The Duke of Shadows

The Duke of Shadows

by Meredith Duran

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416585886
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication date: 05/11/2010
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 127,656
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Meredith Duran is the USA TODAY bestselling author of thirteen novels. She blames Anne Boleyn for sparking her lifelong obsession with British history (and for convincing her that princely love is no prize if it doesn’t come with a happily-ever-after). She enjoys collecting old etiquette manuals, guidebooks to nineteenth-century London, and travelogues by intrepid Victorian women.

Read an Excerpt


One

Delhi

May 1857

Julian first noticed her because she looked so bored. Waiting for the Commissioner's arrival had put him on edge. He stood at the top of the room, half attending to the feverish chatter around him, his eyes fixed on the door. Rumors in the bazaar daily grew darker, and it was clear to him now that if Calcutta would not act, the local government must. Tonight he meant to exact a promise on that account.

He became aware of the woman gradually. It was her stillness that drew his attention. She was leaning against a wall, not ten feet away. Though several people surrounded her, sipping negligently at their wine and laughing, she seemed somehow apart. Tired of it all. Her eyes, which had been resting vacantly on the space over his shoulder, focused on him. They were a penetrating blue, and gave Julian a start. He saw that she was not bored at all, but unhappy.

She looked away.

He spotted her next in the green room, after the Commissioner slipped out of his grasp. "After dinner," the man mumbled, "if you truly insist on mixing business with pleasure, I would be most, most honored to speak with you." When Julian wheeled away in abrupt, frustrated dismissal, he discovered her behind him, the wineglass halfway to her lips. Again their eyes met, and she lowered the glass.

"Sir," she said evenly, bobbing a shallow curtsy. Something in her tone indicated she'd overheard the tail end of his argument with Fraser. He opened his mouth to respond -- after all, the lady had seemed to be waiting for him -- but she had already retreated in a swish of cornflower silk, and he was not in the mood for a chase.

He began to wonder about the coincidence when she drifted after him into the garden. Was she following him? In London he might have felt some faint, predatory stirring of interest -- he enjoyed women, particularly those who spared him the trouble of pursuit -- but he had a policy of avoiding memsahibs. Their husbands were rarely understanding, and they themselves tended to be so bored by life on a British station that passing love affairs quickly inflated to their entire reason for being. There was also an absurd set of ideas circulating about him in Anglo-Indian circles, variations on the theme of exotic Eastern eroticism, and he'd long since grown weary of it.

But she did not, in fact, seem to know he was there. She paused at the edge of the lawn, one hand coming to her throat, and seemed content to stand there, an abstracted look on her face. A breeze came over the grass, and her fingers loosened, letting the shawl flutter around her shoulders. Fleetingly, her pale lips curved in a smile.

Again, he was struck by the impression that she stood at a great remove from the scene around her. Curious. He studied her more closely, finding nothing of special note. Her hair was an unremarkable color, a curling, sun-faded dun that, in conjunction with her pale skin, made it seem as though all the energy of her being were focused in the brilliance of her deep blue eyes. A very odd sort of beauty, if a beauty at all. He wondered if she had recently been ill.

The thought made him impatient with himself. She was young, no more than twenty-two or -three years, with smooth white skin that bespoke a typical memsahib's routine. What was there to wonder about her? She would spend her days closeted in a bungalow, reading or at needlepoint. When the monotony began to wear, she would take heart in her zealous belief that the English way of life was the only one of merit in the world.

She muttered something beneath her breath. Despite himself, he leaned forward. He could not quite make it out. Surely she had not said --

With a violent gesture, she splashed her wine into the bushes. "Pig swill," she said clearly.

The garden was not cool, but it was quiet. Emma turned her face into the sultry breeze and let her eyes drift shut. Had Mrs. Greeley been speaking the truth? Either way, the woman must have been surprised at Emma's impassive reception of the news. It was unpleasant, of course; one didn't often learn that one's betrothed was conducting a torrid affair with a married woman. But the act seemed entirely in keeping with the person Marcus had become since their engagement.

