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The Palace of Rogues #1

Lady Derring Takes a Lover

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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


384 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 26, 2019

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About the author

Julie Anne Long

36 books2,383 followers
Well, where should I start? I've lived in San Francisco for more than a decade, usually with at least one cat. I won the school spelling bee when I was in 7th grade; the word that clinched it was 'ukulele.' I originally set out to be a rock star when I grew up (I had a Bono fixation, but who didn't?), and I have the guitars and the questionable wardrobe stuffed in the back of my closet to prove it.

But writing was always my first love.

I was editor of my elementary school paper (believe it or not, Mrs. Little's fifth grade class at Glenmoor Elementary did have one); my high school paper (along with my best high school bud, Cindy Jorgenson); and my college paper, where our long-suffering typesetter finally forced me to learn how to typeset because my articles were usually late (and thus I probably have him to thank for all the desktop publishing jobs that ensued over the years).

Won a couple of random awards along the way: the Bank of America English Award in High School (which basically just amounted to a fancy plaque saying that I was really, really good at English); and an award for best Sports Feature article in a College Newspaper (and anyone who knows me well understands how deeply ironic that is). I began my academic career as a Journalism major; I switched to Creative Writing, which was a more comfortable fit for my freewheeling imagination and overdeveloped sense of whimsy. I dreamed of being a novelist.

But most of us, I think, tend to take for granted the things that come easily to us. I loved writing and all indications were that I was pretty good at it, but I, thank you very much, wanted to be a rock star. Which turned out to be ever-so-slightly harder to do than writing. A lot more equipment was involved, that's for sure. Heavy things, with knobs. It also involved late nights, fetid, graffiti-sprayed practice rooms, gorgeous flakey boys, bizarre gigs, in-fighting—what's not to love?

But my dream of being a published writer never faded. When the charm (ahem) of playing to four people in a tiny club at midnight on a Wednesday finally wore thin, however, I realized I could incorporate all the best things about being in a band — namely, drama, passion, and men with unruly hair — into novels, while at the same time indulging my love of history and research.

So I wrote The Runaway Duke, sent it to a literary agent (see the story here), who sold it to Warner Books a few months after that...which made 2003 one of the most extraordinary, head-spinning years I've ever had.

Why romance? Well, like most people, I read across many genres, but I've been an avid romance reader since I got in trouble for sneaking a Rosemary Rogers novel out of my mom's nightstand drawer (I think it was Sweet Savage Love). Rosemary Rogers, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Laurie McBain...I cut my romance teeth on those ladies. And in general, I take a visceral sort of pleasure in creating a hero and a heroine, putting them through their emotional paces, and watching their relationship develop on the page. And of course, there's much to be said for the happy ending. :)

And why Regency Historicals? Well, for starters, I think we can blame Jane Austen. Her inimitable wit, compassion and vision brought the Regency vividly to life for generations of readers. If Jane Austen had written romances about Incas, for instance, I think, we'd have racks and racks of Inca romances in bookstores all over the country, and Warner Forever would be the Inca Romance line.

But I'm a history FREAK, in general. I read more history, to be perfectly honest, than fiction (when I have time to read!) these days. When we were little, my sister and I used to play "Littl

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Profile Image for WhiskeyintheJar.
1,255 reviews518 followers
January 27, 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.”
Profile Image for Caz.
2,621 reviews993 followers
March 6, 2019
4.5 stars/B+.

Confession time: I still haven’t managed to read all of Julie Anne Long’s Pennyroyal Green series.  I’ve read four or five of the books, and the rest are on my TBR Pile of Doom; I think the series started before I got into romance reading in a big way, and I just haven’t found the time to catch up yet (and this isn’t the only author/series/book that applies to!)

Fortunately for me, though, I get to be in on the ground floor of the author’s latest series, The Palace of Rogues , which opens with Lady Derring Takes a Lover, the story of a young widow who takes a most unusual step in order to support herself after her husband dies and leaves her swimming in debt.  It’s clever, well-written and sharply observed; the author makes a number of very pertinent comments about women’s lack of agency and the expectations placed on them by society during the period at which the book is set, but she does it in a wonderfully subtle way that is never heavy-handed or preachy, which makes her heroine simultaneously refreshingly different and of her time.

Delilah, Countess of Derring, was married off to the much older Earl when she was barely out of the schoolroom.  Her marriage wasn’t happy but wasn’t terrible; her husband wasn’t cruel or abusive, he was just… mostly disinterested.  When he dies and the creditors start circling, Delilah doesn’t know what to do; she only knows she has no intention of dwindling into a ‘poor relation’,  passed from house to house, always a little out of place, a little in the way.

She visits her husband’s solicitor in order to find out if there really is no money for her – and while she’s there, her meeting is interrupted by a striking blonde woman, also in mourning… who turns out to have been the late Earl’s mistress, Angelique Breedlove.

The first sign that Delilah is going to be something of a remarkable heroine is that she actually feels some sort of kinship with the Other Woman and doesn’t freak out at the knowledge of her existence.  In fact, later in the day, they find themselves in the same dingy pub near the docks, and end up sharing a drink… and then agreeing to pool their remaining resources and go into business together.  The only thing Derring left his wife was a building in the East End near the docks, and Delilah has the idea of turning it into a boarding house – The Grand Palace on the Thames – but more than that, she wants to make it somewhere their (hopefully many) guests will feel truly at home, and where she can foster a sense of togetherness and family.

Captain Tristan Hardy is Captain of the King’s Blockade, and has the reputation of having almost single-handedly shut down every smuggling ring operating on and around British shores – except one, and it’s pissing him off royally. He’s currently on the trail of some most unusual and staggeringly expensive cigars he knows are being smuggled into England by the ruthless Blue Rock gang, but has so far been unable to stop their transportation from the coast to London.  His one lead is that the late Earl of Derring used to smoke them exclusively – and Tristan now decides he needs to find the man’s widow to find out what she knows.

This works as the springboard for the romance between Delilah and Tristan, but as a mystery it isn’t particularly compelling.  It’s competently done, but there’s no real sense of urgency about it; Tristan is described as the “King’s attack-dog” a man who will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of answers, yet his investigation into the cigars seems somewhat laissez-faire.

