London’s Gambling King

Name: Julian Delbraith and/or Roscoe Neville?  A hero by either name, he’s titled and urbane enough to dazzle the ton AND he’s lethal enough — and enlightened enough — to run the only worker-friendly gambling empire in Regency London.  Of course he is.  How could it be otherwise?


Story Recounted By: Stephanie Laurens, in The Lady Risks All (2012)

Hangs Out In: 1820’s London, dividing his time between Roscoe’s exquisitely appointed townhouse in Pimlico and Ridgeware, Lord Julian’s nephew’s ducal seat and residence of his gaggle of adoring female relatives (along with the teenage duke, Henry).

Likes: Innately noble spinsters of 29 years whose deep passions are ready to burst the bonds of Rigid Respectability; games of chance; giving in to his protective urges; having crime bosses as well as Bastion Club aristocrats for friends; sisters; Cynsters.

Dislikes: Waterloo deserters, kidnappers, having his female friends ignore his directives and follow him to dockside taverns.

Badass Hero Moment: Unreservedly shares his long-kept secret home and family with Miranda and Roderick in their time of need, thereby revealing his aristocratic alter-ego (and simultaneously putting them — especially her — under his direct and explicit protection).

Badass Annoying Moment: TOTAL Dog in the Manger behavior when HE decides Miranda is too respectable and good to associate with notorious and disreputable Roscoe.

(too) Frequently Described As: prowling; panther-like; LGK (London’s gambling king)

Might Look Like:  Toby Stephens (above)  as Rochester in the brilliant 2006 BBC  Jane Eyre …?


To Read Or Not To Read?  I picked it up largely out of nostalgia.  So many wonderful reads from SL — I read her whole backlist about 6 years ago and still find the prospect of the familiar, cozy, dense, character-driven Cynster-esque tales appealing.  What can I say – I’m loyal! But this one falls far short of the greatness of the early Cynster novels, and even pales in comparison to the Bastion Club books in which Roscoe first appeared (which prior appearances are made much of). It could be me, but where I used to linger and enjoy the pages-long love scenes, I had to skim and skip the purply, generic and repetitive episodes where Roscoe and Miranda fly to heaven’s gate together.  The best thing about this outing is the book’s title, which, for once in a romance novel, cleverly captures both a thematically appropriate gambling reference and foreshadows a central plot element.  Miranda does indeed Risk All, and this book stands apart from most of SL’s oeuvre in that it is she who Decides and then Pursues the alpha hero, and not vice versa.

Tangentially Related … and Possibly Diverting:

Crockford’s Club: How a Fishmonger Built a Gambling Club and Bankrupted the British Aristocracy.”  A hilarious historical tale from the Smithsonian’s Past Imperfect blog.

Pamela Poll: What is your favorite romance where the heroine is the pursuer? Can an alpha hero and alpha heroine co-exist in the same romance?  Leave a comment and tell me what you think!


5 thoughts on “London’s Gambling King

  1. HollyC says:

    It’s not just you who is skimming through Stephanie Laurens’ newer books – I had the same problem with her Cynster Brides series, and gave away book 2 unread (In Pursuit of Eliza Cynster). Also, I quit a few chapters into The Untamed Bride (Black Cobra series). Maybe after that many novels she’s run out of the steam needed to produce any passion? I liked the original Cynster series (made it to about book 5), but I’m wondering if its worth reading the rest.

  2. pamela1740 says:

    Ha! I was just talking about the Laurens problem over on readingwithanalysis.
    As I commented there, the Black Cobra quartet nearly broke me. But still I read Lady Risks All…

  3. I love this, by the way.

    And I think you’ve hit the nail on the head about the best part of this book – Miranda as the decider and pursuer of her own fate. After 30+ novels in which the alpha leads stake their claim on the lady in question, in annoyingly high-handed but ultimately rewarded (and, thus, author-approved), I praised this book’s moxie in giving Miranda the power to stake a claim and follow it up with action. I might even have liked this book if not for the completely ridiculous sex scenes…

    • pamela1740 says:

      Thank you so much for visiting and commenting! The hero high-handedness can be awfully predictable — and annoying — so it was definitely intriguing to have the female lead in active pursuit. The one thing I will say in defense of my (sort of indefensible when you come right down to it) Laurens loyalty, is that I think at certain times (like when I first succumbed to the addictive and repetitive Cynster books), the fact that the hero frequently takes over the lady’s life seemed sort of… well… dreamy…!
      He wants to win her, he helps her get out of all kinds of scrapes and perilous and/or ruinous situations, he frequently manages troublesome relatives or other problem areas on her behalf, he always adores and gets on famously with the nice relatives and retainers, and he basically fixes all the aspects of her life that are spinning out of control. And they always back off from the high handedness when the Cynster ladies draw a line in the sand, so Laurens manages to steer away from turning them into creepy control freaks just in the nick of time. I’m pretty sure the fantasy of the hero who also helps you pull yourself together was feeding into my compulsion to keep reading the books for the comfort value!

  4. […] undoubted, unavoidable exploitation of the feminine charms of certain of its employees. (Heroes who run gaming hells always seem to do it in the least sexist way […]


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