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"I am in awe of her talent."— Julia Quinn
In the fifth installment of USA Today bestselling author Julie Anne Long’s charming Palace of Rogues series, a rakish spy finds more than he bargained for in his pursuit of an earl’s enchanting runaway fiancée.
The mission: Find the Earl of Brundage’s runaway fiancée in exchange for a fortune. Child’s play for legendary British former spymaster, Christian Hawkes. The catch? Hawkes knows in his bones that Brundage is the traitor to England who landed him in a brutal French prison. Hawkes is destitute, the earl is desperate, and a bargain is struck.
Fleeing a savagely shattered dream, the sheltered Lady Aurelie Capet finds refuge in an alias and the warmth and kindness of the Grand Palace on the Thames—until a gorgeous, mysterious disturbance to her peace literally topples through the door.
An unexpected, fierce desire that feels destined, dangerous—and devastatingly sweet—ignites between the sheltered beauty and the jaded spy, and as they slowly unravel each other's shocking secrets Hawkes closes in on the truth about the earl. Soon it’s clear they can have no future without vanquishing the past: Hawkes knows that loving her means avenging her. Aurelie knows that loving Hawkes means freeing him to do that, no matter the cost.
Long brings the goods in her fifth Palace of Rogues Regency romance (after After Dark with the Duke). Newly released from a French prison, British spy Christian Hawkes is hired by the Earl of Brundage to find Brundage's runaway fianc e, Lady Aurelie Capet, a Frenchwoman whose family were killed during the French Revolution. Hawkes agrees he needs the money but he suspects Brundage of treason and intends to simultaneously investigate any connection between the earl and his own arrest. Hawkes's search for Aurelie takes him to the Grand Palace on the Thames, an upscale London boardinghouse with a host of colorful residents. After being stabbed on the way there, Hawkes collapses in the foyer of the Grand Palace, where he is mistaken for vicar Mr. Bellingham, who was expected. Aurelie, herself disguised as one Mrs. Mary Gallagher, helps care for him while he recovers. As the pair fall in love, Hawkes must choose between completing his mission or following his heart. Long enhances her complex narrative loaded with wit, mystery, and sizzling romance with attention to historical detail and the emotional depths of her characters. This may be the author's best yet. Agent: Steve Axelrod, Axelrod Agency.