The romance, however, works a great deal better.  Delilah and Tristan are well-matched and their tentative steps towards each other are really well done; she’s never experienced desire or sexual pleasure but is no blushing virgin either, and doesn’t leave Tristan in doubt about her interest in him.  She’s a terrific heroine, one who gives the impression of being naïve and wholesome – people don’t expect her to be funny or to take a stand on things (a mistake even Angelique makes about her) - but really, she’s clever and witty, as well as being incredibly kind, and genuinely wanting to make people feel comfortable and happy.  Tristan is a hard-nosed individual with a job to do; fiercely self-contained, he doesn’t let people know him easily but he simply can’t help being drawn to Delilah, and right from their first, inauspicious meeting, the chemistry between them sizzles.  Like Delilah, he has a dry sense of humour and fun that is unexpected, and the moments he allows that snarky, devilishly teasing side of him out are among the best things about the book.  Their romance is a slow-burn, full of longing glances and slightly risqué flirtatious comments, and it’s simply delicious.

The other relationship in the book – that between Delilah and Angelique – is unusual and superbly done; I don’t think I’ve ever come across anything quite like it before.  Not just because it’s the wife and the mistress, but because it’s two equally strong female characters, albeit from different social strata, with strengths and weaknesses that play off each other and who are bonded through their relationships with – and impoverishment by – the same man.  It’s one of the best, most satisfying female friendships I’ve ever read in a romance novel – but the downside is that they’re so well set-up, and the focus is so firmly on them for the first part of the book that I felt Tristan was rather underdeveloped by comparison.  And following on from that, while Ms. Long does a great job setting up her motley crew of secondary characters and boarding house guests, (Tristan’s relationship with his Lieutenant provided some wonderful insight into his character) I felt some things could have been omitted without diminishing the overall story and that time and page-count could have been spent with Delilah and Tristan.

Those niggles aside, Lady Derring Takes a Lover was a really entertaining read. Delilah is an engaging heroine and I enjoyed her relationship with the pragmatic Angelique very much; and while Tristan is perhaps a little underdeveloped, he’s still a hero worthy of All the Swoons. The set up for the next book has me very intrigued and I’m looking forward to it immensely.

Welcome back to the world of historical romance, Ms. Long.  You have been sorely missed.
Profile Image for Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth.
792 reviews858 followers
February 24, 2019

READ MY REVIEW ON THE BLOG (live on February 26th)

“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."

Profile Image for Sher❤ The Fabulous BookLover.
865 reviews550 followers
March 11, 2019
Solid 3.5 Stars

I love JAL’s books, the humor, her writing and dialogue is what usually makes it a hit read for me, but I just wasn’t as engaged with this story the way I wanted to be. It definitely has that first book in the series syndrome.

But with that said, I’m very excited for book 2!🙌🏽


OMG she's writing historicals again!!!!🙌🏽

Profile Image for Jessica .
2,016 reviews12.8k followers
December 8, 2021
This was a fun historical romance! The heroine's husband dies and she teams up with her husband's mistress and her maid to open a boarding house from the only property she was left by her husband when she realizes her husband was in crippling debt. Tristan is determined to figure out who is smuggling cigars and his investigations lead to the heroine's deceased husband. He decides to rent a room at the boarding house to see if the women running the house are in on it. Of course, Tristan starts falling for Delilah. The people who stay at the boarding house were so fun and I do enjoy a good romance of someone trying to get close to someone else for a purpose and falling for them in the process. I really enjoyed this! There was the mystery of who was smuggling the cigars and, of course, the romance! This was a fun book from Julie Ann Long and I'm excited to read more from her!
Profile Image for Penny Reid.
Author 107 books20.4k followers
January 6, 2022
This book was simply delicious.
I loved everything about it. I loved the set up, the conflict, the characters, the setting, the twists and turns, everything. I loved that I didn't know how it would end. I loved that every character reacted and behaved in believable ways. I loved that these people *felt* like they were of their time rather than modern characters in a historical setting. Julie Anne Long is so funny and clever, I found myself chuckling and laughing out loud several times, and then sighing the next. The lady and her captain gave me those wonderful pangs in my chest that are so difficult to conjure. The hero was a damn delight and the heroine was expertly and perfectly drawn. They were both so loveable and imperfect.
I loved every moment of this wonderful novel and I'm so grateful that this is the beginning of a series! WOOOT!!
Profile Image for Christie«SHBBblogger».
951 reviews1,225 followers
October 28, 2019

Title: Lady Derring Takes a Lover
Series: The Palace of Rogues #1
Author: Julie Anne Long
Release date: February 26, 2019
Cliffhanger: No
Genre: historical romance

This is my first Julie Anne Long book! I know, I know. Where have I been? Thanks to my girl Astrid (once again) I've found another author to faithfully follow in the genre. I think this is going to be the year I fully get back into historical romance because I have been enjoying an amazing run in the past couple of months with them! Julie Anne Long has such a distinct style to her writing that sets her apart from other authors. I was honestly one of the most refreshing discoveries I've had in a long time because of it.

This first book in the Palace of Rogues series centers around Countess Delilah and Captain Tristan Hardy. Delilah has just been widowed and discovers that her husband has been keeping some very important things from her. But then, it doesn't really surprise her, because she's always been treated as if she's just a means to an end. A commodity for other people to make use of, rather than seen for the bright and brave woman she is. First she was auctioned off to the highest bidder to save her family from ruin, and then she was only useful to her husband to produce an heir. Spending so long feeling invisible has made her somewhat bitter towards men, and even though she's in a desperate situation, she can't help but feel like a caged bird who has finally been given its freedom.

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

She has debt collectors knocking at her door to repossess anything they can get their hands on. Her meeting with his solicitor is already grim, and then things sink comically worse when her husband's mistress barges in asking for her share of his estate. To say she was having a bad day would be an understatement. This is where you get the first taste of the heroine's strong character, because not only does she not fall apart, but she seeks out her husband's mistress and invites her to become her partner in a risky business venture.

Lady Derring is the proud new owner of a shabby property in the sketchy part of London, the sole item she gains from her unsatisfactory marriage to a man fifteen years her senior. It may be filthy and neglected, but it's hers. Previously an establishment of questionable morality named the Palace of Rogues, she envisions transforming it to a respectable boarding house called The Grand Palace on the Thames.

That in itself is pretty funny, but they way Delilah always tells everyone, "Here at the Grand Palace on the Thames..." in such a ceremonious way always made me laugh. She so seriously expected people to believe that the boarding house isn't in a crime ridden neighborhood by the docks, but rather an elite place where anyone who is anyone wanted to stay. The rules they concocted to make the place more comfortable for the guests were also hilarious, especially the swear jar and the rules forcing guests to eat and spend time together. Captain Tristan is as taciturn and unsociable as they come, so it was highly entertaining to see him attempting to converse with the quirky characters staying there.

