We return to the Grand Palace on the Thames for a forced proximity romance between two people who couldn’t be more different, or more the same.
Plot: Lorcan St. Leger is a successful smuggler. He’s come a long way from his lonely, painful youth in St Giles, and he’s done it through ferocious determination, intelligence, and an antagonistic relationship with authority. When he sees a woman in fine dress climbing out of a rooming house’s second floor window on a bedsheet, something urges him to help. Perhaps he recognizes the same tenacious energy in her as he feels in himself. Whatever the reason, they quickly find themselves trapped with a terrible storm on the horizon and only one place to hide, the Grand Palace on the Thames, where a familiar face forces Lady Daphne to fib about the nature of her connection to the notorious smuggler for shelter. Shenanigans ensue.
Turns out this is book 6, not 3, so take my review with the grain of salt that I may be missing some context from books 3-5. Whoops.
In Lorcan, the book emphasizes the ways in which even people born in the same place can wind up vastly, vastly different, purely due to chance, and encourages readers to think critically about how someone came to be based on the choices they had available to them rather than the choices you want to have been available to them. In Daphne, the book explores the way people are sometimes trapped by connections they are meant to honour, and especially the way women are raised to give and give and be fine with nothing in return.
These characters had a lot of depth and interesting things to say, but I’ll admit that I found little chemistry between them. They were both great, but they didn’t really make a lot of sense together. The story felt like it flowed less than Long’s other works, with character actions sometimes defined more by compliance to a trope than who the characters are. Still, Long’s historical fiction only gets so bad. This is still a well written reprieve.