Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂
I know I’ve said it before, but I am so glad Julie Anne Long is returning to historicals. Lady Derring Takes a Lover is the start of a new series and I’m so thrilled to be able to share an excerpt with you today.Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long
Series: The Palace of Rogues #1
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Add It: Goodreads
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A mistress. A mountain of debt. A mysterious wreck of a building.
Delilah Swanpoole, Countess of Derring, learns the hard way that her husband, “Dear Dull Derring,” is a lot more interesting—and perfidious—dead than alive. It’s a devil of an inheritance, but in the grand ruins of the one building Derring left her, are the seeds of her liberation. And she vows never again to place herself at the mercy of a man.
But battle-hardened Captain Tristan Hardy is nothing if not merciless. When the charismatic naval hero tracks a notorious smuggler to a London boarding house known as the Rogue’s Palace, seducing the beautiful, blue-blooded proprietress to get his man seems like a small sacrifice.
They both believe love is a myth. But a desire beyond reason threatens to destroy the armor around their hearts. Now a shattering decision looms: Will Tristan betray his own code of honor…or choose a love that might be the truest thing he’s ever known?
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“Do you snore, Captain Hardy?” she said softly.
She saw the breath leave him. His gray eyes flared to black.
It was the most thrilling, vixenish thing she’d ever done, that subtle question, which was born of real curiosity. But she knew immediately that she was quite in over her head.
She pivoted to leave, and swiftly.
She’d taken two steps when he said, his voice raised only a little, “Lady Derring . . . something puzzles me.”
She halted. Closed her eyes.
Took a shuddering breath for courage.
Turned back to him. From the relatively safe distance of three feet, she said, “Surely not. We’ve established you know everything.”
His smile was small and patient. “You seem to excel at so very much here at The Grand Palace on the Thames. Yet you can’t seem to disguise how much you want me.”
One of the things Tristan excelled at was ambush. Her eyes grew enormous as his words sank in.
She looked both stricken and resigned, like a thief nabbed in the act.
Finally she drew in a breath and resettled her shoulders, as though she’d been ruffled by a stiff wind.
“Well, Captain Hardy, I must take issue with your assessment, on the grounds that I’m not trying to dis- guise it at all.”
His breath left him in a gust.
And as she turned again to walk away his hand shot out.
It was a primal reflex, but not the about-to-fall-off-a-cliff sort. It was somewhere in between a cat with prey or a miser with gold.
He got hold of her forearm.
He held her like that long enough to feel brutish. Three seconds all told, though something had gone wrong with time—it seemed to have stopped—so it was difficult to know.
She ought to slap him. He ought to let go.
Unless one counted lungs moving in and out, color flooding into cheeks, pupils flaring to shilling size, neither of them moved.
And then he slid his hand down, down, down along her arm to bracelet her wrist.
He felt her heart drumming against his fingertips.
At least as hard as his was beating. It was what he needed to know.
He tugged her up against his body.
It was nearly as much a collision as a kiss, at first, fierce and hard, as if they were both intent on punishing themselves and each other for wanting this.
This was a mistake. He’d known it was, and he could not stop himself from making it.
He fanned one hand against the small of her back; with the other he cradled her head, threaded his fingers up through her hair. And tugged her head back to take that kiss mercilessly, greedily, carnally, deeper. She moaned softly. And opened to him with a sweetness and hunger that stunned him, then made him nearly savage. Her hands rose to grip his shirt and she pulled him hard up against her. He slid his hands down beneath the curve of her arse and scooped her up hard against the swell of his cock and he felt her ribcage jump against him as her breath snagged.
And then she shifted to fit him more snugly between her legs and pulled him closer and lust threatened to tear the top from his head.
It was already out of hand.
The hallway spun, as if he’d staggered from an opium den.
Her finger remained curled into his shirt. Her body was still crushed to his, and he could feel her heart beating against his body, in counterpoint to his. He could rest his cheek on the top of her head if he wanted to. It was as seductive as those pillows in his room, a moment of infinite weakness.
God, how he wanted to. Which was why he didn’t.
“I’m not a gentleman,” he said gruffly. Finally.
He didn’t know why these should be the first words he said after he surfaced from the kiss. A warning, perhaps. Or an explanation. Not an apology.
He would never apologize for something that could not be helped.
She finally stepped back from him and drew in a breath that shuddered.
Her hands rose, and he thought for a moment she meant to cover her face. But she dropped them again. And she stared at him. Not censorious. Assessing, perhaps. Amazed, certainly. Her eyes were hazy and soft.
“No. You certainly aren’t,” she said finally. He said nothing.
She adjusted her shoulders, as though realigning herself with propriety.
And then she turned and went down the stairs without another word.
Albeit carefully, and a little more slowly, as though she were finding her footing in a world that was still shifting beneath her feet.
Palace of Rogues
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