Review: A Duke She Can't Refuse (Impossible Balfours #1) by Gemma Blackwood


Print Length: 179 pages
Publisher: Emily Honeyfield (October 31, 2019)

From  Headstrong Miss Daisy Morton must make a choice: play the fiancée to a duke she doesn’t love, or face ruin.

Daisy’s loyalty to her friends is always getting her into awkward places. Unfortunately, those places include the bedroom of the stern young Duke of Loxwell, where she is caught hiding by one of society’s most notorious gossips.

For mysterious reasons of his own, the duke saves her reputation with a false engagement. There’s only one rule: she can't fall in love with him.

Simple enough. What are the chances that the true love Daisy has always dreamed of should turn out to be the strict, strait-laced, surprisingly tender duke with a devastating smile reserved especially for her?

Alexander Balfour, the new Duke of Loxwell, lives for honour and duty. The dukedom weighs as heavily on his shoulders as the responsibility of setting an example for his four unruly sisters.

And that honour has sealed his fate forever. A fatal mistake in his past means he cannot fall in love without betraying those he holds dearest.

Even if Daisy turns his world upside down in a hundred different ways, she cannot save him from his lonely penance.

My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

This story was simply meh. There was nothing that stood out from the countless other books of this genre already on the market. The sad thing is, the author had a good idea - she just didn't give herself enough space to really flesh it out and bring it to life. Because of this, not only does the relationship between Alexander and Daisy feels stilted, but the background characters feel more like cardboard cutouts than real people. 

Then there were the other sub-plots that just seemed so overly dramatic that they were laughable instead of believable. 


The whole story begins with Daisy covering up for her friend (and it doesn't seem like the first time either). As she is cleaning up the pieces of the broken vase she hears people coming so she hides. Whilst in hiding she spots a key under the bed and then promptly forgets about it? Even when the vase is mentioned more than once (and especially when it is revealed that there was nothing special about the vase that would have caused such a fuss), she doesn't remember the key that she tried to grab until the very end of the book? 

And what was the point of the villain? He (like some of the other secondary characters) appears only when it is convenient, meaning that his motivations are never really made clear, above wanting five thousand pounds of an inheritance left to someone else. Even with any debts he may have had, the risks he took weren't worth it.

Finally, the biggest WTF moment for me came from finding out just what Alexander did in the past that made him believe he wasn't worthy of finding someone to love. He was not at fault in any way, and in fact, in my opinion, the other man deserved what he got for acting stupidly reckless. Alexander didn't push him, nor did he challenge him to a duel or anything else. The coward choose to do what he did instead of facing up to the consequences.


Despite these things, I have decided that I will continue on at least with the next in this series. Hopefully, the little annoyances from the first book are forgotten as the author gains her footing in this world that she has created. 

                            A Duke She Can't Refuse  is available from
                                      (for free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited)

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