Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)'s Reviews > The Duke of Shadows

The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran
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The Duke of Shadows was a meaty, involving historical romance, the kind I love! I admit I put off reading this book because I wanted to be in the right mood for it. I was hesitant when I started it, feeling it would be too much for me right now. However, it turned out to be a good book to read at this time, because I was completely focused on the storyline.

I completely respect the way Ms. Duran addressed the setting of the British Raj in India, mid 1800s. She showed the complex issues at work: nationalism, prejudice, exploitation, cultural insensitivity, imperialism, loyalty, race; and for Julian and Emmaline, add falling in love to that picture. Although I have discussed with some romance fans who don't enjoy exotic settings about the tendency to pander to stereotypes or to oversimplify the pertinent issues, I enjoy exotic settings very much. Probably because I crave a good story of adventure and of travel to far away destinations--it adds another desirable layer to the escapist joy of romance reading. Of course, I do want to experience writing that does reach that 'next level,' and that addresses the important topics that go along with imperialism in a clear, thoughtful, and honest way. I feel that Ms. Duran did accomplish this in writing The Duke of Shadows.

As the descendant of African slaves, Native American tribespeople, and Irish immigrants to America, I can identify with the anger and sense of injustice of being under someone's economic and social yoke, with the wrong belief by the overrriding culture that they are bettering the savage or inferior race, showing a profund lack of respect for the beliefs and cultures of that 'conquered' group of people. I definitely could see the side of the native Indians, their land taken over, their cultures devalued, their people abused. On the other hand, the savagery in which the natives attack the British residents, civilian (including children and women) and soldier alike was very difficult and injust in a different way. Two wrongs never make a right. Duran shows both cultures at their best and their worst, making it clear that at the heart, we are all humans, good and bad.

I'm sure that Julian felt like he was being ripped in two by the uprising, having both Indian and English blood flowing in his veins. Not to mention that he never seemed to belong fully to either culture--too Indian to be a British person, and too British to be an Indian man. On top of that, was the fear that he couldn't protect Emmaline, the woman he'd fallen in love with, or his Indian relatives. This made for a very dramatic, somewhat shocking in parts, and extremely poignant read. Also, seeing Emma's breakdown and her struggle to survive after what she'd seen and experienced, and had to do for her survival. I can understand her anger at Julian in believing he'd failed to honor his promise to her, that he'd forgotten about her. Especially after the traumatic loss of her parents.

The reunion between these reunited lovers in London had me glued to the page. It was both what I would expect, and completely different. I was prepared to it to be powerful. I had not counted on Emma's rage. I didn't expect for Julian to be so out of control and primal in his need to hold Emma, even in polite company. Of course it made sense. Although their time together in India was short, a profound bond had formed, and their separation had left enormous holes in each other's hearts. They had come to love and rely on each other deeply, both in the tamer times in the British Raj, and during the fires of blood-soaked revolt. Despite all that had passed while they were separated, that love still simmered deep inside them both. However, they had to break past the barriers and the pain that Emma faced. From what I surmised, Julian would have taken up where they left off without a second thought, making Emma his duchess, since his love had never died. To my surprise, Emma turns out to be the more tortured person in this book. Julian's life had always been troublesome to some extent, because of his mixed heritage. He had many years to develop strong defense mechanisms that protected him from the scorn of society, and he had cultivated a reputation for being a fairly notorious, edge-riding member of the Ton. Not one easily dismissed, but not completely accepted by all in the snooty British society realms. For Emma, to go from being a coddled young girl with loving parents, to an orphan forced into a loveless engagement, to fighting for her life in a world in which she is hated and people want to kill her and her kind (and seeing her countrymen commit their own unspeakable acts of brutality), was no simple thing to recover from. It left deep scars on her psyche. It might have destroyed a more frail person, I'm sure.

