Release Date: Oct 29, 2019
Series: The Palace of Rogues
Heat Level: Hot
Imprint: Avon Books
I enjoyed this read from Julie Anne Long. She always does a really good job with Historical romance and rarely do I find myself disappointed. In her latest, I was pleasantly surprised. Both hero and heroine felt like they went against the grain of what I’ve typically read from Long.
We have her heroine Angelique Breedlove, who is a former mistress and now one of the proprietor’s of The Grand Palace on the Thames. She’s got a lot of internal struggle and is aware that loving men will ultimately lead to ruin. In fact, at the start of the story I would say Angelique is a straight up man hater, or at least hates those who attempt flirtations with her. With the arrival of a new boarder at her place of business she finds herself attracted inconveniently to another man again. Except this one is playing by all the rules she throws at him.
Our hero Lord Bolt is a nobleman’s bastard. An interesting combination seeing as how most bastards do not have titles, but this one does because his father, a Duke, convinced the Prince to give Lord Bolt one as a child. Only downfall is he’s notorious, always a subject of gossip, and is supposed to be dead. Cue the arrival of a man who survived attempted murder and is back for revenge. Though a maddening woman starts making him question everything.
These two characters external goals are in perfect opposition to one another, Lord Bolt wanting to gain attention and Angelique preferring to never be an object of attention again. In the same vein they share a lot of similarities from being neglected/abandoned by parents and shunned for their choices/mishaps that occurred to them.
Outside of all this conflict is the hero has a poets way of speaking his words. Whether romantic or cutting in nature, but he knows how to make a woman putty in his hands.
“Lately, now and again, when I see my hand…” He turned his palm up, then down. “So mundane and familiar, going about its business splashing water on my face or lifting a drink or scratching my bum or moving a chess piece…suddenly I stop. And marvel at the fact that it knows what it is to touch your skin. That is holds that magic, that memory. And when I remember…” He gave a short humorless laugh. “I cannot breathe for lust. It slashes like a sword.”
These verbal treats he shares with Angelique create plenty of emotional and fu conversations. Internally, Lord bolt deals with trust issues as much as Angelique and as these pairs circle around each other due to palace rules they find them selves falling in love. This is not an instant lust gratification type of story this is a story of lust tampered to friendship and grows into mutual want of the mind soul and body. I also like how the Lord Bolt’s goal changed as he fell in love and could appreciate how even his changes still result in a convincing black moment. Both of these characters grow to embrace who they are and figure out that they deserve as much happiness and love as anyone else. The story is sweet and easy to follow even if you haven’t read the first book in the series.
Things that kept me from a 5 star rating: There were a lot of parities between the first two books and for me that made things a little more routine instead of as fresh as it could’ve been. Also, I felt the villains of the piece did not get enough just desserts and would have enjoyed seeming them suffer a bit more.
Overall, I think readers for enjoyed the story and I love it when a woman gets rewarded after life of survival choices.