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The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran
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The Duke of Shadows (2008)

by Meredith Duran

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Duke of Shadows

An incredibly well written story with a fascinating setting, appealing protagonists and a simply lovely romance.

Set in India during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, Meredith Duran manages to convey the horrific nature of the events and the devastating consequences for both sides without descending into excessive depictions of gratuitous violence.

Caught up in the danger, Emmaline Stone, newly arrived in India and betrothed to a British officer, and Julian Sincalir, a man of mixed Indian British heritage who belong in neither world, are forced to work together to survive the uprising and find themselves discovering an intense intimacy and passion.

Thankfully, the misunderstandings that come between them are not too drawn out and the couple overcome their differences without too much unnecessary angst.

In sum, this is my 2nd Meredith Duran novel and she has a knack for writing realistic stories with engaging characters and believable romances. Looking forward to my next one.
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  Lauren2013 | May 24, 2018 |
Slow to start, but around the midway point picked up speed and became rather interesting. Also a bit less conventional than most of these novels. The heroine is a knowledgeable artist and fairly strong-willed. And saves herself at different points. The hero is a quarter Indian. The military uprising that takes place in India is depicted from both an Indian and British perspective - neither side comes out well, particularly the British. The author underlines throughout the novel how difficult it was to a be a woman during this time period, how poorly women were treated by men, and how they did not have the same rights or freedoms. Racism is explored along with sexism, but it is made clear of the two - sexism is by far the worst.

It's odd but gender wars and the inequalities between the genders continue to be explored in greater depth in the romance novel than most other genres. This novel being a good example.

The sex scenes are better written than the last three-four books that I read, as are the action scenes.
Yet it does have flowery language in places.

Hardly great literature, but amongst the better written/ more memorable novels of its genre.
This writer clearly had something to say.

( )
  cmlloyd67 | Jun 7, 2015 |
A romance novel of the Victorian-era that is captivating, smart, lively, substantive, and well-written, "Intense passion and a sense of love thats totally palpable" writes another reviewer and I have to agree. Not cookie-cutter. Definitely a rereadable romance! ( )
  olongbourn | Mar 1, 2015 |
It's either a brave or a foolhardy author who chooses to set a romance in British India, and almost suicidal to focus on something as meticulously documented as the the uprising of 1857. Also, no matter how exhaustive the historical research, any new book will inevitably be compared with the masterpieces in this genre, some of them written by authors who were born and raised in India, and whose ancestors had first-hand experience of the uprising.

I have nothing but admiration for Ms Duran's confident and sure-footed negotiation of this literary minefield.

The story begins with English heiress Emma's arrival in Delhi to meet the ambitious military officer to whom she is betrothed. At a boring reception she crosses paths with Julian, heir to a dukedom but tainted by his biological, cultural and psychological connections with India.

Ms Duran skips the oft-recorded build-up to the uprising and, within a few pages of the opening, Emma and Julian are fleeing for their lives across the Indian countryside. Separated by necessity, Julian returns to Delhi while Emma takes refuge in the fortified home of a friendly Indian ruler. Her safety is short-lived and once again she has to go on the run, witnessing some of the horrific butchery inflicted by both sides.

She returns to England, utterly traumatized, and attempts to exorcise her inner demons by taking up residence in her country home and externalising the horrors in a series of dramatic paintings. At the first public showing of her paintings, she runs into Julian, who has been led to believe that she perished in the uprising. The romantic connection forged during their race across India is soured by Emma's anger at what she considers Julian's abandonment.

Subsequent development of this star-crossed romance is complicated by Emma's unwitting entanglement in a side-plot concerning treason during the uprising. If I have any criticism of this outstanding historical romance, it is the weight placed on this side-plot. More than enough tension is generated by the psychological conflict between Emma and Julian without bringing in a stereotyped suspense-story villain who threatens the life of the heroine, necessitating a last-minute rescue by the hero.

This is a very minor quibble, one reflecting my own preferences rather than an objective evaluation.

And talking of personal reactions, I wonder why Ms Duran chose to weave the events at Cawnpore into her story without going into details. It must have required immense self-control, or the heavy hand of a page-counting editor, to resist describing one of the most crucial and dramatic incidents in the uprising.

A complex and beautifully written novel that demands a second or third reading.

( )
  skirret | Jan 2, 2015 |
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For Shelley, who insisted I try again.
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"I won't." Her own voice sounded strange to her. Hoarse and low. So much salt water she'd swallowed. Her nose and throat burned, as if scrubbed out with lye. She coughed weakly. Beyond the hull of the overturned rowboat, the waves danced in an endless line to the horizon.
Just let go.
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Emmaline's plans to settle quietly into British Indian society topple after her fiance's betrayal, and she finds herself seeking help from Julian Sinclair - a man toasted as a hero in London and branded a traitor in India.

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