Review of "Lady Derring Takes a Lover" (The Palace of Rogues #1) by Julie Anne Long

Long, Julie Anne. Lady Derring Takes a Lover. New York: Avon Books, 2019.

eBook | $5.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0062867476 | 384 pages | Regency Romance

4 stars

I had mixed experiences with Julie Anne Long’s previous work, really enjoying one of the middle books in the Pennyroyal Green series when I first got into romance but not feeling compelled to continue, then being put off entirely by the early books. With Lady Derring Takes a Lover, Long appears to have mastered her craft since those earlier books, as while there is a lot of setup, it’s balanced well with a much more engaging love story.

In terms of that setup, I really enjoyed the friendship between Delilah and Angelique. They begin the book as the widow and former mistress, respectively, of the same man, and while it could have led to animosity, I enjoyed seeing them bond over the poor circumstances Lord Derring left them in. I feel like female friendships aren’t given as much emphasis as male ones in romance, and to have it come from a situation like this is so refreshing.

While the romance takes its time to start, once it does, it’s swoonworthy. I loved seeing Delilah discovering pleasure for the first time, as well as what it means to be cared for. And Tristan, who is usually more contained, is attracted to her almost immediately, allowing him to let his guard down.

The one major plot point I found a little out of place was the mystery. It presents an opportunity for Tristan and Delilah to make contact, as it centers on Lord Derring, but other than that, it feels rather underwhelming. However, I did enjoy how it provided context to the work Tristan does.

This is a great start to a new series from a well-loved author who I’m hoping to give more of a chance going forward. I recommend this to those looking for more historical romances that prominently feature female friendships, especially between unlikely people.

Review of “The Perils of Pleasure” (Pennyroyal Green #1) by Julie Anne Long

Long, Julie Anne. The Perils of Pleasure. New York: Avon Books, 2008. ISBN-13: 978-0-06-134158-8. $6.99 USD. 

3 stars

Despite having read a lot of historical romance, I have been lax in reading the much-raved-about Pennyroyal Green series, and recently decided to change that. And while this first installment is not the best book on its own, I feel like it does a good job providing a  foundation for what’s to come, setting up the series lore between the Everseas and the Redmonds, which I feel I will benefit from going forward.

The romance between Colin and Madeleine is the weak spot of this book. While on his own, Colin is an great character, being an irresistible, charming rogue, and I did feel some sparks between him and Madeleine, for most of the book, it does feel more like an affair, or an “interlude,” as it is referred to at one point, especially as he spends most of the book mooning over another woman who’s marrying his brother, only to have it speedily clarified at the end that “it wouldn’t work” between them. Not to mention that I didn’t feel any connection to Madeleine as a character, as she didn’t really have anything that made her feel “real” to me.

The mystery plot, which ended up relating to the family dynamics, worked very well, and the pacing of that aspect had me turning pages despite the lackluster romance. There were some odd moments, but I found it rather charming in its way. While I did not enjoy this one as much as I had hoped I would, I do look forward to reading the rest of the series.