Series: The Palace of Rogues #1
Published by Avon on February 26th 2019
Genres: Historical Romance
Source: Avon, Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Audible
Cliffhanger: 9 hrs 13 min
A mistress. A mountain of debt. A mysterious wreck of a building.
Delilah Swanpool, Countess of Derring, learns the hard way that her husband, "Dear Dull Derring," is a lot more interesting—and perfidious—dead than alive. It's a devil of an inheritance, but in the grand ruins of the one building Derring left her, are the seeds of her liberation. And she vows never again to place herself at the mercy of a man.
But battle-hardened Captain Tristan Hardy is nothing if not merciless. When the charismatic naval hero tracks a notorious smuggler to a London boarding house known as the Rogue's Palace, seducing the beautiful, blue-blooded proprietress to get his man seems like a small sacrifice.
They both believe love is a myth. But a desire beyond reason threatens to destroy the armor around their hearts. Now a shattering decision looms: Will Tristan betray his own code of honor…or choose a love that might be the truest thing he's ever known?
Lady Derring Takes a Lover
by Julie Anne Long
“Delilah . . .” he said softly, suddenly. And her name almost sounded like a song.
Ahh how long I’ve been waiting for Julie Anne Long to return to Historical Romance. Finally, FINALLY she gives us a delightful story that will have any fan of this sub genre laugh and swoon.
Lady Delilah Derring makes an oath: never again she will be dependent on a man. Her late husband left nothing but debt and a bitter taste. Except for a shabby, old house with a bad reputation on the Thames she has nothing much to call her own. Together with her new friend Angelique, her husband’s former mistress they clean the house, furnish it and give it a grand name.
When the boarding house “The Great Palace on the Thames” opens its doors Captain Hardy is highly interested in renting a room. Not because he needs a place to stay but because Lady Derring’s late husband seems to have been involved in smuggling goods and thus cheating the crown of tax money. Tristan is the king’s enforcer, a blockade commander. He is the best and immensely valued by the crown. When he meets Delilah he is instantly drawn to her. But being a potential smuggler’s widow makes her a suspect, too. For now.
Delilah’s need for independence is a theme that takes you through the whole story. She has always been a means to an end, for everyone, and for once in her life she doesn’t want to need anyone and especially not a man. She’s fiercely independent and proud, intelligent, witty with a finely honed tongue and when hurt, she lashes out and kills with words. I couldn’t be mad at her, not once did I fault her for it because, while it sometimes felt unfair for the receiving end I never felt that she was malicious. She has a kindness about her that Captain Hardy finds irresistible.
“I think that the reason the world contains people like you and people like me is so that I can keep you safe should your kindness land on people who do not deserve it.”
Tristan is a right badass. Taciturn, seemingly stoic and unmoved there is a big amount of mischief that made me fall head over heels in love with him. He has a subtle, dry sense of humor that made me laugh quite a bit.
“The pillow was fluffy and the fire most warm.”
“I’ve little use for fires that aren’t warm, myself,” Tristan said.
But there is also a vulnerable side about him that you will see later on in the story. I loved how smitten he was with Delilah, how he didn’t hide it, that he respected her and boy, the man was quite the sensual seducer. His smiles, so rare and far between felt like something profound just happened.
He allowed her space in which to be herself. He did not assume that what she had to say could possibly have no merit, because she was a woman.
There are some side characters that add to the depth of the story and the epilogue gives you a hint who we’ll see next in this series. Angelique, Delilah’s new friend and business partner is her husband’s former mistress. This in itself is an unusual constellation but they make it work and grow close and along with the main characters I fell in love with Angelique, who was astute, clever and a little jaded but at the core she had a buttery soft spot for Delilah. I’m looking forward to learning more about her.
Julie Anne Long returns with a bang to historical romance. LADY DERRING TAKES A LOVER makes for an entirely delightful and entertaining read which, admittedly may be a little slow in the beginning, but the deeper you delve into the story the more it draws you in. The romance is at the heart of this story but spun around it is a little bit of a mystery about the smuggling ring Captain Hardy is trying to break up. I can’t recommend this author enough. Her dry humor is understated and maybe that’s why it’s all the funnier, her writing style is so beautiful and the more you read, the more emotional it becomes. If you want to try a new historical romance series don’t hesitate to pick this one up. It’s definitely worth it.
“I love you because here you are standing patiently, and you are waiting for me to speak because you want to hear what I have to say because what I say and think matters to you. Because you have a tender heart, whether you know it or not, and a magnificently tough hide. Because your soul is fathoms deep and you speak in poetry and you don’t even know it.”