Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Have Yourself a Slow Burn little Christmas... with Julie Anne Long of After Dark with the Duke

Have Yourself a Slow Burn little Christmas...

I think readers who savor slow-burn, exquisitely tense romances savor them for the same reasons we traditionally disguise our holiday gifts in shiny paper and ribbon: We instinctively understand that anticipation and the element of surprise heighten pleasure and amplify that ultimate delicious payoff—whether we're unwrapping a brand new air fryer, or, for instance, a smolderingly stern duke. And it's why advent calendars are such a fun tradition—no matter how old we are, we all get an undeniably pleasant little charge in discovering what's behind each little door of the calendar, right up until the big day. 

I like to think of The Grand Palace on the Thames—the boarding house near the London docks at the nexus of of Palace of Rogues series— as a sort of Romance Advent Calendar. After all, there's a reason why Dot—former worst lady's maid in the world, current valued (if exasperatedly) staff member—loves answering the door more than any of her other responsibilities: it's that element of surprise. Who will it be? What story will be set in motion the minute a new person steps into the boarding house foyer? And the series premise is delicious for me, too, because it affords me so many opportunities to surprise myself, my readers and my characters. Why, anyone could show up at the door at any time for any reason! For instance, a coldly brilliant, battle-hardened legend and the man who literally wrote the book on honor, General James Duncan Blackmore, the Duke of Valkirk, might need a quiet place to stay while his townhouse is undergoing repairs, because he's working on his memoirs. After all, at the age of forty-three, what else could be left for a legend to achieve? Or like Mariana Wylde, a cobbler's daughter turned opera diva, whose rising fortunes are shattered by a scandal that sends her fleeing from an angry mob on a stormy night—right to door of The Grand Palace on the Thames. 

A boardinghouse on the docks (and in the pages of AFTER DARK WITH THE DUKE) might in fact be the only place in the world England's greatest hero and England's greatest pariah would cross paths. These two (seeming) opposites of course mightily clash, compelling our boarding house proprietresses, Mrs. Angelique Durand and Mrs. Delilah Hardy, to impose a sort of half-punishment, half detente: they compel the duke to give Mariana daily Italian lessons.

Which brings us to another kind of metaphorical advent calendar: day by day, Mariana and James uncover stunning little surprises and truths about each other and themselves. Until those lessons culminate in something neither of them anticipates: a passion for the ages. And a love that could be the ruination of them both. 

Here's hoping you, too, unwrap some glorious surprises this holiday season—even if (perhaps especially if) they're between the pages of a book.

About the Book

After Dark with the Duke
(The Palace of Rogues #4)
by Julie Anne Long 

Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Published November 30th 2021 by Avon
Sparks fly when a daring diva clashes with an ice-cold war hero in the newest thrilling romance in USA Today bestselling author Julie Anne Long’s Palace of Rogues series.

She arrives in the dead of night, a mob out for blood at her heels: Mariana Wylde, the “Harlot of Haywood Street,” an opera diva brought low by a duel fought for her favors. But the ladies of the Grand Palace on the Thames think they can make a silk purse from scandal: They’ll restore her reputation and share in her triumph...provided they can keep her apart from that other guest.

Coldly brilliant, fiercely honorable, General James Duncan Blackmore, the Duke of Valkirk, is revered, feared, desired...but nobody truly knows him. Until a clash with a fiery, vulnerable beauty who stands for everything he scorns lays him bare. It’s too clear the only cure for consuming desire is conquest, but their only chance at happiness could lead to their destruction.

The legendary duke never dreamed love would be his last battleground. Valkirk would lay down his life for Mariana, but his choice is stark: risk losing her forever, or do the one thing he vowed he never would...surrender.

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling author and Rita Award winner Anne Long's books have been translated into fourteen languages and nominated for numerous awards, including the Romance Writers of America Rita and Romantic Times Reviewer's choice, and reviewers have called them "dazzling," "brilliant" and "impossible to put down." HOT IN HELLCAT CANYON, named by as one of the Best books of 2016, was nominated for a 2016 Rita Award, and Kirkus Reviews named WILD AT WHISKEY CREEK one of the best books of 2016. She lives in California. Find out more at


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