That sounds like it was a good read.

Sophia Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  Mary Kirkland

Same here! She was such a sparkling character.

sherry fundin
2 years ago

pretty covers and i do enjoy a historical romance from time to time
sherry @ fundinmental

Sophia Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  sherry fundin

I adore the covers for this whole series. The colors are the best.

2 years ago

I love that this series is made up of stand alone entries. This way the reader can jump in wherever!

Sophia Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  Ethan

Yes, if one blurb grabs the attention more then the reader can dive into that story first. 🙂

Lover of Romance
2 years ago

Ooh what a interesting premise we have here, and I have the first book in the series to read pretty soon here. I love to see these unique careers pop into these books.

Great review

Sophia Rose
2 years ago

How fun! That sister shows up in this one and her story was mentioned a little. I’ve read the middle and this last story and enjoyed them both. The ladies are each so unique. 🙂

Carole Rae
2 years ago

The grandma sounds like fun!

Sophia Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  Carole Rae

I cracked up when she let them know that she noticed a great deal more than she let on all that time when they were sneaking around trying to ‘protect’ her. 🙂

Jenea’s Book Obsession

It sounds really good but it’s too bad about the romance though.

Sophia Rose
2 years ago

Yeah, it was one of those where it started rough for me, but then settled into working better once it got going. It really helped that I liked them both.

Felicity Grace Terry
2 years ago

Not books that appeal to me but I know my mother-in-law would love them. Thank you for featuring Duke Darcy’s Castle, I think I may have found her her birthday present.

Sophia Rose
2 years ago

Well, that worked out great. Glad to point you on to a good gift, Felicity!

Carole's Random Life in Books

I haven’t read this author before but I really like the premise of this one. It sounds like these two definitely had a case of insta-lust 🙂 I really do like the sound of these characters.

Sophia Rose
2 years ago

They both were great characters and I enjoyed how much they respected each other once they got past the lust inferno. 🙂