A big family, a reading addiction, and the occasional celebrity scandal are the ingredients of life that create one woman's opinion on just about everything.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

First I offer a little background on my Meredith Duran experience. Having seen many positive comments and reviews of her books, I purchased all three books as they were released. However, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, I didn't sit down and read one of them until I met Ms. Duran at the RWA book signings. Superficial isn't it?

Secondly, I read the books in reverse order. I read WRITTEN ON YOUR SKIN first, then BOUND BY YOUR TOUCH and then, DUKE OF SHADOWS, her first book, last. In each book the writing is beautiful, flowing, with all the subtle layering and texture I so enjoy in a good historical.

However much I enjoyed the books I have to say DUKE OF SHADOWS is my favorite. Multiple times I'd stop and re-read passages that were so wonderfully written. At a couple of points in the book I got that feeling one gets when listening to beautiful music or seeing art that speaks to them in a personal way. I even remember telling GG how gifted Ms. Duran is.

As avid readers we see and hear all the time about watching for this author or that author as an up and coming writer to watch. Meredith Duran gets my vote. I can only see her getting better and better and I'm going to predict she has a long and successful career in the publishing world.

Now about the book...

On her way to British India to marry, Emmaline Martin meets with tragedy. Her intended, a soldier serving in India and the son from a neighboring estate back in England, is neither gentle or kind to Emmaline in her circumstances but remains stubbornly adamant they proceed with the marriage.

Having survived loss and societal ostracism Emmaline is not inclined to proceed with the marriage and seeks the assistance of another outsider, Julian Sinclair. Julian is described on the back cover as "the dangerous and dazzling heir to the Duke of Auburn." While Julian is tolerated due to his wealth and position, he has no illusions about people's opinions of him. Unaware of the particulars of Emma's circumstances, Julian is cynical and suspicious when approached by what appears to be a spoiled British debutante for help to get back to England.

The story begins in India amid the Indian uprising of 1857. Beautifully written with wonderfully layered and sweeping historical anecdotes, I just plain loved this book. With Ms. Duran's words I was able to picture the time, the place and horror of Emmaline's circumstance. I mourned loss and separation with both Julian and Emmaline. Through it all Ms. Duran's words flowed over me like music and poetry.

This is definitely a circumstance where an e-book could not possibly capture how I feel when I pick up this paperback look at the cover, browse through the pages, and am immediately delivered back into the moment and time of my reading experience.

If you love richly textured historical romance told with obvious love and care, you will adore this book.

My Grade = A

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Blogger Tara Marie said...

You see, this is why I needed to get back to blogging, until I was back on-line I never heard of Meredith Duran and apparently, I must be missing out on some good books.

2:51 AM PST  
Blogger Tumperkin said...

I agree - she's a big talent. My favourite of the three has been Bound By Your Touch.

5:41 AM PST  
Blogger Kati said...

I've DNF'd Duke of Shadows about six times. I loved, loved, loved Bound By Your Touch and still haven't read Written on Your Skin. Thing is, I still own Duke of Shadows. It's one of those books that I just know that sooner or later, when I'm in the right mindset, it's going to work for me. So there it sits on the TBR shelf just waiting for me to come to my senses.

Great review, Rosie!

8:44 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wowzer, great review! i haven't read anything by Ms. Duran.. YET! i swear i haven't read any YET! but this reminds me of my recent reads by Joanna Bourne, have you read either of her Spymaster books? the way you described the historical detail and your reading experience sounds very much the same as mine with Ms. Bournes.

2:30 PM PST  
Blogger sula said...

wow, spooky timing! I just picked this one up for a reread last night. I got it back when it first came out, read it, enjoyed it but wasn't crazy about it. then I read Bound by Your Touch and Written on Your Skin which I loved! (in that order too). So I figured I should give this one a reread. And it's working better for me this time around. Who knows why. lol.

Duran is a major talent, imo, and quickly becoming one of my few autobuys.

3:34 PM PST  
Blogger Rosie said...

TM, that's one of the reasons I hang on by my fingernails.

Tumperkin, lots of people seem to like that one best.

Kati, that's happened to me before. I go back and read something and wonder why in the world I didn't like it before. Weird the way that works.

LustyReader, I've only read one of Bourne's books, the first one. The rhythm of Duran and Bourne's writing is different. However they both have a very thorough grasp on their time periods and both present different but unique perspectives of the times.

Sula, she is definitely an auto-buy for me. I wonder if I would have liked the books as much if I read them in a different order. I'm not complaining though. My journey with her books has been wonderful.

10:20 PM PST  
Blogger Tracy said...

How funny - maybe not haha funny, but strange funny...ahem, anyway...this was my least favorite of her 3 that I've read so far. I really liked the first part of the book but the second fell somewhat short for me. My fav, by far, is Bound by Your Touch.

4:57 PM PST  
Blogger Rosie said...

Tracy, my Tracy, t'would seem you are not alone. I really really liked her other two books, the almost lyrical quality of the writing in this one just appealed to me.

6:41 PM PST  
Blogger nath said...

Hmmm, wonder how much I will enjoy it... I have it in my TBR pile, but I thought Bound by Your Touch was okay. I don't like flower-y prose too much. I'm more straightforward... so although her writing is indeed beautiful, I find there's an excess of words LOL.

8:28 PM PST  
Blogger Rosie said...

Nathie, to me there's a big difference between "flowery" and writing something that flows beautifully. OTOH, you know different strokes for different folks. It was the right book and the right time and worked for me.

10:50 AM PST  
Blogger Tracy said...

She really does have an amazing voice and am always enthralled when I'm reading. But then I sit back and think...but did the story work for me?

3:55 PM PST  
Blogger ReneeW said...

I just finished this one too about a month ago and I have to agree with you - great book. I loved the setting of the uprising which kept reminding me of old favorite with a similar title - Shadow of the Moon by M. M. Kaye. It also takes place in India during this uprising. But DoS is much more romantic and sensuous - loved it. Bound by Your Touch is on my wishlist.

11:03 PM PST  
Blogger Rosie said...

Tracy, when you talk about being enthralled when reading and then wondering if the book worked for you is a dilemma I think we all have when we try to review books. I figure that if it affected you at all it worked on some level.

Renee, would you be interested in a used copy? If you don't have one by our next gathering, let me know.

5:48 AM PST  
Blogger Christine said...

Rosie, I read Duran's novels in the opposite order that you did. First Duke of Shadows, then Bound By Your Touch, and then Written On Your Skin. I loved all three novels, but Duke of Shadows is by far my favorite. I think its tone is actually different from the latter two. A bit more sweeping and poignant... which I love. I actually fell into the story, as opposed to following the story, if that makes sense. Great review.

8:07 PM PST  

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