Meredith Duran's writing reminds me of some of my favorite historical romance writers, like Laura Kinsale, Connie Brockway, and Anna Campbell, in a good way, although she establishes her own unique style and voice. It has a depth and an authenticity that shows me that she respects the time period and the impact of a historical romance with a powerful sense of period, texture, and intensity of emotion and passionate romance. Julian and Emma both are potent, vivid characters that resonated within me as I read. I think that Ms. Duran will likely become a favorite for the manner in which she writes, and the compelling charisma of her characters. This book just has that 'extra wow factor' that I look for in a historical romance, after more than twenty years of reading this genre.

Although there were parts of this novel that I felt weren't ideally paced, I think this is a five star read, because I was so involved and transfixed by this story. And I have to say this is an excellent effort for a first time author. I formed a bond with this book. I didn't just read it, I experienced the story of Julian and Emma as an active participant. The powerful pull into a story will urge me to give a book five stars, as I did in this case. Recommended!
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Quotes Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Liked

Meredith Duran
“Words are not the only way we communicate, you and I. They never were.”
Meredith Duran, The Duke of Shadows

Reading Progress

March 10, 2009 – Shelved
June 30, 2010 – Shelved as: historical-romance
June 25, 2011 – Shelved as: owned-copy
June 25, 2011 – Shelved as: set-in-india
June 25, 2011 – Shelved as: character-multi-ethnic-heritage
June 25, 2011 – Shelved as: starcrossed
June 25, 2011 – Shelved as: victorian
June 25, 2011 – Shelved as: angsty-read
June 25, 2011 – Shelved as: uf-challenge-summer-2011
August 20, 2011 – Started Reading
August 20, 2011 –
page 1
0.27% "I've been putting this off because it sounds really angsty."
August 23, 2011 –
page 150
August 23, 2011 –
page 217
58.49% "That was some reunion. I can see both sides of things-why Emma is so angry, but knowing that it wasn't Julian's fault."
August 23, 2011 – Shelved as: lovers-reunited
August 23, 2011 – Shelved as: back-from-the-dead
August 23, 2011 – Shelved as: prejudice
August 23, 2011 – Shelved as: hero-in-pursuit
August 23, 2011 – Shelved as: bad-boy-rake-or-rogue
August 23, 2011 – Shelved as: hero-i-loved
August 23, 2011 – Shelved as: heroine-i-loved
August 23, 2011 – Shelved as: artistic-hero-or-heroine
August 23, 2011 – Finished Reading
August 29, 2011 – Shelved as: 2011-reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 52 (52 new)

Denise Seems like you loved this one as well... I had a feeling you were going to love it !

message 2: by MelissaB (new) - added it

MelissaB Great review Danielle! I will get to this someday, I also have to be in the right mood.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Melissa. I think you'd like it.

Denise, you were right.

message 4: by Kristen (new) - added it

Kristen What a fabulous review! I've wanted to read this book for awhile but also know I, too, have to be in a certain mood to read it. After reading your review, I'm more excited than ever to read this book.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Kristen. This was a very well worthwhile read. I can completely see why it is highly rated.

Annie OMG what a great review.

Danielle you should write a book. You have a way with words.

I loved this book too.

Cheryl Excellent review! I received this book last year for Christmas but haven't read it yet. I knew it was a 'heavier' book so I have been waiting for the right moment. I'm hoping to pick it up soon... I'm in need of an excellent HR right now!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Cheryl. This definitely qualifies as an excellent HR! I've had this on my tbr pile for at least a couple of years now.

message 10: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen Great review! I felt the same way about this book. I loved it. The reunion part made me grab at my chest. It was so freaking emotional!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Jen. This book grabbed me hard!

Alice As soon as I finished reading this I knew I you would love it. I seriously couldn't put it down!

Angelc Danielle! I can't believe you are only just now reading this :) I actually like her later books even more than this one.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Alice, you were right.

Angelc, there is no rhyme or reason to how I choose my books to read. I am usually years behind on reading new books, if you haven't noticed already. :)

Angelc :) There's nothing wrong with that at all!! new book doesn't always equal good book :) I'm glad you liked it!

message 17: by Lady Jayne *~*The Beach Bandida*~* (last edited Aug 24, 2011 03:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

 Lady Jayne *~*The Beach Bandida*~* Wonderful review, Danielle! I loved all the points you brought up.

