REVIEW: How to Tame a Wild Rogue by Julie Ann Long
Blurb: He clawed his way up from the gutters of St. Giles to the top of a shadowy empire. Feared and fearsome, battered and brilliant, nothing shocks Lorcan St. Leger—not even the discovery of an aristocratic woman escaping out a window near the London docks on the eve of the storm of the decade. They find shelter at a boarding house called the Grand Palace on the Thames—only to find greater dangers await inside.
Desperate, destitute, and jilted, Lady Daphne Worth knows the clock is ticking on her last chance to save herself and her family: an offer of a loveless marriage. But while the storm rages and roads flood, she and the rogue who rescued her must pose as husband and wife in order to share the only available suite.
Crackling enmity gives way to incendiary desire—and certain heartbreak: Lorcan is everything she never dreamed she’d wanted, but he can never be what she needs. But risk is child’s play to St. Leger. And if the stakes are a lifetime of loving and being loved by Daphne, he’ll move any mountain, confront any old nemesis, to turn “never” into forever.
This is book six in the Palace of Rogues series; I’ve read five books in the series (all but book three, I’m Only Wicked with You). I read four of these books last year, starting with book four, After Dark with the Duke, which remains my favorite (it was a B+, almost A range – the grade went down a bit because the ending was weak, I thought).
On to How to Tame a Wild Rogue:
Lorcan comes upon Daphne as she’s escaping the unwanted attentions of her employer’s husband by climbing out a second-floor window. He rescues her and they end up traveling a short way to the Grand Palace on the Thames together to seek refuge from the coming storm. They are assumed to be a married couple, a fiction they maintain for…reasons.
The hero of an earlier book in the series (and the husband of one of the two female proprietors of The Grand Palace on the Thames) objects to them staying when he recognizes Lorcan. Captain Tristan Hardy is a former Navy man who was tasked with catching smugglers. Guess what Lorcan’s former profession was? This causes some interesting tension between Tristan and his wife, Delilah, as she bristles at him dictating who she can accept at her boardinghouse. It turns out that Delilah actually knows Daphne from her former life and remembers Daphne as kind as well as respectable. After some tense moments, Lorcan and Daphne are granted use of a suite in TGPotT (I can’t keep typing that name out). They figure they’ll stay and maintain the façade until the storm blows over and they can go their separate ways.
Of course, it doesn’t quite work out that way. The enforced closeness leads to the couple learning about each other’s lives. Lorcan grew up dirt poor in St. Giles, with a mother that died when he was very young and an abusive father who died when he was 10. He’s had to make his own way in the world, and he’s hardened by his experiences.
Daphne has suffered as well, albeit in a more genteel manner. Her mother died when she was young and her selfish father allowed Daphne to take over management of the house and finances, the latter of which were reduced by his gambling habit. Daphne was jilted by her fiancé, who fell in love with a governess. As the book starts she is reduced to being a lady’s companion to earn some money to keep her father and brothers afloat. Her life has not turned out as she once hoped, and she is genuinely unhappy and lonely in a rather low-key, repressed way.
There’s a fair amount – not too much, but maybe almost too much – of revisiting the couples from the first two books (Tristan/Delilah, and Angelique/Lucien). It makes sense, I guess, since they are the proprietors of TGPotT, and thus on the scene quite a bit. There are tensions caused in part by a missing ship that should have arrived at port weeks before. It’s owned by Tristan, Lucien and Mr. Delacorte, a permanent resident of TGPotT, and if it has gone down at sea, their company, the Triton Group, is in financial trouble.
How to Tame a Wild Rogue opened strong, I thought. I enjoyed the set up – a raging storm that isolates the hero and heroine as well as the other denizens of the Grand Palace on the Thames.
There’s some comic relief offered by the other guests, particularly three German musicians who are excessively jolly and seem determined to eat every crumb of food TGPotT has to offer.
As for the hero and heroine, I liked Daphne more than Lorcan. He just felt very bland to me – how many self-made, London-slum-bred semi-pirates have I read about at this point? A lot, that’s how many. There was little about him that stood out or made him come alive for me. Daphne is a familiar type as well – the dutiful spinster – but she had a poignant quality about her that made me root for her happiness.
I really do like the conceit of the Grand Palace on the Thames – lonely people discovering a home and sometimes a found family in an unusual place. I wish the characters in most of the books were as interesting to me as the unusual setting. My grade for this one is a B-/C+.