Thursday, May 15, 2008

Duke of Shadows of Meredith Duran

2008 has been a great year in books overall and as the summer is upon us I realize there are so many more releases to look forward to. Also, it seems historical romance has improved greatly this year and one such author who has contributed to this is Meredith Duran. Duke of Shadows is Meredith’s freshman effort and I hope she will not become a one hit wonder in the publishing world. Did you known she won at where they held a contest for unpublished romance novelists? Meredith submitted the first chapter of Duke of Shadows there and won a publishing contract. Most of us have found Joanna Bourne to be our historical romance savior and I can say that Meredith Duran should be placed on the same pedestal. If you haven’t read Duke of Shadows, you should. This is a wonderful book with a different setting, two wonderful main characters and of course some very passionate love scenes.

Emmaline Martin has traveled all the way from England to be with her fiancé who is an officer in the British army and stationed in Delhi, India. Emma is still in major shock over the death of her parents. The ship she and her parents where on sunk and Emma was the only survivor. She is all alone and the British Colonists treat her like she has the plague. Her fiancé, who should be her rock to fall back on, is a major abusive ass. He really just wants her money and feels women should be seen and not heard. Emma is definitely not a woman who will stay quiet. I wouldn’t say she is that typical sassy and spunky heroine we usually read about, but rather a mature woman whose eyes hold so much within their depths.

Then one night at a party to honor her fiancé (Marcus), Julian Sinclair, who is Marcus’s cousin, notices Emma because she looks so bored. There is nothing extraordinary about her, but there is something he finds appealing. A simple phrase she mutters as he overhears her has him falling for her even though he doesn’t realize it at first. This happens right in the beginning where Emma is drinking a glass of wine and thinking she is alone, throws her wine into the bushes and says-“Pig swill.”

From that moment on, these two have a constant battle of wills and their conversations back and forth is a form of seduction and foreplay between these two. Emma is no wilting British miss as Julian assumes at first. Julian is not only a Marquess of the British realm but is of mixed English and native Indian descent caught in between both worlds. He would very much like to seduce Emma even though she is engaged to his dope of a cousin who Julian can’t stand. They form a shaky friendship where Emma, in turn finds the Marquess to be a strange yet at the same time a man who makes her feel alive for the first time since her parents’ death.

Before these two can really explore their passion for each other, the natives bring war upon the British and Emma is caught in the crossfire. Julian quickly comes to her rescue. And since these two have to rely on each other, their attraction for each other explodes. Julian realizes this is not some woman he can tally with. The scene where they first make love is all consuming and the words between these two are so very beautiful:

“I’m here,” he said into her ear as the tears came faster. “Emma, I’m here with you now. Listen to me: I will always be here.”
Always, she thought. He said “always,” but he had forgotten to say finally. Finally you are here. Thank God, finally at last.

Those few lines are very telling for what is about to come because Julian must leave Emma. Emma is changed forever because she first lost her parents and now found Julian, who told her he will be with her forever, and that she will never be alone again. He leaves her because he must and then they don’t see each other for another three years where Emma has undergone a radical change.

When these two see each other again, they are in England. Julian thought Emma was dead and when they meet, the emotions on his face show the hell he has gone through. Emma saw so much bloodshed and horror, that she still suffers and uses her pain to paint horrific paintings of her time in India as she waited for Julian to come back to her. They are no longer lovers or even friends.

The first part of the story when Emma and Julian are in India is amazing, but somewhat stalls during the second half in England. Someone is trying to kill Emma, but regardless of some lagging, Duke of Shadows still kept me hooked. This is quite an intelligent and emotional story of suffering and angst. The setting and characters are so different and fascinating that you will not want to take your eyes away from the page.

If this is a start of Meredith’s writing career, I can’t wait to be along for the ride!

4 out of 5 stars

Katiebabs (KB)


Ana said...

Yay! You read it!
I agree with you, the first part was amazing, perfect really and the second less so.

We will be posting an interview with Meredith Duran this coming Saturday where she tells everything about how the book camer to be published, the research of the Indian setting and what comes next!

Katie(babs) said...

Ohhh can't wait to read your interview. :D

ames said...

Great review Katie. I haven't read this yet, but thank god I have it in my tbr pile. It sounds awesome!!

azteclady said...

Me, want this badly.

Me, don't have it yet.

Me, sad kitty :pout:

Tracy said...

I read this this past weekend and really liked it. I agree that it kind of fizzled on Part Two of the book but I still couldn't seem to put it down! Great review!

Ana - can't wait to read the interviEW!

Kristie (J) said...

Oooohhh - and I have this one!! Moving it further up on the old TBR pile!

Stacy~ said...

I really, really enjoyed this book, couldn't get it out of my head for days. I agree part 2 faltered, but overall, the story worked for me. I will definitely buy more of this author's work.

Brie said...

I read the first half and loved it. When I made it to the second half sorta lost interest and put it away. I plan on picking it back up soon, It bugs me to leave a book unread.

The Bonz said...

I read this book about a month ago already, and have been pimping it out to everyone who will listen to me. It really put me in mind of books I read back in my highschool days, by Madeline Brent ... far-off unusual settings with a twist of mystery, danger & romance. The book definitely had a few week spots but overall I heartily recommend it.

— Bonz

Katie(babs) said...

Hey Bonz! I feel the same way you do. :D Can't wait to see what her next release will be!