As I said, I love this book because it really resonated with me, being of mixed heritage, myself, but also because it was so richly textured and multi-layered, beautiful writing, and just characters I truly cared about. I was transported in this novel, and I was so moved. The reunion scene in the ballroom and the globe scene... Oh, my. I my heart ached and I was just entranced.

And yes, Duran showed both sides of the "British Raj" time. I really appreciated that she did that. I really like what you said here:

"Two wrongs never make a right. Duran shows both cultures at their best and their worst, making it clear that at the heart, we are all humans, good and bad."

 Lady Jayne *~*The Beach Bandida*~* MelissaB and Cheryl, you should definitely read this one!

message 19: by Shawna (new) - added it

Shawna Poignant review, Danielle! I've also been putting off reading this and waiting for when I'm in the right mood/mindset. I'm glad you enjoyed it 'cause that means I probably will, too!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Jayne. I remember your review and Dhestiny's really encouraged me to read this. I still put it off too long though!

Cheryl Lady Jayne *~*The Beach Bandida*~* wrote: "MelissaB and Cheryl, you should definitely read this one!"

I definitely will... I'm think one of the next books I'll pick up!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) I'll look for your review, Cheryl.

Thanks, Shawna. I think you will enjoy this one, and love Julian!

message 23: by Melissa (new) - added it

Melissa Great review ^^

message 25: by Vashti (new) - added it

Vashti great review Danielle,can you pm me please and tell me whether or not the heroine gets raped in tis book [I don't like to read books where the heroine has been raped]thanks.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Vashti. I can put it in a spoiler here, if you are cool with that. (view spoiler)

message 27: by Vashti (new) - added it

Vashti Thanks Danielle,will get this book now.You made it sound so good,it is now in my ami shopping cart.Thanks

message 29: by Vashti (new) - added it

Vashti Thanks

message 30: by Brylit (new)

Brylit WOW! You have really outdone yourself, I am almost overwhelmed by this review. It evokes so much insight and passion. This is one I've got to read! Brylit :)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Brylit. That means a lot!

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Great review, Danielle! Excellent! I agree with so much of what you said about it. I loved how she handled the political climate, and during the fighting, she had me on the edge of my seat. I felt as though I were there.

I enjoyed Not Quite a Husband for the same reasons.

Cheryl Just finished. AMAZING!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Dhestiny. I am tempted to read NQaH soon.

Cheryl, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Ally72 Danielle...I just sighed when I read your review. It was beautiful and I am downloading it right NOW onto my Kindle! I have only read one of Meredith Duran's books, but I have a feeling she is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish You'll love it, Ally. Truly. I adored this story, but my review doesn't even compare to Danielle's. *sigh* is right.

Ally72 Thanks Dhes...I am so loving The Many Sins of Lord Cameron right now, but I am almost done. I need another really, really, really good book to read so this might be it!

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Duke of Shadows is not a light read, but it's an excellent read!

Ally72 Thanks Dhes...I don't think I have a goodreads friend who hasn't love it!

message 40: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (last edited Aug 27, 2011 02:12PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) You guys are sweet. I love your reviews as well. I feel like I gush to much and I am way too mushy in reviews. So appreciate your support. I love you guys! Ally, I am really excited to read more of the Highland Pleasures series. I need to get back to them.

message 41: by AgentScully (new)

AgentScully Great great review, Danielle!

Melinda Jane Harrison Great review! This is definitely one of my favorite historical romances!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Melinda. I agree with you!

Ameaka Definitely the best HR I've read in a long while. Just curious though; has she written any book about Lord Lockwood? I generally hate series but he seems like a really interesting character. Not forgetting the mysterious appearance of his wife at the opera! :)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Hi Ameaka. Sorry to say I haven't gotten around to reading any of her other books yet, although they are on my pile. I hope someone can answer your question for you!

Carol *Young at Heart Oldie* Amazing review, Danielle! I've added it to my wish list.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Carol! I think you will love this book!

message 49: by Treece (new)

Treece Wonderful review!

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