an excellent romance novel. with engaging characters and non-insipid heroines. compelling ladies, with knowledge about their own legal limitations without being overly "modern"-ly made over. the same for the male lead. he is convincingly different and his difference remains within the limitations of the time. It has been a while (since my last courtney milan Book in fact) that I enjoyed a historical romance novel this much
wundervoll geschrieben (mit nur wenigen Rechtschreibfehlern 😉), glaubhafte Charaktere, Spannung bis zum Schluss, humorvoll - und mit einem Epilog, der gleich Lust auf den nächsten Band macht. Den hab ich schon vorbestellt, weil Julie Anne Long auf dem Cover immer Lesevergnügen garantiert.
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4,5 von 5 Sternen
4,0 von 5 SternenLady Derring learns to be more daring.
27. Februar 2019 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle AusgabeVerifizierter Kauf
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.
5,0 von 5 SternenLove, Friendship and Found Family
26. Februar 2019 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle AusgabeVerifizierter Kauf
"I have perhaps seen more beautiful women, but the difference between them and you is like the difference between the grimy window and one rubbed clean, one though which the sun shines. It is about a certain quality of light."
FINAL DECISION: A book about love and friendship and building a family, I loved this book. Long writes such beautiful prose about love and relationship that I just fell into this book and didn't want to find my way out. A great start to Long's return to historical romance.
THE STORY: Delilah Swanpool, Countess of Derring, finds out upon her husband's death that not only was he in financial debt and has left her nothing but a useless building in a poor area of London, but that he also had a mistress. Delilah decides never to be at the mercy of man again and opens a boarding house in the building her inherited. One of her guests is Captain Tristan Hardy who, unknown to Delilah, is hunting a smuggling operation and Delilah and her new boarding house are under suspicion. Tristan begins to question his mission as he gets to know Delilah who touches a heart that he doesn't believe he has.
OPINION: This is a wonderful book. As it began, I wondered if I would like it because the story and tone was different than I expected, but by the time the two central relationships in the book (Delilah/Angelique and Delilah/Tristan) were established I found myself relaxing into the sigh-worthy beauty of the text and the relationships.
The first book in the series tends to suffer as characters and places and situations are introduced. This book does have some of that in the first portion of the book, but I truly enjoyed the development of the friendship between Delilah and Angelique. Two women left penniless by the same man, find common ground. Their relationship is important to this story (and I expect this series). I especially appreciated how these women look at their lives and see how they are not "seen" or "known" by people and find a way to help themselves. I very much like seeing women take power into their own hands. These two women have an interesting story even without the romance and in essence are the "founding mothers" of the new family built in The Grand Palace of the Thames aka the Palace of Rogues.
Delilah is a darling woman. Nothing about who she is has mattered to those around her. Instead, she has had to play a role built for her. Tossed from all the protection of her life that she expected, Delilah refuses to continue on that path and seek another husband or a protector as is expected. Instead, she cuts a new path for herself. Despite the sadness and disappointment in her life, Delilah is a kind and optimistic woman. Indeed, she is the heart of the new operation.
Tristan is a man dedicated to his work when he arrives at the Palace. Delilah immediately draws Tristan. I loved how sensitive Tristan is even though he claims to be cynical and without a heart. Everything about why he does things comes from a place of doing right and care. He doesn't search from smugglers because he wants riches or advancement. Instead, he feels responsibility for those harmed by the smugglers and is dedicated to the responsibilities placed upon him by the King.
I love the quiet development of the relationship between Delilah and Tristan which depends upon talking and appreciating and knowing. At the same time, there is intense passion which flares between them. But there is something very powerful in Delilah's demand that what lies between them must be centered in knowledge and relationship rather than mere bodily passion. She is always willing to demand that she be more than the easy expectation.
This is a beautifully written book. As always, Long has such a lyrical and emotional power to her books. This book ripped my heart out at times and made it bleed but then also made it beat harder and soar with a recognition of the universal joy and power of love. I immediately began to re-read passages not only for the intense emotional parts, but just the beautifully written parts. Long has written another winner.
WORTH MENTIONING: The boardinghouse sets up an intriguing variety of potential stories that can be explored in this series, but I'm breathlessly waiting for the next book in the series, ANGEL IN A DEVIL'S ARMS, which will be about Angelique (Derring's former mistress) and which will, thankfully, be out in October this year.
CONNECTED BOOKS: LADY DERRING TAKES A LOVER is the first book in the Palace of Rogues series.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Edelweiss. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.
JAL is one of the last remaining good HR writers, I have read all her books and reread many ("What I did for a duke" is one of my all time favorite HRs, ever!) but the things that make her other books great just weren't present here: the Hero is all a Hero should be -- sort of; somehow he comes across as a having no personality; the heroine has an interesting backstory but she too is sort of hard to grasp and to identify with. The chemistry between H/h (usually JAL's strong suit) was missing here. I'm glad there was an HEA but it didn't touch me. One element that I found had potential was the teaming up of the wife and the mistress, but even that sort of fizzled out. The story is fine but requires a bit more suspension of disbelief than most of JAL's other books and when it was done I felt no emotional payoff. I'm sorry to be so down on a work JAL, I will continue to read (and reread) most of her other work though, and I am looking forward to the next one!