Perhaps it was this land that had changed him so. Emma had been here only a few weeks, but already she sensed that India had taken hold of her: loosening her tongue, widening her eyes. Even now, when her mind should have been racing with the implications of Mrs. Greeley's words, the gentle swaying of the trees and the parrots twittering in the branches above distracted her from thought. The night air mantled her bare shoulders, thick and warm, so richly perfumed with night-blooming jasmine that she wondered if she would carry the scent back inside with her.

A bullock lowed in the distance. She felt a brief stirring of pity, imagining he was confused at the excess of liberty granted him by the native culture. As to why the cattle were encouraged to wander through the streets, Marcus had told her that the Hindus believed them to be some sort of deities, but he hadn't been able to elaborate. Marcus was often impatient with details.

This party, for instance. He should have told her, given her some warning regarding the people she would meet. Within five minutes it had become clear that Delhi society was no friend to her, that news of the shipwreck and her "dishonorable" rescue had tainted local opinion. Instead he'd let her march inside like a lamb to the slaughter, encouraging her to mingle with the sharp-tongued harpies whilst he conferred with the Commissioner.

All this, and then to discover he was having an affair with the hostess!

Well, it was clear that whatever they did when alone together, Marcus had not reviewed Mrs. Eversham's wine list for her. He was possessed of impeccable taste. With a scoff she tossed the remnants of her Bordeaux into the shrubbery. "Pig swill!"

The quiet laugh startled her, and she gasped, squinting into the shadows. "Who's there?"

A form emerged from the trees, offering her a toast from a silver flask. "Pig swill indeed," he said, and lifted the pocket-pistol to his lips for a long swallow.

She relaxed slightly at the Oxford drawl, which complemented a deliciously low, rough voice. "Pray do not relay my sentiments to our hostess, sir." Or perhaps do, she added silently.

Another step brought him full out of darkness, and she caught her breath. It was the man from indoors -- the one with whom she had nearly collided earlier. Once again, his height took her off guard. He was taller even than Marcus, and a full head over her own considerable height.

His eyes were a luminescent green-gold, catlike as they reflected the faint light spilling from the bungalow. They watched her as though he waited for something.

"Are we acquainted?" she blurted out -- knowing very well they were not.

He gave her a faint smile. "No."

When he said nothing more, she arched a brow, returning rude stare for rude stare. At least, she hoped it was rude, for she suspected she might be ogling him. 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 the cheek-bones, a bold straight line for his 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 elegantly cut tailcoat. Of course he was English. The lazy grace with which he held himself made her aware of her own unmannerly slouch. She straightened, lifting her face toward the stars.

"A lovely night," she said.

"Pleasant weather," he agreed, eliciting a startled laugh from her.

"You must be joking!" she said, when he tilted his head in question. "It's dreadfully hot."

"Do you think so?" He shrugged. "Then I suggest you withdraw to Almora. The hill stations are quite popular this time of year."

His reference to the tradition of retreating to the Himalayan foothills during the hot weather sounded almost contemptuous. "You don't plan to go?"

"Business holds me here."

"Business. You're with the Company, then?" Most everyone she had met so far was in the employ of the East India Company, either as a civil servant or, like Marcus, as an officer in the army.

But he appeared mightily amused by the idea. "Dear God, no. I see my reputation does not precede me."

"Oh, is it very bad?" The question was out of her mouth before she could reconsider, and she blushed as he laughed again.

"It's even worse."

When she realized he wasn't going to elaborate, she ventured to continue. "You'll have to tell me about it yourself; I've only just arrived in Delhi, you see."

"Really?" He sounded surprised. "I didn't know they raised chits like you in England."

"Chits like me?" She frowned. He had settled back against a tree trunk and was smiling at her indulgently, as if -- suddenly it came to her -- she were some three-year-old who had just shown him a neat trick with her doll. "Are you being insulting?"

"I meant you seem to have some spirit."

"You are being insulting," she decided. "To me and England both."

"Well then." He sighed and rolled his shoulders; his coat fit closely enough to reveal the ripple of arm muscles beneath the fabric. She wondered what he had done to acquire them; it was not at all the fashion. "Now you've discovered the first part of my reputation. I am considered terribly ill-mannered."

"But I knew that the moment I saw you! A gentleman would refrain from drinking spirits in the presence of a lady."

His brows rose. "And a lady would not call her hostess's wine -- what was it? Pig swill, I believe?"

