Review: After Dark with the Duke by Julie Anne Long

After Dark with the Duke by Julie Anne Long
Series: The Palace of Rogues #4 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: November 30th 2021
Links: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Sparks fly when a daring diva clashes with an ice-cold war hero in the newest thrilling romance in USA Today bestselling author Julie Anne Long’s Palace of Rogues series.

She arrives in the dead of night, a mob out for blood at her heels: Mariana Wylde, the “Harlot of Haywood Street,” an opera diva brought low by a duel fought for her favors. But the ladies of the Grand Palace on the Thames think they can make a silk purse from scandal: They’ll restore her reputation and share in her triumph…provided they can keep her apart from that other guest.

Coldly brilliant, fiercely honorable, General James Duncan Blackmore, the Duke of Valkirk, is revered, feared, desired…but nobody truly knows him. Until a clash with a fiery, vulnerable beauty who stands for everything he scorns lays him bare. It’s too clear the only cure for consuming desire is conquest, but their only chance at happiness could lead to their destruction.

The legendary duke never dreamed love would be his last battleground. Valkirk would lay down his life for Mariana, but his choice is stark: risk losing her forever, or do the one thing he vowed he never would…surrender.

After Dark with the Duke was fabulous! I haven’t read too many Julie Anne Long books but this is easily my favorite one so far. I’m a sucker for a stoic, older hero!

Mariana Wylde is an opera singer known as the “Harlot of Haywood Street.” She needs some help in restoring her reputation, and the ladies at the Grand Palace on the Thames are determined to do just that. There’s just one little chink in this plan, and that takes place in the form of General James Duncan Blackmore. He’s 18 years older than her and very straight-laced. He doesn’t approve of Mariana because of her supposed reputation. There’s wit, banter, and plenty of chemistry between them. I loved the push and pull and the way the romance slowly developed.

If you love opposites attract and forced proximity in your historical romances, I highly recommend this book. Even though they get off on the wrong foot in the beginning, James and Mariana have this fantastic connection that draws them in. They’re both hiding at the Grand Palace in their own ways and manage to find love and solace with each other. It was just a very swoony romance and I really want to read more JAL books now!


lacey


Reading Order: The Palace of Rogues series

#1 ~ Lady Derring Takes a Lover: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Angel in a Devil’s Arms: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ I’m Only Wicked with You: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ After Dark with the Duke: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#5 ~ You Were Made to Be Mine: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads (June 28, 2022)


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Blog Tour // Review + Excerpt: Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long

Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long
Series: The Palace of Rogues #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: February 26th 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?

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleiTunesIndieBound

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Lady Derring Takes a Lover is my first Julie Anne Long book. I know many who love her work, so I was excited to dive into this. While I didn’t love it, I did overall enjoy the writing and the characters. JAL has a particular writing style that distinguishes her from other historical romances I’ve read, which I appreciated.

Delilah Swanpoole has just left her husband, who has left her with a mountain of debt. The only thing she inherits is a random building by the docks. Though she didn’t love her late husband, she cared for him, so she was surprised to find out he was in debt… and had a mistress. She meets this mistress, Angelique, and they form a wary truce that eventually deepens into a strong friendship and business relationship regarding the abandoned building.

Captain Tristan Hardy is tasked with tracking a cigar smuggling operation, and this leads him to the building that Delilah is now the owner of. He needs to investigate how much she was involved with the smuggling, if at all, but doesn’t expect to grow feelings for her. I’ll admit, I never particularly connected with Tristan as much as I did Delilah – he’s a very reserved and calm person, though I did enjoy the way his and Delilah’s relationship deepened. They bring out something different in each other, and it was fun reading their flirtation and banter.

Delilah is definitely my favorite part about this book. She is lost after her husband’s death, trying to navigate a life without financial security or even a home, but the one thing she does have is her dignity. She keeps her head high and strong, eventually learning about herself and what she wants in life. Her character development is wonderful!

Even though I didn’t love it, Lady Derring Takes a Lover is a strong historical romance that I’d recommend if you want something different than your typical romance with a duke or rake. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!


lacey

Now here’s an excerpt from Lady Derring Takes a Lover! ❤

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She’d taken two steps when he said, his voice raised only a little, “Lady Derring . . . something puzzles me.”

She halted.

Closed her eyes.

Took a shuddering breath for courage.

Turned back to him. From the relatively safe distance of three feet, she said, “Surely not. We’ve established you know everything.”

His smile was small and patient. “You seem to excel at so very much here at The Grand Palace on the Thames. Yet you can’t seem to disguise how much you want me.”

Reading Order: The Palace of Rogues series

#1 ~ Lady Derring Takes a Lover: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Angel in a Devil’s Arms: EbookPaperbackGoodreads (Oct. 29, 2019)

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USA Today bestselling author Julie Anne Long originally set out to be a rock star when she grew up (and she has the guitars and fringed clothing stuffed in the back of her closet to prove it), but writing was always her first love. Since hanging up her guitar for the computer keyboard, her books frequently top reader and critic polls and have been nominated for numerous awards, including the Rita, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice, and The Quills, and reviewers have been known to use words like “dazzling,” “brilliant,” and “impossible to put down” when describing them. Julie lives in Northern California.

Website • Twitter • FacebookGoodreads


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