Lady Derring Takes a Lover: The Palace of Rogues

Written by Julie Anne Long
Review by Ray Thompson

When her husband dies, Delilah Swanpoole, Countess of Derring, finds herself not only a widow, but penniless. All that remains is an old, run-down house by the London docks. Not a salubrious neighborhood. Determined never to depend upon a man again, she decides to create a fine boardinghouse, and she persuades two of her former servants and Angelique Breedlove, her husband’s mistress, to join her on this idealistic venture. Slowly, guests begin to arrive, and among the first is Tristan Hardy, the formidable Captain of the King’s Blockade, who is on the trail of cigar smugglers. Despite their caution, they fall in love.

Despite its implausibility, there is much to enjoy in this Regency romance: the difficult journey, as two very different personalities reluctantly open up their hearts and find true love; the grace and fortitude with which brave women pursue an impractical dream in an era when they struggle under so many disadvantages, and the triumph of their improbable success; an intriguing mystery; appropriate punishment for the arrogant and predatory. But it is the author’s use of wit and irony that makes this story really stand out. Highly recommended.