Her laughter was reluctant, but genuine. "All right, you've found me out. I'm a black sheep as well. Really, it's a wonder my intended will have me."

"Paragon of virtue, is he?"

"Not quite," she said dryly. "But they'll forgive him just about anything." The conversation was utterly inappropriate, of course; but she had forgotten how good it felt to joke and be silly with someone, and to be spoken to without those ever-present undertones of pity and speculation. "In fact, someone inside just called him the Darling of Delhi."

"He sounds dreadfully dull. Do I know him?"

"Oh, you must. This party is in honor of us, you know -- of our engagement." His sudden stillness made her frown, and she searched his face, concerned that she might have embarrassed him. "If you don't know who the party's for, I promise not to tell."

"Oh, I know." His voice was very soft now. "That would make you Miss Martin."

"Indeed! And now you must tell me your name, so I won't be at a disadvantage."

His cat's eyes moved over her shoulder, and he smiled again, this time rather unpleasantly. "Here comes your betrothed," he said, and took a deep swig from the flask.

"Emmaline! There you are!"

She turned back toward the doors, shielding her eyes from the light. "Marcus!" He was yanking his cravat in place, and she wondered acidly if he hadn't been waylaid by their hostess somewhere between the Commissioner and the garden. "I was taking some air," she said. "Flannel is horribly ill suited to this climate."

Marcus stepped into the yard. "I hardly think that's appropriate for public discussion," he said severely. "And I did warn you about the weather, but you insisted -- " His voice died away as he stared at her companion. "What in blazes are you doing here?"

"Lindley," the man said curtly. "A pleasure."

Marcus made a rude noise. "I'm sure I can't say the same. I had no idea Mrs. Eversham was so indiscriminate with her guest list."

Emma glanced rapidly between them. The stranger's expression was perfectly neutral; Marcus, on the other hand, was glaring and breathing like a bull. "Marcus, really! This gentleman -- "

"Knows he is not welcome," Marcus said. "Not anywhere I am, and certainly nowhere near my future wife. I would suggest you leave now, sir."

The man shrugged. "Of course." Slipping the flask inside his jacket, he sketched a shallow bow. "Accept my congratulations on your betrothal, Lindley. Miss Martin is utterly charming."

"You soil her by speaking of her," Marcus snapped. "Beware lest I call you out for it!"

Now she was truly alarmed. Something about this man -- perhaps his slight smile at Marcus's threat -- made her think he would be more than a match for her intended. "Gentlemen, this is absurd!"

"Come with me." His hand tightening cruelly into her forearm, Marcus all but dragged her back into the bungalow.

Inside, the sudden brightness of numerous lamps and candelabras made her wince. She pulled Marcus to a stop at the edge of the crowd, beneath one of the giant fans hanging from the ceiling. Its starched chintz streamers were wilting in the humidity. "I cannot credit your behavior," she said. "How could you behave so loutishly!"

"How could I?" Marcus pulled her around to face him. "Do you know who that man is? Do you know?"

"Stop shaking me!" She yanked her arm from his grip. The strong, sour odors of wine and sweat were rising from his skin. Maybe he had overindulged tonight, but that was no excuse. "What has come over you?"

"That is my cousin," he managed, his face purple. "That is the half-breed who would have the dukedom instead of me."

"That -- " She stopped, understanding. "That man is Julian Sinclair?"

"One and the same."

She turned away from him, staring blindly toward the dancers. Marcus had written to her of his second cousin, Julian Sinclair. Sinclair's father, Jeremy, had married a Eurasian, a woman of mixed English and native descent, when he had thought his brother the Marquess would have the dukedom. But within a short period, the cholera had killed Jeremy, and the Marquess had died in a hunting accident. That left Jeremy's young son as heir to the dukedom -- Julian, whose blood was one-quarter native.

Now Julian Sinclair was grown, and his grandfather, the current duke, had made sure through every legal means that his grandson would follow him in the succession. But Marcus could not accept the idea that a man of mixed blood might inherit the title, when Marcus, pure-blooded English and in line after Sinclair to inherit, might himself wear the strawberry leaves so well.

"He didn't seem Indian," she whispered to herself.

