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Lady Derring Takes a Lover: The Palace of Rogues

by Julie Anne Long

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686305,687 (3.93)None
A mistress. A mountain of debt. A mysterious wreck of a building. Delilah Swanpoole, 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?  … (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Quite simply, a delight. JAL is a little bit of a witch in these scenes you can feel, at least they work deliciously well for me.

I was immediately impressed with the heroine, and then that Long didn't fall into her regular trap with other women, and instead made a bond between them. And that is what carried the first 40%. Delilah's development, fortitude, and the friendship/her treatment of people were truly lovely.

The mystery was fine, sure. But the standout, for me, was what I think separates Long's books from so many others. That moment that you can feel the heartbeat of the characters. In this, you can practically feel Tristan opening like a flower in the sun-and his purpose-and his vulnerability all tying so beautifully together with Delilah's journey.

Even around 80% I was thinking, nice, solid 3.5. But it's not. Because in the end, looking back, it has that little something that tips the scales for me emotionally, and this time she did it with the thing I complain about. It could've been even better, I just wanted a bit more of them. 4.5 rounded up b/c why not (less) ( )
  samnreader | Jan 3, 2021 |
My favorite author! I love Julie Anne Long's books -and I've read a lot of historical romance novels over the last thirty years! Her whimsical prose is a joy to read, her characters are heartfelt, the plots are always entertaining and well thought out.
For most of history, women, no matter their station, have been one stroke of bad luck away from poverty, destitution, the work house or a life of prostitution. Delilah learns soon after the untimely death of her husband, the Count of Derring, that he has neglected to provide any financial security for her present or her future, either for her, or his mistress, Angelique, aside from one dilapidated building. These gently bred ladies soon realize that in this desperate hour, they must band together if they are going to survive; and that's when things get interesting!
I recommend this book with a full 5 stars, as well as the follow up "Angel in a Devil's Arms", which I'm more than half way through! ( )
  mbosvyle | Feb 1, 2020 |
We begin at the end...which is in fact a NEW beginning.

The Earl of Derring was dead to begin with...no really, totally and unequivocally dead...and if he wasn't, I would have had to crawl through the pages to give him a piece of my mind to CHOKE upon. The nerve of that "man". What he did...and with whom...and why...ugh! It's enough to make a lady step down a few notches and have to add some pence to the swear jar. The funny part is...despite what he did, and despite how it all comes to light, the two truly wronged parties come out all right, at least for the time being. The kinship that forms between the two ladies "Derring" is so GIRL POWER, so not of the times, but so smile inducing, and fist pump worthy, that you'll have all you can do not to cheer loudly from your favorite reading chair as they show the people what two LADIES can do...

Now that all being said, it doesn't mean that the ladies didn't have some manly intervention along the way. Much to their chagrin, there is some sidestepping they have to do around the opposite of their kind, but it isn't because they lack a choice, but rather MADE the choice because it was more beneficial to them and their endeavor. Tristan Hardy is a heck of a guy. He seems hardcore, he seems cut from different cloth and unattainable, but everyone has a weakness, and he's about to meet his. The going is tough, the mission he is on can't be compromised, but he'll be darned if he isn't the least bit distracted by a certain someone...

In the end, I was DELIGHTFULLY surprised by how much I enjoyed my time between the pages. Getting to know the characters, watching them battle the presumptions of the ton, coming along for the entrepreneurial endeavors, and seeing them struggle to come to terms with their feelings...why it made for an enchanting read from start to finish! Highly recommended to the adult Historical Romance reading audience.


**copy received for review; opinions are my own
( )
  GRgenius | Sep 15, 2019 |
I wish I could give this more stars. It's such a clever, charming, and funny story. Every character is finely drawn, no matter their foibles so you want to be friends with them just as Delilah does in the story. Ms. Long has the ability to make people who should be ridiculous be more sympathetic. And what she does with the hero and heroine is magic.
I like slow building romances. Both Delilah and Tristan are convinced there's no such thing as love, but the chemistry between them here is palpable. There's just no doubt they'll finally get together, but the path to their HEA is believable and sexy.
Along with the romance is the friendships. Chief among them is the odd relationship between Delilah and Angelique, her late husband's mistress. The only thing the late earl leaves Delilah is a rundown house by the docks, and the two decide to pool their resources into making it a boarding house. It's an unlikely friendship that works. Their employees and boarders only enhance the story.
I love the way Ms. Long writes. This book harks back to her Pennyroyal Green series - I appreciate the shoutout to Miles Redmond - and while I like her contemporary romances, she just knows how to write memorable historicals. She can even wry a fart joke in a manner that made me laugh out loud:
"And then he mentioned flatulence."
This stunned Angelique into silence.
"Not his own," Delilah added.
As if this was somehow better.
"...yours?" Andelique ventured, in hushed horror.
"No. Delacorte's."
"Oh. Yes. Well, I can see that."
I puzzled over the half-token and Mr. X for the entire book, and the ending still took me by surprise, so now I can't wait for the next book in the series. I'm really glad Ms. Long has returned to the historical romance genre. ( )
  N.W.Moors | Mar 6, 2019 |
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.

