Series: The Palace of Rogues #5
Published by Avon on June 28, 2022
FINAL DECISION: This book suffers from a delayed meeting between the hero and the heroine. There just isn’t enough time for them to meet, fall in love, and resolve both the emotional and plot issues in this book. At the same time, Long, as always, writes so beautifully and lyrically about love and pain. There are passages that just enthralled me.
THE STORY: Christian Hawkes, an English spy, newly freed from a French prison, agrees to find the Earl of Brundage’s fiancee, who has disappeared. Lady Aurelie Capet has fled France and comes to the Grand Palace on the Thames, traveling under a false name and hiding from her fiance. Hawkes soon arrives at the Grand Palace as well. The two are keeping secrets from one another and falling for one another.
OPINION: Mixed feelings about this one. Once the hero and heroine meet, the book has such beauty in it. But the book doesn’t take the time to develop the relationship between these two characters. They meet, and love is quick and fast between them. Most of the book is unwinding the plot with the villain of the novel.
So I loved Hawke and Aurelie; the story was beautiful and painful when they were on the page together. Both have suffered incredible betrayals, which threaten their ability of them to trust other people. Yet, from the start, something between the two is powerful and draws them together.
I wanted to like this book more than I did because I adored the characters. Hawke emerged from being imprisoned during the war, having lost almost everything. What could have made him hard and cruel instead has made him empathetic and understanding. And he is almost immediately willing to give up his own desires to protect Aurelie.
Aurelie could have been destroyed by what happened to her, but instead, she has the inner strength and determination to take control of her own life. One thing I really loved in this book is how these two wounded people recognize both the pain in the other and also the strength and ability to overcome the deep wounding that both experienced.
Hawke is one of my favorite heroes. He is immediately determined to do what is right once he realizes that things are not what was represented to him.
The book also has a good dose of characters we already know from the series, so fans will be pleased to see beloved characters again.
WORTH MENTIONING: This book discusses and has rape as a significant plot point, although it occurs off-page before the book begins.
CONNECTED BOOKS: YOU WERE MADE TO BE MINE is the fifth book in the Palace of Rogues series. The romance here is self-contained; thus, the book can be read as a standalone. Characters from the other books do make significant appearances, however, so reading in order provides more depth to the story.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.