"Of course he didn't!" Marcus exploded. "The Duke has done everything in his power to assure it -- Eton, Cambridge, a seat in the Commons. But while a man can ape his betters, he can't change his blood. The proudest title in Britain is to go to a half-breed mongrel!"

She looked back to him, stunned. "Marcus, you sound so...hateful."

He stared at her, his mouth thinning into a grim line. "Is that so? To think, you've been here only five days, and already you're starting to pant after the natives. What would your parents say?"

She winced. A servant was passing with a tray of wine; she reached out and snared a glass. "That is cruel."

"Cruel but true. Even in death, they knew the honor of being Martins."

She took a deep swallow of the wretched Bordeaux and shut her eyes. Again and again it returned to haunt her -- this image of her parents' faces, so small and pale as the ocean closed over them. The pain of their deaths did not fade; most nights, she still awoke weeping from nightmares of drowning with them. Only a miracle had guided her to the gig on which she had floated for almost a day; only God had given her the strength to cling to it as the hot sun beat down and she despaired of ever being found.

She set the glass on a sideboard and looked directly at him. The atmosphere was close and torpid, and sweat was trickling down her nape; strange, then, that she felt so cold. "You think it would have been more honorable to let myself drown?"

After a mute, stubborn moment, his face softened, and he reached for her hands. "No, my dear, of course not."

But she wondered. After all, he could play with his precious honor all he liked, risking it with his conspicuous philandering, his exorbitant gambling debts. But to have that honor tarnished by a woman! Surely it must irk him, to risk being made a laughingstock by upholding a betrothal with a woman of questionable reputation -- a woman who had arrived in India sheltered not under the watchful gaze of her mother and father, but by a crew of rough-and-ready sailors. Those sailors had saved her life, but Anglo-Indian society was wondering if they hadn't robbed her of something even more important: her virtue.

Naturally, the fact that her betrothed's virtue was completely and publicly compromised was of no import at all.

She lifted her chin. "Oh, I was only speaking with him, Marcus. Do let's forget it. There's no need to look so grim."

Marcus exhaled. His eyes began to search the crowd beyond her shoulder. "I'm wondering why he hasn't been thrown out by now."

"Perhaps because he's the Marquess of Holdensmoor?"

He slanted her a sharp glance. "I'm not in the mood for your cheek, Emmaline. And for your information, the man's a threat to the Crown. He's been stirring up talk of a possible insurrection, trying to goad us into abandoning Delhi. Thinks our native troops might turn on us."

"Gracious! Might they?"

He waved a dismissal. "It's treason even to think it. No, of course they won't. We give them the bread their families eat in the morning. Just because of some silly nonsense at Barrackpore -- "

Yes, she remembered that. It had been all the talk in Bombay upon her arrival in the port city. A sepoy, a native soldier, had turned on his British officers. He had shot two of them before he was stopped by his superiors; what had been so alarming, if she recalled correctly, was that none of the other natives had attempted to disarm him.

"He does have a point," she said. "It's a bit troubling."

"It was one isolated incident in more than two hundred years on this continent. And the man was directly hanged. We'll have no more trouble along those lines, I assure you."

"But if Lord Holdensmoor is partly native, perhaps he has heard something -- "

"Emmaline!" Marcus wheeled to face her. "Yes, the man is part native, and for all I know, he's trying to scare us out of Delhi so the natives can take it back! In fact, I believe that is exactly what he is up to, and I have told the Commissioner so! Now cease your ignorant speculations and make yourself pleasant for your host."

"My host? Do you mean the one you're cuckolding?"

All color bleached from his face. Oh dear. Blond hair didn't look so well on skin that particular shade of green. "What did you just say?" he asked.

"So it's true." Nausea rolled through her stomach. "Well. I suppose you're going to tell me you still love me anyhow."

His eyes, such a guileless shade of blue, searched her face. "Of course I do."

She managed a smile. "Yes. We have loved each other quite a long time, haven't we? Since we were born, I believe."

"Since forever," he said, with an admirable show of sincerity. "And whatever rumors you hear to the contrary, there is no woman in the world for me but you. Some people are jealous, you see, and they would spread vicious gossip in order to harm me -- "

"I know," she interrupted, and then stopped, swallowing hard when her voice would have broken. How sad to realize that she could no longer believe a word he said. "Marcus, I think I'd like to leave now."

