How to Tame a Wild Rogue

Book Six, Palace of Rogues series

July 25th, 2023

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.




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He’d been born on a night like this: the sky choked with black clouds, the wind banshee-screeching through cracks and rattling windows in their frames like a costermonger who’d caught hold of a thieving urchin.

Or at least that’s the sort of thing Lorcan St. Leger liked to tell whatever audience he held in thrall at a given moment.

“It’s how I got so strong and so ugly, you see,” he’d say. “I was born screaming into a headwind. And I’ve fought against headwinds me whole life.”

He didn’t actually know precisely when or where he was born. But he’d come to understand that a personal myth could be as useful as armor.

Experience told him the impending storm would be long and violent and his skin prickled with not unpleasant portent. His ship had reached harbor just ahead of it; and while his crew had dispersed at once to inns or brothels, captain’s business had kept Lorcan out later than he’d anticipated, and by the time he’d reached the nearest inn the last room had been taken. He needed to find shelter soon, but the only other possibility for lodging nearby was a storied brothel he knew of mainly through misty, prurient reminiscences shared by sailors over the years. He’d seen the building once, years ago; gargoyles lined the roof edge.

So that’s where he was headed. In a pinch, he supposed, he could take shelter in the livery stable he’d passed. God knew a man could keep worse company than horses.

Now and again the fitful wind whipped clouds away from a full moon, and fragments of his surroundings were illuminated: the eyes of a slinking cat, the sheen of greasy water atop an open barrel, a lantern hook outside a shop door. Nearly every shop and dwelling had taken their lamps in. He hadn’t seen another human on the street for nearly a quarter of an hour.

Only cats, rats, and Lorcan St. Leger would walk the streets near the London docks unafraid at this time of night.

In St. Giles, as a child, he’d learned that a moment’s distraction could mean death. Terror had been the whetstone against which he’d honed his reflexes and wits. How to find hiding places and escape routes, how to fight, when to ingratiate, when to intimidate, how to barter and steal—he leveraged his lessons into strength, and then into power. By the time he was scarcely more than twenty years old he’d built a shadowy empire from one end of England to the other of men and women who would have killed for him.

He’d made sure they’d never needed to. Brutality was the fastest way to the gallows, after all. The quickest way to get caught. And it was no substitute for strategy and cunning or for razor-sharp judge of character. Lorcan wasn’t above it, of course, if it was the quickest solution to a sticky problem of disrespect or immediate threat. And he’d tolerated no nonsense from the various earls, viscounts, and other nobs who’d been his customers and whom he’d easily charmed. They paid cash on the nail or they got nothing.
And no one ever crossed him twice.

In exchange for their fealty, he’d given his meticulously chosen crew trust and respect. He listened to their needs and paid them promptly and well. They’d repaid him with adulation and ironclad loyalty.

Those days were behind him. He was more than a decade older than when he’d begun; he led a different life; he had a different crew. And yet still he instinctively moved swiftly and nearly soundlessly through the dark, his every sense on alert.

He froze when he heard a muffled thump from a few feet away.
It was the sound of something—or someone—falling to the ground in the narrow street up ahead.

He flattened himself against the building wall. Pistol in hand, he inched soundlessly toward the alley. Then peered around the corner.
Very little surprised him anymore.

But about fifteen or so feet ahead of him, into the alley separating two buildings, a woman was lowering herself out of a second-story window on what appeared to be a braided bedsheet.

On the cobblestones below her he could just make out a small, dark, oblong shape. Likely a valise or knapsack she’d thrown to the ground before her descent. The source of the thump.

He decided to pause to take in the spectacle as though it were a puppet show.
Her feet flailed a bit before she gingerly came to rest on the top of a stack of crates pushed up against the building wall.

She was still a good seven or eight feet off the ground.

And she’d run out of bedsheet.

Lorcan wasn’t quite certain what manner of escape he was watching, but he found himself rooting for her just the same. The wildness in his soul could not help but admire the wily people of the world, the ones who tried and got away with audacious things. He was disinclined to judge. No one knew better than he did what desperation could inspire even a saintly person to do. He possessed a moral code, after a fashion, but his first instinct was always to help. At least the first time.

The moon and a rude gust of wind conspired to hurl her cloak and skirts upward and dropped it, revealing a pair of elegantly curved calves wearing surprisingly good embroidered stockings.

“I once gave a pair of stockings much like those to a mistress,” he said idly.

The woman flattened herself against the wall and froze.

But her breath formed swift white puffs in the frigid air
One hand remained fisted around the sheet. The wind whipped the hood from her head. She yanked it back over her head with the other.

He moved carefully closer. He could now hear her terrified breathing.

“Madam,” he mused, “it looks as though you’re in a bit of a bind.”

Perhaps because this was self-evident, she didn’t reply.

“If what you’ve just tossed down is a satchel full of silver plate, you’d best hurry. I should hate for their rightful owners to awake and shoot you.” Now he was having a little fun at her expense.

“Why would I take silver plate?”

Her voice was a shock. Low-pitched, exquisitely refined, every word as precise as a cut gem. It was like stumbling across a diamond necklace in the dirt.

“Oh . . . lass . . .” he said pityingly. “First day at thieving?”

“I’m not thieving.” She actually sounded indignant. “Some . . . blighter . . . moved the barrel that I . . . that I planned to . . .”

“Blighter!” He was amused. “You’ll never get to heaven using that sort of language.”

And then he became brisk. “I believe you’re going to have to jump. And I’m going to have to catch you, because the sound of human bones crunching against cobblestones puts me right off me feed.”

She said nothing. The only movement was the lashing of her cape about her ankles. It snapped like a sail in the wind.

“My offer is not indefinite, madam. Jump or be caught stealing, it’s all the same to me.”

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a STARRED review from Publishers Weekly!

Long continues her hot streak with the spicy sixth Palace of Rogues... heightened emotions, palpable passion, and just the right amount of suspense keep the pages flying. Readers won't want to put this one down.

a STARRED review from Kirkus

Thus begins a lovely new episode in the Palace of Rogues series, in which the author works romance alchemy on the familiar tropes of forced proximity, opposites attract, and a fake relationship, with magical results. Along with the pleasures of peeking in on series regulars, readers will witness the slow build of sexual and emotional ties between a former orphan from the slums and a woman once destined to marry a fellow aristocrat. As they spend time alone in their suite to build a convincing story about their nonexistent couplehood, Lorcan and Daphne realize they’re revealing hidden facets of themselves that no one else has known or could have been trusted with. Long imbues their every gesture and utterance with delicate weight. Metaphor and similes abound, making visible the ineffable threads that weave two people into one self when they share past griefs, present desires, and future wishes.

a STARRED review from Library Journal

The delightful plot dances from there, but the strongest part of the reading experience is Long’s deft writing. She creates deep emotional attachments across characters, both romantically and companionably, and her dialogue simmers and sparkles. Reading the book is akin to sinking into a sofa in the boarding home and being welcomed to great company. VERDICT Series readers will be delighted, and those yet to discover Long will have found a treasure, quickly seeking the full series run.
—Neal Wyatt


Praise for Julie Anne Long's work:

"I am in awe of her talent."
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"Julie Anne Long reinvents the historical romance for modern readers, delivering intense, passionate characters and high adventure. Her writing glows."
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"A fresh voice that stands out in a chorus of Regency historicals, Julie Anne Long entrances with deftly woven humor, strong and believable characters, and a genuinely rich and emotional resolutions. Delicious and delightful!"
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