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Saturday, April 9, 2011

REVIEW: The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

5+ Stars!!! - Read September 2010

I had such a hard time letting this one go, that I just had to read it twice in a row!

Some reviews seem to come easier than others, but it seems the books that touch me the deepest are the hardest to write about. This was my first read of Meredith Duran’s work and it certainly won’t be my last! I LOVED this!!! AMAZING!!!

For me, The Duke of Shadows was like a rich, beautiful and complex tapestry. A tapestry depicting the tale of an epic love ... a love that spanned two continents.

I see the threads of Julian’s and Emma’s story as made up shades of earth browns, sand, blood and scarlet reds, ocean and midnight blues, grey, black, and interspersed with threads of gold sunshine. While this tapestry was mostly made up of dark hues, there was beauty within the darkness, and the bright moments were richer and all the more cherished.

The interlacing threads of Julian’s and Emma’s story were woven in tragedy and pain, through events in India in 1857 during the sepoy (Indian soldiers) rebellion against the British East India Company. These violent events unravelled them both in different ways, but the hidden threads tied them so strongly together in ways that neither could deny, in the end. They needed each other to stitch back the parts that were torn apart by the war.

Ms. Duran’s writing made me feel as if I was there in India, as if I could actually smell the night Jasmine and the gunpowder, and feel the heat, and the grit of sand from the dessert. Her prose is beautiful, evocative and almost poetic, weaving me deeply into the story.

I really appreciated this different setting from the usual Regency Historical Romance. Yet, there was still the familiar British culture and it was interesting to see the struggle of trying to transport the rules and etiquette where it did not fit.

I LOVED Julian Sinclair, Duke of Auburn! I related to his mixed British and Indian heritage, being Eurasian, myself, and I empathised with the struggles he faced and being shunned in both cultures. He belonged to neither, and he belonged to both. He was loyal – not to one culture over the other, but to those he loved. He loves intensely, and has a depth of patience and determination to be admired. His yearning for Emma was palpable, with attempts to mask it under his amused and mocking commentary. I am so in love with him. *sighs*

I loved Emma, too. Emmaline Martin, as a result of tragic events she had faced, was a melancholy character (but strong and fierce). This was an aspect I related to in her, as well as her artistic soul and how she dealt with the dark moments in her life through her art. Though, I, like Julian, longed to break through her dark tower, so that they could have the happily-ever-after they both deserved.

One of my favourite parts in this book was the moment the book title gained a deep significance. It made me see how Julian truly understood Emma. I also loved the scene in the London ballroom, which showed the depths of Julian's love for Emma, in that everyone else in the room became insignificant, save her. And I loved the intensity of "the globe scene"! *sighs*

This is not a book packed with love scenes. Each love scene was beautifully crafted by Ms. Duran as an essential element in the development of Julian’s and Emma’s relationship. One scene in particular was raw and powerful, marked by the hidden scars within them, and for these reasons, it moved me and I loved it.

This is no light and fluffy read. This is an achingly beautiful and evocative story, which resonated with me after I closed the last page, and still does, days later. And I know it will for years to come.

M favourite quotes:
"I'm not blind," he said, very low. "Words are not the only way we communicate, you and I. They never were."
"His fingers began to play lightly with hers. "I don't know why I come, myself, since no one seems willing to listen to me." She laughed weakly. Both of their hands were gloved, but the heat of his touch came through the cotton, and she had a sudden vivid image of his naked hand in hers. Their hands intertwined."

"His finger left a trail of warmth across her cheek, like the passing of a sunbeam. “I see," she said faintly, and had enough sense to bite down on the next words that came to her: Would you touch me again?"
" "Emma," he said quietly, and pressed a kiss to her parted lips. She stirred, small twitches and sleepy noises. He kissed her again, more deeply this time, and ran a hand down her side, to the swell of her hip. Her eyelashes fluttered up; color came into her cheeks. He smiled against her. Fairy tales were wasted on children. Until this moment, even he had not fathomed the power of waking someone with a kiss." 
“Her face was turned a little toward him. He kissed her softly on the mouth. No hedge of thorns had ever grown so thick as the cold with which she surrounded herself. With his lips and tongue he willed it to melt. Wake up, Emma. Sleep no longer.”

My image of Julian, with his luminescent green-gold eyes and golden tanned skin is Bollywood actor, Hrithik Roshan.
"His eyes were a luminescent green-gold, catlike as they reflected the faint light spilling from the bungalow."
"The man was unnervingly handsome - like something from a fever dream, brilliant and fierce, skin touched by gold and hair so black it absorbed the light. Earlier, indoors, she had found herself looking at him, thinking his face begged to be sketched. It would take only a few economical strokes - sharp angular slashes for his cheekbones, a bold straight nose, a fierce square for his jaw. Perhaps his lips would take more time. They were full and mobile, and saved his countenance from sternness.

He was very tanned. Doubt flickered through her mind, quashed as she considered his starched cravat and the elegantly cut tailcoat. Of course he was English."
My Julian Sinclair (Hrithik Roshan) 

A bit of man candy, though, I don't imagine Julian quite as big as this.

 My Emma Martin (Rachel Hurd-Wood):

While not quite what happened (though Julian would have wanted it to!),
I love this image and it reminded me of a scene from this book... *shivers*

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