He considered her for a moment, then gave a short nod. "Of course. But I will call on you at the Residency tomorrow. We'll discuss this, and you'll see, my dear. These lies -- you must simply set them from your mind."

"Naturally," she murmured. "If you'll find Lady Metcalfe for me?"

She leaned back against the wall, watching him push his way through the congratulatory crowd as he went in search of her chaperone. Even though his back was turned, she knew every gesture that he made, sensed every smile that crossed his face. Such was the familiarity of twenty long years -- decades of their families plotting to bring them together, arranging their betrothal, choosing the names of their unborn children. The Martins and Lindleys had never known that the only two who would live to fulfill their dream would be the very two who had never been quite as enthusiastic as the rest: the bride and groom themselves.

She closed her eyes, turning her head to press her cheek against the cool bungalow wall. The windows rattled in a strong gust of hot wind, and the candles flickered with the inrush of jasmine and darkness. Strange, how the night called to her so sweetly, promising a lovelier, more innocent place. Yes, India seemed to draw out her very soul. Perhaps that was why she felt so bruised inside -- as though her defenses had been laid bare, allowing a terrible melancholy to settle in her core.

Surely she wasn't grieving over Marcus? She had abandoned her childish dreams of romantic love three years ago, the first time she'd learned of one of his many paramours. She'd been heartbroken then, but her mother had explained quickly enough: marriage was not about something as illusory and fleeting as love. It was about alliances, partnerships, the continuation of the family line. Marcus's grand and crumbling estates would be consolidated with the vast Martin wealth, and the two of them would create a dynasty that would compensate for her mother's failure to produce male issue.

So, what, then, could account for this sudden foreboding? It slid like a shadow between her and the brightly lit room, leaving her with the odd conviction that she stood apart, watching a great panorama like those they sometimes displayed in the British Museum. This room seemed like Pompeii before the volcano eruption, or Rome before the fall: a civilization on the edge of disaster.

A shiver slid over her, and she glanced away, starting as she found herself locked in a vibrant emerald gaze: Lord Holdensmoor, coming in from the gardens. His face was expressionless as he stared at her. In defiance of both Marcus and her own gloomy reverie, she offered him a smile.

His own was rakish and swift, the effect of it on his aloof, aristocratic features dazzling to behold. And then he too was gone, his tall, broad form swallowed up by the crowd in a cloud of crushed silk and waving peacock feather fans.