Tristan is an unobtrusive character that sneaks up on you. His droll, dry humor is snarky but not in an in your face kind of way. As a career military man, he's very strictly regimented, staunchly honorable, and self-possessed. Then his playful side comes out by the beautiful Delilah and you see him blooming right before your very eyes. She's able to loosen the tight control over himself that he's held so rigidly for his entire life. He isn't the type to reveal what he's feeling, so when she earns a tilted smile or a slip in his composure it's meaningful. When he'd devilishly tease her in that subtle sarcastic way of his, I couldn't get enough.

“I don’t suppose you often lose at anything, Captain Hardy.”
“Not since that one time, lo these many years ago.”

“You and I are very alike, I think, Captain Hardy.”
“Ah. Does your beard begin to darken at about five o’clock, too?”

The romance is a slow burn build. I'm definitely a fan of that because the tension and chemistry hold a lot of heat when they're forced to simmer. These two had a fantastic burn that built in intensity in a way that I wasn't expecting. They're all about the teasing, hot glances, and daring comments that make the other just a little weak-kneed. Though it did take a while to surface, you did see the attraction and her effect on him immediately. And he's totally incapable of understanding the unfamiliar feelings he stirs because he's never had that type of reaction to a woman before. She makes him feel out of control and way out of his comfort zone.

I loved all of the characters, even Angelique. She and Delilah built an unlikely friendship, and they were very much opposites in personality, but they also felt a bond because of how they'd been wronged by the men they loved. The boardinghouse was their opportunity to stand on their own two feet and work for their independence so they'd never have to be dependent on anyone ever again. Delilah's lingering naivety and desire to see the world through a rose colored glasses was in direct contrast to Angelique's cynical and distrustful nature. Though she wasn't unkind, she hadn't been as sheltered as her friend, and she'd experienced a world of heartache. I'm very excited to read her book after meeting her hero at the end of the story!

There was a little mystery involved which I thought was well done. As the Captain works in secret to ferret out the criminal he's hunting, he realizes that the end of his investigation could break sweet Delilah in ways he didn't intend. I loved this one so much! I only shaved a bit off my rating because it did take me a little while to engage in the beginning and get sucked in. It was far from boring, but it did feel a little slow and that's somewhat expected with the first in a series. Also, I would have liked to learn more about his past because we only learned the bare minimum, and I was expecting him to open up and reveal more about himself. Overall, I loved Tristan and Delilah together and he even showed a romantic side in the end that I had no idea he had in him. If you're looking for a new HR series to follow, give this one a shot! I'll definitely be reading the next installment as well as exploring her backlist as soon as I can.

Never had pleasure so owned him. So fully consumed him. Never had it so thoroughly relieved him, if momentarily, of the burden of being himself, the man who held up the world.



Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,855 reviews1,496 followers
May 5, 2019
This was an interesting story that mostly worked. I loved Delilah pretty much from the start. She finds herself penniless after her husband dies and I loved how determined she is and resourceful and courageous. I particularly liked her efforts to create a family from those willing to stick with her—including her husband's equally-destitute mistress. Seriously, the friendship between her and Angelique was outstanding and the secondary cast of mismatched characters was delightful.

The mystery at the heart of the story was weak tea with lamesauce. But since I didn't really consider this a mystery I didn't really care that much. Tristan was a harder weakness to overlook. He's not awful, or anything. He's just very much the stoic self-made man with a dedication to doooty that drives him to be hard. And successful. And ruthless. And suspicious. And junk. I'd have liked this story much better if there had been any hint of his softening through the course of the story as he gets to know Delilah. But the author saves it all up for a major transformation at the end and I found that much less engaging. His transformation was gorgeous, don't get me wrong. And his tortured poem at the end was simply perfect.

So I ended up liking this story very well. I loved the little band of congenial misfits and Delilah is a delight. So this is a solid four star read for me and I look forward to more in this series.

A note about Steamy: There are two explicit sex scenes putting this in the middle of my steam tolerance. I wish they had been better integrated into the emotional arc of the characters/story, but no. Sadly.
Profile Image for Merry .
523 reviews43 followers
May 4, 2022
I read this book and just enjoyed it. The characters developed friendships. The H/h respected and enjoyed each other's company and listened. Deliah is widowed and penniless and opens a boarding house The Grand Palace on the Thames. Tristan is an honest man who is out to catch smuggles and goes to the boarding house to investigate. I just enjoyed the romance and the respect of reading about good people. The ending just grabbed me.
Profile Image for Addie H.
485 reviews218 followers
September 21, 2020
On Kindle sale today 21st Sept 2020 for USD 1.99

(Tropes: Widow, Riches to Rags, Opposites Attract, Class Difference, Unstarched (heroine)


Julie Ann Long is always a bit hit or miss for me – or rather super-hit or super-miss – so I started this a little sceptic. But it’s without a doubt in historicals JAL shines.

- “What brings you back to The Grand Palace on the Thames, Captain Hardy?”
His small, intimate smile removed the bones from her knees.
“So you do remember me, Lady Derring.”
She ignored the smile and remembered that her blood was blue, even if keys jingled at her hips now.


Quick plot: After her husband has died, all that is left to Lady Delilah is a derelict building down by the docks and no money. As a solution she joins forces with her husband’s mistress, Angelique, and they open a boarding house to make a living. It attracts all kinds of characters, and Captain Tristan Hardy unsettles Delilah in ways she has never experienced.


I love how Delilah grabs a bad situation and really turns it around, slowly discovering strengths and weaknesses she has never known she possessed.

While she doesn’t meet Tristian until the 20% (which is really a bit late if you ask me), their interaction is fantastic.

- He paused in the doorway. “Perhaps a rag affixed to a pole or a mop would help with the top of the window. And perhaps it would be wise to lock the door behind me.”
She cast a glance over her shoulder again. “Thank you, sir. I should never have worked any of that out on my own. Thank goodness a man came along.”
He closed the door gently behind him. If he was not mistaken, she’d just taken the piss out of him.

- She could not recall ever before meeting a man who reverberated after he was gone. She wasn’t certain it was entirely pleasant; she did not like the realization that her senses could be so easily overcome without her permission, because she didn’t like being reminded of vulnerabilities. But she was also oddly regretful, as if a stirring piece of music had been interrupted.