No one, particularly not her late husband, had ever valued her for wits. Oh, but she possessed them.

Starting off the Palace of the Rogues series, Lady Derring Takes a Lover, is a magnificent return to historicals for Long. The first thirty percent of the book was perfection with our heroine Delilah being told by her solicitor that her late husband was in massive debt and eventually winding up going into business with said late husband's mistress. Their Grand Palace on the Thames boarding house becomes the setting for smuggling intrigue and romance.

“Derring never laughed at my jokes. But I laughed at all of his, even though I didn’t find him amusing. He sulked if I didn’t,” Delilah said. “It’s a small but killing thing, isn’t?”

Delilah and the mistress, Angelique, start off very wary of each other but with fantastic telling some truths and learning lessons story writing, Long gives us a female relationship that you will ship hard. This tandem of women from different social levels and impoverished by the same man bonding together was just brilliant. Long played them off each other beautifully, they had their separate strengths and weaknesses but ultimately, their hearts beat for the same reasons. If looking for a immensely satisfying female relationship in your romance, this is it.

“I am the king’s favorite hunting dog.”

Our hero, Captain Tristan Hardy, is all that is strong, contained, and eventually burning. Delilah and Angelique start off with more of the focus and are so strong, that Tristan ended up a little bit to the edges of the spotlight. It takes a little bit before Tristan and Delilah really get going, around 40%, which I know will make some antsy, but while their time seems a bit shortened by how full this first in series book is, they tended to make the most of it. From the first time Tristan sees Delilah, to the mandatory drawing room nights, and finally to the last 10% of their story, they had chemistry. Tristan might not have felt as fully fleshed out as I like, but let me tell you, the man can grovel/make things right with the top tier of romance heroes.

The notion of seducing her made him breathless, because he thought it was both possible and inadvisable for a dozen reasons.

While Delilah is living at and running the boarding house because it was the only thing not repossessed, Tristan arrives there because he is the captain of the blockade. His investigation into a cigar smuggling ring has led him to believe Delilah's husband was involved, along with The Palace of the Rogues, renamed The Grand Palace on the Thames by Delilah and Angelique. I thought the cigar smuggling investigation worked to get these two together but it moved very slowly and tended to feel almost ignored at times, not the strength of the novel. It is obvious the history of the former Palace of the Rogues is going to be the plot thread stringing the series together as we get a couple hints and clues here that will probably add to the building of an eventually completed puzzle (series).

It was nearly as much a collision as a kiss, at first, fierce and hard, as if they were both intent on punishing themselves and each other for wanting this.

Long did a great job interweaving secondary characters to create a full ensemble cast but I did think it took away from time I would have preferred to go to Delilah and Tristan. I loved Tristan's relationship with his Lt., providing a wonderful showing and not telling insight into his personality and character, wouldn't change a thing about Delilah and Angelique's friendship, but a very small secondary romance and some other minor focuses on characters could have been taken out. There is some on fire commentary dealing with women's rights but I did almost cringe at a very close to feeling forced mansplaining moment. There is some definite first in a series fullness happening here but again, Tristan and Delilah's moments are impactful when they have them.

“Oh, now I see. You’re that Captain Hardy.”

The beginning was 5 stars, the middle 3.5ish, and the ending brought it back to 5 stars, for me. All in all, I was highly impressed with this first installment and am dying to read the next in the series, which I think will be about Angelique and a mysterious stranger that arrives late in the story. A brilliant female friendship, a loaded chemistry couple, and an ensemble cast that pulls you into their world, don't miss this one.

“Know that I am at your mercy, now and forever.” ( )
  WhiskeyintheJar | Feb 14, 2019 |
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A mistress. A mountain of debt. A mysterious wreck of a building. Delilah Swanpoole, 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?  

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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.

ut 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?
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