Copyright © 2008 by Meredith McGuire

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Duke of Shadows 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
G.Craig More than 1 year ago
This romance has the usual handsome, smoldering duke and the proper young miss thrown together, each to find true love and understanding and passion in the other. Now, I've said that as if it were a bad thing, but it's not. That formula allows lots of room for the writer to explore character and growth, and Duran does that. This romance is set in India, in the Raj, during a time of dangerous unrest. That alone, with Duran's skillful use of historical fact and vibrantly described places, is worth the read. Another twist on the expected romance tale is that the characters face a quite lengthy spell of pain and grief which is not at all sure to be resolved. If one were not up on the genre, one could easily believe that these two will never make each other happy. In other words, Duran has written a complex character novel with a fascinating setting. A very good read. I recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In a phenomenally written historical romance about the Rebellion in India during the mid-1800¿s, Ms. Duran brings the splendor and trauma of this time to life and shows the richness of a culture that fought to remain, and the soldiers of England who were traumatized by this war. Yet in all the chaos, there is beauty and love between two remarkable characters, the very young and beautiful Emmaline Martin and the handsome and cynical Julian Sinclair, The Duke of Auburn. When Emma¿s fiancé¿s betrayal leaves Emma trapped in India with no other family to help save her and get her out of India, she has no choice but to turn to Julian for help. The situation they find themselves in turns into an attraction for each other that deepened into an intense love. During the turmoil of the rebellion, Julian loses Emma and thinking her dead, returns to England and mourns her for years. But Emma is very much alive and has felt deserted by Julian. Using her talent as an artist, she sketches and paints the horrors of the India Rebellion over the years and is then encouraged to show her art in a special showing. Julian, struggling through his mourning, is finally pushed to return to society. Considered a traitor in India and a hero in London, Julian feels lost in both worlds until without Emma until he attends the special art show, recognizes the artist by the work he sees and discovers his Emma is alive! Emma¿s love has turned to indifference at feeling abandoned, while Julian¿s deep loss turns to anger at the thought that Emma was alive and never contacted him. But the years of feeling betrayed between them both has really intensified their love. Will Emma and Julian learn to come to terms with the past and the present, while at the same time discovering who the real traitor in India was? In this well-written story, there is much intensity, mystery, and sensuality in a story that shows the ugliness of war, yet beauty and love that can rise from it all. Ms. Duran has done a wonderful job at research about a complicated time in history. The characters have such depth throughout the span of time of the story. It is sensual in a way that no other story could be given the time and situation the characters find themselves in. A Gather.com contest winner, The Duke of Shadows is truly a wonderful debut that reads as if it were written by a master of history and romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thie was a great read. It touched one many themes such as to religions, prejudice, love and war using characters over a great length of time revealing depths to them both in their mutual fight for survival. Travel from war torn India to London searching to unite a love both main characters want but fear. This story focuses on a part of history not usually explored in any depth. The characters have their moments when you want to shake them into action or call them foolish for their inability to see what's in front of them but alas that is the very basis of why we read romance novels to begin with. Overall the way the book is divided into a kind of before and after with a treacherous villain just waiting to arrive. You can truly feel some of the pain and shock of seeing the world through a witness of war who finds love in its midst.
romance_readerLD More than 1 year ago
Not for the faint of heart, Duran gives us an intense and compelling novel.
Romance_Bibliophile More than 1 year ago
I have never been so moved to write a review before but this book demands notice. Heart-wrenching, gripping, dramatic are just some of the words that come to mind. It places two oustanding characters in a pre-uprising in India and follows them back to England. The plot, historical setting and elements of the story are strinkingly vivid. At its heart are the characters that deserve a satisfying happy ending. I would have enjoyed more time for them to be together before the story ended but it doesn't diminish the story in anyway. This story has stayed with me long after reading!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Historically accurate, compelling and unforgettable characters. I was moved to tears in some places. I could not put the book down until I had finished it, and then I began to read it again. It's a great book -- one I plan to keep!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a keeper. Not for the casual romance reader. This one has great depth, character devekopment and historical color. These characters go through a lot of pain and it really isn't clear how it will end. I recommend this book if you are looking fir something a little different.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fantastic book, my second or third by this author. Very real, very likable characters and lots of chemistry. A very complex storyline set against a vivid historical backdrop. In particular, the dialogue in the middle section is spectacular. I loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its been a long time since I've read a book with so much historical content creating a wonderful tale that keeps you captivated. A new author I'll gladly add to my book shelf!