- Drinking, spitting, or smoking will not be tolerated in the drawing room when ladies are present, and rough language will be fined one pence per word. We’ve a jar, you see.”
“A jar.” He said this with every evidence of fascination.
“But we also have a withdrawing room for gentlemen, in which they can unleash their baser impulses in case the effort of restraint becomes too much to bear.”
Lady Derring was very dry.
“What a relief to hear. Tethering instincts wears a devil out.”

- (Angelique) “Well, did it work? Did Captain Hardy emerge from his shell like a vulnerable, fluffy baby chicken?”
Delilah was reeling as if she’d run headlong into a wall. “I mentioned childbirth,” she said dazedly. “Quite irritably. And I don’t quite remember why.”

- “It’s just that he’s so very irritating,” she said rather vehemently, in a low voice. “One wants to combat his certainty.”
(Angelique) “You do. I don’t. I know better. And by irritating I think you mean desirable in a frightening way.”
“Nonsense.” It was exactly what she meant.

- “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.”
“Well, Captain Hardy, I must take issue with your assessment, on the grounds that I’m not trying to disguise it at all.”
Holy—! His breath left him in a gust.

- His fingers traced the pulse in her throat. He let his breath play over her skin as he whispered, “Imagine how you feel now . . . and multiply it by a thousand. That’s how it would be.”
He stepped back. “Because you’ll have to imagine, you see, as we agreed we shouldn’t do anything about it.”


I do wish they had spent more pages together, because the book does focus on a lot of the other characters and a smuggling plot.

Still, I got heavily invested in this boarding house, its’ lovely atmosphere, quirky characters and Delilah’s relationship and contrast to her partner Angelique (book 2).


- A few moments later, he said, “Massey?”
“Yes, sir?” “How did you, er, know?”
Massey’s brow furrowed. “Know, sir?” And then something in Tristan’s expression, in his demeanor, made it clear. “Ah! Know. Well. That I loved her?”
Tristan held very still. Didn’t Massey know the word love belonged in a class with words like grenade or typhoon? It was not to be bandied about lightly.

3.5 - 4 stars
Profile Image for Starr (AKA Starrfish) Rivers.
898 reviews260 followers
October 30, 2019
Unfortunately, despite the gorgeous writing (see all the highlights I have!) I will have to give this book 3.5 starts rounded down to 3. Good writing doesn’t always win the day after all.

Now, Julie Anne Long is one of my very favorite if not THE favorite HR author’s, and I’ve been breathless with anticipation for her latest HR release. (I enjoyed her contemporary roms but not nearly as much. None of them would be 5 stars for me). So a 3.5 might also be related to the fact that I have higher standards for Ms. Long. Compared to Devil's Daughter this was 5 stars.

Why 1.5 stars off?


1. This novel had an excess of tense shifts to present tense in the first 50-60% of the novel. It’s a stylistic device and in this case very over-used. And annoying.it wasn’t seamless with the rest of the novel which is 3rd person past tense. Once in a blue moon u might do that in a novel like this but u wouldn’t do it soooo many times as to be obnoxious. And then it stopped altogether for the last 40%.


2. Which brings me to my second point: it’s like this book or the author couldn’t decide what it wanted to be, a historical romance or a historical mystery. The first 50% (and certainly 30%) we barely see the H. For the amount of air/ page time Angelica got, u would have thought this was going to be a f/f book. There was some build up about the mystery of the cigars that were getting smuggled.

And then BAM! By 50% this book became a regular HR. Mystery in the background, nobody could care less, and it’s all tension and attraction between the MCs who FINALLY meet somewhere AFTER 30-40%. I felt very torn. Literally. For the first half I wanted romance, and just when I resolved myself to settle in for a diff sort of book, the romance comes and the mystery fizzles to nothingness.


So the conclusion is that I was satisfied nowhere. Yes the ending scenes were good. Great HEA, but the cigar smuggling resolution was like a whoopee cushion releasing air. VERY DISAPPOINTED!!!

3. You can do better JAL! The writing is so lovely. The MCs are likable. I enjoyed almost all the characters. But the PLOT! You were just two-headed and it showed!


I might read the next one. Since I already met the H at the end of this one. And so has Angelique. But in the next book, please let them be center stage ASAP!! Don’t go on about a flat mystery for 30-40% before going full speed ahead on a romance I beg you!
Profile Image for Blackjack.
414 reviews133 followers
September 26, 2022
4.5 - A-

I did not realize how much I missed Julie Anne Long's historical romances until I read this first book in her new The Palace of Rogue series. While it's not my absolute favorite book from her, it is really good, just flat out fun to read, and offers a peek into what promises to be a fabulous series.

Delilah Derring has spent her young life raised to be a trophy wife to a rich man. Shuffled from her father's home to her new husband's home, she has absorbed the lessons young women are taught, which is that their looks and meek manner are all that's needed to succeed in the world. The sudden death of her cad of a husband and the immediate discovery that he has left her indebted, except for an abandoned building on the waterfront, moves her toward a sharp evaluation of who she is and what future she might have. The entrance of Angelique, her husband's mistress, allows her for the first time in her life to forge a genuine friendship with a woman, and their relationship changes Delilah's outlook on life dramatically. She may not need a man to survive or even to be happy, and by making use of the abandoned building as her only resource, she discovers that even "family" can be manufactured. The motley crew of people coming and going from the boardinghouse makes up a good part of the fun of this book, and Delilah and Angelique are able to use their skills to create a home in the unfriendliest of places.

Tristan Hardy, the hero of the story, enters a bit later than most traditional romances, but given the emphasis on women succeeding in life without male oversight, it seems fitting that Tristan is initially de-centered. Once he makes his entrance at the boardinghouse though, he is just as fascinating as Delilah and Angelique. Tristan's story represents the mystery of the abandoned building since he works on behalf of the British crown to investigate gang activities. Initially wary of the paradox of women creating a warm and hospital boardinghouse on the docks, he is won over by Delilah's goodness and trust in humanity. And though he is amused by Delilah's earnest proclamation at least once per each chapter that the home is entitled The Grand Palace on the Thames, it's not long before Tristan soon finds himself correcting others on the building's name as a sign of his downfall and growing love and respect for Delilah.

