After Dark with the Duke by Julie Anne Long
The Palace of Rogues #4
November 30, 2021, by Avon
Review by Angela
The fourth book in The Palace of Rogues series features an opposites attract, age-gap romance that has to be one of my favorite books by this author to date. After Dark with the Duke had me running a whole gamut of emotions, from happiness to heartbreak and everything in between. I loved every minute of it.
Mariana Wylde shows up at The Grand Palace on the Thames after getting run out of her rooms by a shouting crowd when the gossip rags proclaim she was the cause of a duel between two young noblemen. An opera singer by profession, she has almost no money to her name, but she possesses an incredible talent and so Delilah and Angelique offer her a deal. She will sing for a crowd in the Palace’s brand new ballroom, and they will offer her room and board in the meantime. It’s an offer Mariana accepts happily.
James Blackmore, the Duke of Valkirk is a legend in England. A revered general who spent his life in military service, he earned his new title through hard work and dedication to country. Now he has settled into The Grand Palace on the Thames to write his memoirs in peace while his townhouse is being remodeled.
These two are opposites in every single way and watching them judge one another at first sight and find each other wanting, then quip and quibble back and forth, verbally sparring in the hopes of besting their opponent, to slowly getting to know each other, and then to full-blown lust and love was magnificent. The differences between them are more than just their reputations, he being held in unbelievable high esteem and her having been labeled as the Harlot of Haywood, but also their ages, experiences, and stations in life. There really shouldn’t be a way for them to find their way to each other, but they do.
I was 100% invested in this couple from the moment they locked eyes for the first time. You can’t help but love the down on her luck Mariana, who is self-deprecating yet stands up for herself when no one else will. And James in all his haughty standoffishness who is forced to spend time with Mariana and quickly realizes he has judged too swiftly and too harshly. Their romance was glorious to watch unfold and so very, very sexy.
They are surrounded by a colorful cast of characters, who brighten every page and bring this story to life. I’ve gotten to know each of them through the last several books in this series and I’m always happy to greet them again with each new story The Palace its self is a wonderful, warm setting and I hope this author plans many more tales in this world.
This was such a heartfelt, wonderful slow-burn romance. Highly recommend.
Final grade- A