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great history, amazing character development. Very vivid and engrossing. I couldn't sleep until I finished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did enjoy reading this book. At times, it was a page turner to keep reading on to see what happens next. Some unpleasant details of war, but the story kept me interested.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really different from most romance novels couldnt put it down!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldnt sleep till the book was done.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1857 her parents died in the shipwreck that Emmaline Martin was fortunate to survive. Although grieving she continues the journey to Delhi, India to meet up with her fiancé Marcus. He not only proves arrogant and snooty, he betrays her as the sepoy native soldiers revolt against the British. Half native and English heir Julian Sinclair saves her life bringing her to safety in the independent desert city Sheened, but they are separated when he follows his duty back to Delhi to negotiate a peace between the warring parties. When he returns to Sheened, she is gone he can not find her so he sadly assumes she died. Shortly afterward Julian goes to England as a duke. --- In 1861, paintings of India become the rage of London. Julian is ecstatic to find the artist is Emma as he never forgot her from their brief moments together. As they finish what they had no time to peruse in India, falling in love, someone tries to kill his Emma. Julian risks his life to keep her safe as he will not allow anyone ever again to split them apart. --- Though somewhat typical of the Victorian romance, fans of the sub-genre will appreciate THE DUKE OF SHADOWS as two honorable individuals, outcasts in many ways, fall in love. Especially refreshing is the India sequence as readers observe the Anglo-native interactions. Emma and Julian turn Meredith Duran¿s historical into an entertaining read. --- Harriet Klausner
GretchenCraig on LibraryThing 8 months ago
THE DUKE OF SHADOWS by Meredith DuranThis romance has the usual handsome, smoldering duke and the proper young miss thrown together, each to find true love and understanding and passion in the other. Now, I¿ve said that as if it were a bad thing, but it¿s not. That formula allows lots of room for the writer to explore character and growth, and Duran does that. This romance is set in India, in the Raj, during a time of dangerous unrest. That alone, with Duran¿s skillful use of historical fact and vibrantly described places, is worth the read. Another twist on the expected romance tale is that the characters face a quite lengthy spell of pain and grief which is not at all sure to be resolved. If one were not up on the genre, one could easily believe that these two will never make each other happy. In other words, Duran has written a complex character novel with a fascinating setting. A very good read. I recommend it.
Catherine331 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Every once in a while I will find a book that will move me. It's more than just enjoying the storyline or characters or even just the beauty of the prose. It's all that and more. It's some indefinable spark in the story that draws me in and makes me feel transported. I love when I find that quality. It varies from person to person, but wherever it's found it's something to be treasured. I found that quality in this book. I know that it is one that I will be able to read again and again and still find some new element of the story that will entrance me all over again.I loved the undercurrents in the characters. There was never anything cut and dry about them. There was always layer after layer of meaning and motivation behind their actions. So much tragedy surrounded them, but so much strength too. The personal tragedies compounded by the tragedies they experienced during the revolt in India made for very complex characters. As I read the story I kept thinking about Jo Goodman's books. This author gave me the very same qualities that I love about Goodman's books.Emma was a very well drawn character. She came off as very dark to me, even in the beginning. The death of her parents seemed to seep into her. Her indifference toward her betrothed's betrayals and total change of character, as well as her dissatisfaction with society seemed to echo that depression in her. The passage:"She sat down. The solitude suited her. She had known the room would be deserted; it was too early for damage to have been done to dresses and gloves. Later, women would crush inside, anxiously pacing the floor as their ayahs struggled along behind, patching ripped hems and scrubbing at stains. The charm of the shadows would fade, and the music would be drowned out by snapped complaints and snickered gossip."And this is my life," she whispered. This was what she had fought so hard to survive for when she had floated for endless hours on the breast of the ocean, the sun cracking her skin and settling salt beneath her fingernails." (pg. 49)particularly moved me. Throughout the story the sadness and hopelessness seemed to breathe off the pages. It was very beautiful. It seemed at times, from my point of view at least, that she was almost suicidal. Which is an odd perception, because when in danger she never seemed to want to die. I just couldn't shake the thought that she teetered a little too close to wanting to be totally lost. Things like this passage:"He grasped her face in his hands to slant her head, to give him deeper access, to fill her. Yes, do it, she thought, consume me, swallow me whole. Odd feelings with no root tore through her. She felt frenzied, almost angry, ready to jump out of her skin. He would take her before she went. How would she go? Would she die? Would she face the water again? Could anyone keep the promises she suddenly wanted from him?" (pg. 131)made me really wonder about her state of mind. I don't know though... It was in the middle of a love scene. Possibly it was just an expression of how consumed by him she was? Either way, it just made me more fascinated by her character.Julian was less well drawn than Emma. I appreciated the author showing the dueling cultures in his nature. The fact that no matter what he did, he would never be a true part of either country made him a very sympathetic character. In truth, the most intriguing parts of his character came in moments that gave more depth to Emma. I particularly liked the insight he showed in the fragment of the poem he quoted to her. I think that a defining moment of the change in her character came when she discovered what he had meant by that statement. I don't know if these thoughts of his character make it really only Emma who carried the story or whether Julian only really came to life when dealing with her.I liked all of the love scenes, especially because they seemed to add something to the story. The love scene that occurred at Mr. Cothurst's house touched me in particu