The book is filled with yearning and flirting between Delilah and Tristan as only JAL can do it, and though the conflict around Tristan's secret purpose represents the central conflict to a romance between the two, the resolution is very satisfying. I did wish for a few more scenes earlier between the two as their transition from flirtation to lovers came a bit quickly. I think an additional couple of chapters would have helped in this respect. Still, this is a lovely first book in a series that I hope will be around for a long time. And, oh my gosh, does it end with a cliffhanger for Angelique's upcoming book.
Profile Image for Sam (AMNReader).
1,227 reviews261 followers
January 3, 2021
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
Profile Image for Mei.
1,879 reviews404 followers
March 12, 2019
Very nice!

I liked the idea of wife and her late husband's lover joining forces to survive in the men's world! Well done!

I liked also how little things were introduced to make lighter the otherwise difficult moment in both women's lives! Like the maid, Dot! Or like the rules they have for the guests of the boardinghouse!

The romance between Delilah and Tristan was credible and their banter was great! I just could see them!

What I didn't find particularely interesting was the mystery about cigar smuggling.

The edn got me intrgued very much and now I'm looking forward to Angelique and the mysterious man's story! ;-)
Profile Image for Ursula.
584 reviews137 followers
October 30, 2019
This was everything an HR should be: subtle, charming, moving, sensual and witty.

When Lady Delilah Derring is widowed, she discovers that she is not the only one who has been left penniless and alone, as she discovers her husband’s estate was ruined. His mistress is also in a similar position, and the two women have the misfortune (or so she believes it to be, initially) to meet at the solicitor’s office where he has unctuously just informed her of her impecunious state. Her shock at there even being a mistress is tempered by a feeling of kinship, and when the women run into each other at an inn next to the only piece of property Delilah has been left with- a run-down former brothel on the docks- they begin an unlikely partnership. How refreshing to see them work together, instead of fighting over a man who was never worth it in the first place!

Firstly, I had to leave my prejudices at the door. I don’t normally enjoy books about mistresses, as the power imbalance always makes me cross. In this case, both women are intelligent, sensitive people who have been battered by life and are determined to bounce back. Most of all, they plan to do it without a man. Having learned the hard way that a woman should not depend on a man, because he will invariably fail them, they turn the building into a boarding house and work hard to make the business a success.
At the same time, the handsome but hardened Captain Hardy is hunting the smuggling gang that caused the death of a whole family, when they burnt down the family’s house. This, all because the father refused to allow them to use his property for their smuggling activities.

I have to say, the slow burn and sexual tension in this story was masterful. The contrast between this and a lot of CR, which is often all about the ONS and the determination to “hand in the V-card” (What the hell are these authors thinking- even the expression “V-card” is repugnant) is stark. And welcome.

Delilah and her friend Angelique’s relationship had an intriguing dynamic, with the cynical and disillusioned Angelique a foil for the more tender-hearted, kinder Delilah. Make no mistake, Delilah was not weak or bland. In many ways, she was fierce and passionate, even tough when required to be. Both she and Hardy longed for a place to call Home, for a family. Hardy refused to think of it initially, clashing as it did with what had always been his purpose in life. Delilah could not afford to think of it, now that she was no longer a lady but rather, the proprietress of a boarding house on the docks. She was determined to finally be true to herself and not beholden to any man for her happiness. After all, look how well that turned out last time.

The two main characters are wonderfully complex. It was marvellous to read about a man who had finer feelings and a depth to his thinking that went beyond where to stick his penis. There were moments of great humour (I actually laughed out loud several times during reading, and that has not happened in a while) and the minor characters were lovingly drawn. I wiped away a quiet tear and struggled through the emotions tingling in my chest. And I smiled for the pair and their HEA.

I have read most of JAL’s work, and have enjoyed much of it, but this book was a stand-out for me. How these two damaged, lonely, people find their Home in each other was truly moving. I warmly recommend it for lovers of high-quality HR. You won’t be disappointed.

Profile Image for zsyree.
84 reviews29 followers
September 1, 2022
Rating: 4 Stars

Lady Derring Takes a Lover is my first Julie Anne Long book and I'm sure to read the other books by this author. JAL's writing is sublime and this book has everything: humor, romance, found family, mystery and interesting and lovely characters.

The book begins with the death of Lady Derring's husband and discovering that he left her a mountain of debt and an abandoned building near the docks. Delilah Swanpoole also met her husband’s mistress, Mrs. Angelique Breedlove. But in the grand ruins of the one building Derring left her, Delilah forged a friendship with her dead husband’s mistress and they both vowed never again to place themselves at the mercy of a man.

I really enjoyed my first JAL book. I love the friendship that blossomed between Delilah and Angelique and even if they had arguments over the course of the book, Angelique’s protectiveness of Delilah especially when it came to Captain Tristan Hardy was especially endearing. The secondary characters were also very interesting and I love the mystery involved in the story.

While I’m a fan of slow-burn romance, this book felt too slow even for me. The focus on Delilah and Tristan’s romance only picked up around 50% of the story. The first half was focused on Delilah and the guests at her boarding house which might turn-off some readers. I wished there were more chapters though that highlighted Delilah and Tristan’s romance. But I still can’t get over the confrontation between the hero and the heroine and the way they expressed their love for one another. I thought that was really romantic.

That ending left me hanging and I'm looking forward to reading Angelique's story and the rest of the books in the series.
Profile Image for Lady Wesley.
924 reviews311 followers
January 5, 2021
It’s great to have JAL back in HR Land. She does Romance so very well that I forgive the occasional History flubs. Delilah and Tristan’s romance was lots of fun; the mystery that brings them together was mildly interesting, and the possibilities for adding to this series are endless. Pennyroyal Green lasted ten years, so perhaps Palace of Rogues will have a similarly long run.

Justine Eyre is a competent narrator but not my favorite. Her main weakness is performing male voices, but overall I enjoy her audiobooks.

In fact, the cliffhanger epilogue inspired me to download the next book.
715 reviews294 followers
March 1, 2019
Yay, she's back! Julie Anne Long took a break from historical romances after finishing up her Pennyroyal Green series in 2015 and ventured into contemporary romance, relatively successfully. But I prefer HRs and have always been fond of the way JAL writes romance. You can feel the chemistry between H and h and the attraction and relationship build rather slowly, the way I like it.

This is the start to a new HR series and began as a 5-star book for me. How can you not love a story that begins with the development of friendship between a young widow and her late husband's mistress? Especially when written cleverly by Long.

Delilah Swanpoole, Countess of Derring, hadn't exactly loved her husband, but she had been living what she thought was a safe, comfortable life. Then he up and dies, leaving her penniless and with nothing but a derelict old building by the docks. As she goes to check on that "inheritance", she accidentally meets up with Angelique Breedlove, who she learns was her husband's mistress and whom he has also left in financial straits. What to do, when they discover themselves simpatico, but go into business together and convert that old building into a boardinghouse to be named The Grand Palace on the Thames.

The budding friendship is great. I may have been even fonder of the female bonding in this book than of the romance between H and h. At first acquaintance, at the pub next door to Delilah's inheritance, they drink glasses of sherry, toasting the memory of "dear, dull, dead Derring." Long's clever descriptive turns of phrase show up often. For example, when Delilah and Angelique are just beginning to get to know each other, "Mrs. Breedlove tipped her head and studied Delilah as if she were a cunning little jewel box and she'd just noticed she had a hidden compartment."

I thoroughly enjoyed the relationships of Delilah, Angelique and Delilah's amusingly incompetent maid Dot as they prepare the building to serve as a boardinghouse. Delilah is somewhat naive and innocent, having lived a more sheltered life, first with her family, and then married to an earl, and Angelique more worldly-wise and sophisticated. But Delilah notes that Angelique "might be sophisticated and clever and jaded but...acquired her polish the way gems in a tumbler do." Yes, she's been knocked around a bit by life.

Both women have reached the conclusion that they would be much better off on their own, with nary a man in their lives. The late Earl of Derring is revealed to be a sorry sort and a real dud as a husband and as a lover. And Angelique has had even more disappointments from the various men in her life. So they create a cozy, comfortable place for themselves and for the many (they hope) guests who will pay to stay at The Grand Palace on the Thames. It will be a boardinghouse with rules, among them (1) four meals a week with all guests together to make sure everyone meets everyone else, (2) no "entertaining" anyone of the opposite sex alone in one's rented room, and (3) no swearing, with a swear jar to enforce this rule. Almost like a family.

The guests only trickle in, unfortunately. But among the few who sign on are two strange, shy sisters, a traveling salesman, and our hero, Captain Tristan Hardy. Captain Hardy is there to investigate a smuggling ring which he suspects has a connection to this boardinghouse, especially considering that the late Earl of Derring had been under suspicion. Is Delilah continuing Derring's possible illegal activities? But whether or not Tristan suspects Delilah of wrongdoing, he can't help but be attracted to her.

And so it goes. The romance is lovely but not the best JAL has ever done. The mystery about the smuggling is not particularly compelling, a few of the characters who come to stay at the Palace left me wondering why they had been included, but the various personal relationships (Delilah-Angelique, Delilah-Dot, Delilah-Tristan, and Tristan and his cohort Massey) and Long's writing skills were enough to convince me to round my 3.5 stars to 4.
Profile Image for Jultri.
1,056 reviews7 followers
March 7, 2019
JAL's long awaited return to HR with book one of a brand new series. Did it thrill me? No, not quite but neither was I too disappointed. She spends time setting up the stage for her series and hence it was expected that the main characters and plotline in this book would be compromised somewhat.

The introductory chapters of this book were enjoyable as we meet two strong female characters in the heroine, the newly widowed Lady Delilah Derring, and her husband's mistress, Angelique Breedlove(!). From their first encounter at the late Lord Derring's solicitor's office, these two intelligent women manage to maintain their dignity and keep their heads held high in the face of the indignity of learning the same worthless man had cheated them of their material possessions, after both devoting years catering for his needs. And so they decide to join forces and modest purses in order to forge a future without dependency on another man. Yeah, sisters are doin' it for themselves! Love that! They fix up the run down building near the docks, the only property left to Delilah by her spendthrift husband, converting it to a boarding house with their meagre money and the aid of a lovable but clumsy maid, Dot. Much to their dismay, their Grand Palace by the Thames only manages to attract a few guests, mismatched oddities from different parts of society. Much to Delilah's dismay, one of the guests includes the arrogant and way too handsome Captain Tristan Hardy who sees too much with his sharp eyes and whose teasing taunts seem to bring out the worst in her.

Tristan is the Captain for the King's Blockade, assigned to hunt down smugglers of contraband. He has tracked the trail of the last cigar smugglers to the building owned by Delilah and so decides to infiltrate it in order to sniff out the criminals. His instant attraction to Delilah is an inconvenient complication, but he has never let distractions sideline his duties to his King. Only Delilah proves to be more than a distraction, especially when she reciprocates his feelings of lust.

I was really not too keen on Delilah commencing an affair with one of her guests within days of meeting, especially when she so clearly and proudly emphasised her written rules about guests maintaining propriety while staying there. Not only was it dreadfully hypocritical but also a great risk to her and the reputation of her fledgling business. Why jeopardise what she had set up in order to gain freedom from men and then throws herself heedlessly into the path of the first handsome one she sees? In addition, I thought the banter between Delilah and Tristan lacked that sparkly wit that JAL is famous for. Delilah was a bit too gullible. She wore her heart on her sleeve, confiding in Tristan details about her marriage when he was still a veritable stranger - albeit one who had already kissed her within a matter of a few days after they first met. I did like Tristan more and I adored Dot, the very excitable loyal maid. I'm a bit nervous about Angelique as the heroine in the next book. She seems too harsh and cynical and I've never been too fond of the courtesan turned heroine trope.

She was beginning to like the truth, though, like sherry and cursing, she suspected it was probably best to be judicious in the partaking and delivery of it.

And it wasn’t as though a part of her didn’t feel a bit of a tug toward everything she’d been taught. But it was the sort of tug a rose must feel when trained up a trellis. The trellis had crumbled. She could grow how she pleased.
Profile Image for Jan.
860 reviews161 followers
March 2, 2019
3 to 3.5 stars. I was excited to read a new Julie Anne Long HR, and first in a new series too. But I was a little disappointed once I actually read it. Some magical something seemed to be missing from the book. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't wonderful for me, either.

The setup is decent. I felt for both Lady Derring and her offsider Mrs Breedlove at the start of the book. The Palace of Rogues is a good concept to build a book and a series on. I liked Captain Hardy, and I didn't mind that he's not of the 'gentleman' class. The smuggling mystery was OK as a plot device, and not hard for readers to pretty much solve on their own. It was certainly all over very very quickly once we got to that point - almost too easy and abrupt, actually.

Perhaps it was the characterisations that were a little flat for me. Both H and h felt a little two-dimensional. I wanted to like them more, but I felt like I didn't know them that well. The romance seemed to lack some fire or chemistry. On the page, the right words seemed to be there, but somehow it didn't totally succeed for me. Hard to pin down. A bit like watching a rom-com movie with a good script and decent actors, but somehow it's missing the vital chemistry between the two lead actors.

At around 3/4 through the book I almost gave up. Things had slowed right down and I wasn't really feelin' it. But come on, this is JAL. So I kept going, and it did pick up a bit. The ending is a setup for book 2, which might be good. I'm just hoping the next book has better chemistry between H and h.

Profile Image for Chloe Liese.
Author 18 books5,690 followers
December 9, 2021
Oh, hi, it's me again, and yes I loved another Julie Anne Long book. Surprise! JAL writes some of the best character-driven romance—historical or contemporary—out there, and Lady Derring Takes a Lover was no exception. Tristan and Delilah were nuanced, 3-dimensional people whose backstories, wounds, fears, and hopes were richly developed and so easy to sympathize with and love them for. Their chemistry was HOTTTT and the delightful ensemble cast of guests and staff at The Grand Palace on the Thames that we're introduced to felt like friends by the time I finished reading.

Thankfully, while I'm reading out of order, I still have Angelique's story left and I can't wait to see the man who finally convinces her to take a risk on love and romance once again!
Profile Image for HR-ML.
1,056 reviews37 followers
August 4, 2021
Regency. 3 romances.

Tristan was orphaned at age 8 in seedy St. Giles & worked
his way up to become a Royal Navy Captain. He now served
as blockade commander, charged with catching smugglers.
He had no room for sentiment or tender feelings. Delilah's
late spouse, an earl, left her in debt. Del & the earl's mistress
Angelique, pooled their funds to open a building (near the
docks) left to Del, which they transformed into a boarding

This story had wit, heart and love. And 2 other romances:
Sgt. Massey (hero's subordinate) + his sweet (readers finally
met her later) and a 3rd man + his sweet.

Once again Ms Long wrote a clever, winning story! Kudos
to the heroine helping the unyielding, all-business, hero
bend a little.
Profile Image for Lover of Romance.
2,702 reviews779 followers
February 28, 2019
This review was originally posted on Addicted To RomanceI received this book for free from Avon in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Lady Derring Takes A Lover is the first book in her latest series “Palace of Rogues” and I am so happy that Julie Anne Long is coming back to historical romance. She just does fabulous work in writing historical romance, especially since she does a decent job with the dialogue and setting up the regency. I was curious how her new series would go and how she would introduce us to this new series and I was pleasantly delighted with this book and even though it wasn’t quite the full page turner I was expecting, it was a fun read and I had a blast with Lady Derring Takes A Lover.

Lady Derring Takes A Lover, when our heroine, Delilah, the Countess of Derring’s husband dies, and she learns that her husband was in deep debt that she didn’t know about and she is now destitute except for a handful of jewelry and a building near the docks. Delilah, knows that her whole life has changed and she will have to be creative in order to survive. While on her way to the only building she owns, she runs into a woman she doesn’t know, but admires after having a conversation with….her husband’s mistress. They decide to join forces and create a boarding house, she has a dream to create a haven for those coming into London from the docks and even though it could be a better neighborhood, she is determined to make a success of it.

Then we bring in our hero, Captain Tristan Hardy, who is on a mission, to discover if Lady Derring is innocent of her husband’s crimes and to figure out what Lord Derring was up to with the secretive shipments of cigars so he goes to the boardinghouse that Lady Derring is showing, takes a room and works undercover to find out the truth behind the building and behind the mystery of Lady Delilah Derring. But as he gets close to the truth their relationship turns into something more than just a business deal and secrets could destroy the fragile trust between them.

This book was simply delightful and I enjoyed every moment. I have to say that the one aspect of this Long’s writing is her sexy bantering that she displays. I just love seeing what she has done here and so well done for sure. It was very interesting to see the series set up as a boardinghouse on the London Docks. I am not sure how realistic that is, but it was written very well so it did work for me. It was fascinating to see Tristan and Delilah come together and yes Tristan has a lot of secrets including his work for the foreign office. Now of course, there are secrets so you know that there will be backlash from that especially since its the scenario where the secret is dragged out. I wasn’t a big fan of this happening, but this author made it work without having it drive me crazy and I have to say that Tristan does a great job in his grovel in the end, PERFECTO!! I got all sorts of good feels seeing this story wrap up so nicely and we get a lovely teaser for the second book, so you do have some great things to look forward to here.

I adored the romance that builds between Tristan and Delilah. Its not a perfect romance by any means, but its quite enjoyable and highly entertaining. I love how well these two get along in and out of bed. Their characters are very charismatic in different ways so I loved seeing how they make a relationship work. It has a whole bunch of give and take that occur between them before they find the balance they need in their relationship. I do want to mention that the chemistry between these two are explosive, my goodness, this author knows how to write sexual chemistry and does it so well so that it doesn’t overtake the relationship. We also have a fun mystery about Lord Derring and this mysterious house on the docks.

Overall I found Lady Derring Finds A Lover to be a stimulating, sensual and empowering romance!! A SEXY ROMANCE TO DELIGHT IN!

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Profile Image for Beanbag Love.
565 reviews246 followers
March 14, 2019
Actually 3.5 but I'll round up for love of JAL.

This one had a similar feel to Long's "It Started with a Scandal" where the love interests low key dance around each other as the sexual/romantic tension builds. That book was incredibly successful in that effort and it's one of my favorites of the Pennyroyal Green series. The tension between those two leads crackles (what a 'historical romance' way to say it, but it's true) while the tension in this one felt repetitive and needlessly frustrating.

Delilah, Lady Derring, is recently widowed, her husband leaving her financially destitute. The only thing he actually owned that can be passed on to her is a building by the docks. She decides to create a boarding house with it and she manages to make that a very positive effort. She is a lovely character and I really liked her kindness.

Capt. Tristan Hardy was born in St. Giles, joined the crew of a ship at 10 years old and worked his way into being one of the top criminal investigators to the king himself. He's an interesting and appealing character, but I wish he had more action. He's been tasked with finding and bringing to justice a gang of cigar smugglers.

Why would the king care about cigar smuggling? Because in the course of their misdeeds, the gang managed to murder a husband, wife and their two children by setting fire to their home while they were in it. This would make for a good, stressful backdrop for the romance and the story arc, you'd think. But it doesn't and I'm trying to figure out why it doesn't feel more urgent. The only thing I can come up with is that all Tristan seems to be thinking about is cigars. It's easy to forget that there is a family that has been murdered. This is not some goofball, cigar smuggling operation, this is a vicious gang of murderous thugs. That, I think, should have been at the forefront of this thoughts. The idea that Delilah and her guests could be in imminent danger.

I'm not sure why the slow flame of "It Started with a Scandal" worked so well for me while this one fell a bit flat until the last 20%. But this last 20% is where the story really comes together and cemented me as a reader of this series. It was poignant and funny and romantic. Classic JAL. It just took a while to get there for me. YMMV.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,671 reviews702 followers
February 23, 2019
4.5 stars

I’m always eager to find the start of a new series from a new to me author and this one didn’t disappoint.

I loved Delilah and Tristan. She’s so open and optimistic and he’s so gruff and realistic. Together they have excellent conversation and flirty banter and the best chemistry. I truly enjoyed reading them get to know each other. I’m also loving Angelique and hoping hoping hoping the next book is hers.

Plot wise it was a bit slow moving. There’s a good amount of things to build up and put into place and while it was necessary, it got boring. I wanted loads of conversation and at some points there were pages and pages of inner monologue.

Overall, it was these characters that kept me entertained and a grand gesture that could be the best I’ve ever read. I can’t wait to see what’s next in the series.

**Huge thanks to Avon Books for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for PlotTrysts.
523 reviews146 followers
July 26, 2021
We love wives and mistresses who join forces. Here, they start a boarding house and create a found family together with their servants and customers. The book features an ever-expanding cast of secondary characters who lodge at the boarding house (a snake oil salesman, two spinster sisters, a young couple, and an undercover excise officer) in addition to a believably charming romance. With sly humor and two romantic leads who can't resist each other, the book is a joy to read!

5-Word Summaries:

Meg: Bittersweet widow meets taciturn captain.

Laine: Former brothels are great hotels.
Profile Image for kris.
933 reviews179 followers
April 29, 2019
I received this book via a Goodreads Giveaway.

Delilah Swanpoole, Countess of Derring, inherits a building upon her husband's demise. Teaming up with his equally destitute mistress, Angelique Breedlove, they decide to open a boarding house and forgo men entirely. Then Captain Tristan Hardy shows up to let a room because SMUGGLERS or something and his thighs make Delilah feel tingles in her thingles!!!

1. This was: (a) an interesting setup novel; (b) a poorly done mystery; (c) a GREAT friendship story; and (d) a rather disappointing romance.

1.a. The Grand Palace on the Thames seems like an interesting premise, although I am not that intrigued by the ~mystery of its history. Rather, I like it as a housing agent for discordant characters who would otherwise not necessarily interact or engage with one another in such an immediate fashion. I also like that it allows for a greater strata of society to be present in the story rather than just those who might be present at the other trope-y settings used in period romances.

1.b. The smuggling nonsense was nonsense.

1.c. I honestly did not see the amazing development and handling of Angelique and Delilah's burgeoning friendship coming and it was a delight. It did seem to fall away slightly once Tristan's dick entered the story, but what was on page was honest and engaging and so much better done than so many other attempts.

1.d. I mean, there's lust and then ~~~feelings and also a blow job that changes hearts or something...I don't know: standard romance fair, short-sheeted by the multitude of other plots happening in the story and so therefore, just...fine. Standard, generic and rather dull.

2. All that said: I did like Delilah for the most part. A heroine doing her best to be honest is something I resonated with so I found myself really enjoying her presence on the page.

3. I hope that Dot gets her own happy ever after! She's a DELIGHT.

4. Honestly, I'm already forgetting everything that wasn't Delilah's joy in building a found family and her growing respect/relationship with Angelique because it was GREAT.

5. Side note: I hope there is more to Fran, the reading barkeep, then we get here because that premise sounds neat.
Profile Image for Jessica.
119 reviews4 followers
September 18, 2020
4. This book was relentlessly charming! The relationship between Lady Derring and Mrs. Breedlove is so satisfying, and I love how they take on the world together. I have no doubt 1800s England abounded with creative, scrappy women who managed to make their way in the face of literally every possible social obstacle. The romance with Captain Hardy was well done although it didn’t shine as brightly as some of the other connections, in spite of the S-E-X. Not my fave Julie Ann Long but even her B sides are STILL pretty awesome.
Profile Image for Dagmar.
178 reviews32 followers
August 13, 2022
Captain Tristan Hardy is your new BBF!!📚

Series highly recommended by a friend. My first Julie Anne Long book and I absolutely loved it! Excellent writing, palpable delicious slow burn, witty and wonderful characters, intriguing story, unputdownable, lots of heart.
Will definitely continue with the series...can't wait
Profile Image for Teresa (Reads_Romance).
288 reviews295 followers
May 13, 2019
I am trying to find the right words to express why this book delighted me so much. LADY DERRING TAKES A LOVER took me by surprise because, honestly, I was dazzled, and that doesn’t happen to me very often anymore, especially with the start of a new series. This was my first book by Julie Anne Long and I can’t believe I slept on her stories for so long!

From page one I was wholly invested in Delilah (Lady Derring) and her personal journey. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, because it would spoil part of the fun of this book, which is how Delilah picks up the pieces of a shattered life. Let me just say, this book is full of girl power and women supporting women and it was all done within a (mostly) believable for the time period frame.

The absolute best part of this story was the banter! It brought me back to classic Amanda Quick novels (one of the highest compliments I can give a book!). The humor was dry, sarcastic, and had me actually yelling, “BURN” a few times. I can’t count the number of times I laughed out loud. The dialogue flowed effortlessly and at no time did the story drag.

Now on to the romance/hero. Where can I find my own Captain Tristan Hardy? He was mature, he was arrogant, he was slightly stuffy at times but had a wicked sense of humor, but best of all: he only melted his icy exterior for the heroine. I felt like Tristan and Delilah just couldn’t stay away from each other and it delighted me to no end.

Overall, I highly, highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a fun and fast-paced historical romance and the start to what I am sure will be one of my favorite new series of 2019. I can’t wait to see where JAL takes us from here!

**I received an ARC of this book in order to provide an honest review**

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