amf0001 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Enjoyably intense romance, set in India and London, following the path of Emmaline Martin, who survives the death of her family, her odious fiance (I guess they always have to be odious) and the enigmatic Julian Sinclair. This book had unexpected depth and richness. The descriptions of India were so vivid and detailed, and Emma's actions in London so interesting. I liked spending time with these lovers and was glad that it worked out for them in the end.
dkthain on LibraryThing 8 months ago
After surviving a horrific tragedy when the ship Emmaline Martin was sailing to India on sinks and she is the only survivor, she arrives in India and it¿s apparent to her that she doesn¿t fit in with the rest of English society. She doesn¿t hold the same disdain for the people of India that so many of her fellow British residents do. Engaged since she was young to a Colonel in the army there, she is dismayed by his numerous peccadilloes. Then she meets Julian Sinclair and some excitement begins in her life. Julian is the heir to a dukedom, but still unaccepted in the exclusive society due to his Indian blood. But there is an attraction between Emmaline and Julian that can¿t be denied. When mutiny erupts across the land, Julian takes her to safety and then must leave her to see to his Indian family.And this is only the first part of the book. The second half takes place five years later back in England. Julian thought that Emmaline died in the mutiny and Emmaline thinks that Julian abandoned her. When Julian discovers her not only alive, the artist of a series of stunning and scandalous paintings of the rebellion, he also discovers that Emmaline is not the same hopeful yet innocent young woman he had fallen in love with.Quite simply, I loved this book! I loved Emmaline and the sufferings she has endured. In the second half of the book, she is frozen inside, yet still full of passion and determined to hate Julian for his abandonment. When she discovers the truth; that he searched endlessly for her, she still holds him at arms length due to her actions while still in India. My heart broke for her in everything she went through.I also enjoyed Julian though he was still a bit of a mystery. We didn¿t learn much of him until later in the book.The writing is powerful and it¿s reminiscent of Shadow of the Moon by M.M. Kaye, a book I read and loved years ago.I know this is a book I¿ll reread again!
allureofbooks on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran is one of those books with such a rich and developed atmosphere that the story immediately sucks you off into another time and place. If you're a fan of historical romance, that statement alone should be enough to make you want to pick this book up!Emmaline and Julian have pretty explosive chemistry from the start. The intensity of their connection actually took me off guard at first - Meredith Duran is fantastic at writing believable and deep emotions (and she also has a deft hand with the love scenes...). The first half of the book takes place in British occupied India. Things are getting dangerous, so Emmaline has to figure out who to trust pretty quickly - Julian definitely steps up to the plate and does his best to protect her. The book ends up skipping a few years ahead and finds our characters back in London. How much have circumstances changed?India in the 19th century is actually one of my favorite settings - moving the British aristocracy to an exotic setting adds a lot of richness to the atmosphere of the book. Loved. Loved. Loved. The first half of the book was exceptional and had me thinking I'd found a new favorite of the genre...then the second half came and I found myself a little disappointed. I can't go into much detail as to why since I'm doing my best to avoid spoilers - but I was definitely underwhelmed by the book once it moved back to London. Not to say I don't still really love the book - I do! The latter section is just keeping it from making my all time favorites shelf.The characters are no strangers to tragedy and pain (or death and violence, for that matter), and the journey you take with them will definitely be one you won't forget for a long time. Even though I definitely think the first half of the book stands out a lot more - I still think the entire story stands out in the vastness that is the historical romance genre thanks to the characters and the writing. It has definitely had me a fan of Meredith Duran - I can't wait to get my hands on everything else she has written!A couple of my favorite quotes:"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.*****"Words are not the only way we communicate, you and I. They never were.
Jaitai16 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I loved this booked. It was Meredith Duran's first and I thought it was excellent. The characters were so well written that the reader goes through the emtions with them. Emma and Julian were both traumatized by the mutiny you felt their pain and rooted for thier happiness. I found her descriptions beautful in some parts. It was clear that she did her research on the British in India, and I found the different setting intriguing. I am a new fan of this author and I will read her again.
Kim4 More than 1 year ago
Meredith Duran has written some wonderful romance novels in the course of her career. Her books combine evocative descriptions and emotional intensity with unique characters and plots. The Duke of Shadows was Ms. Duran's debut novel and her talent was already evident. Emmaline Martin and her parents are traveling from England to India for Emma's wedding to Marcus Lindley. She has been betrothed to Marcus since childhood, but her parents insist that it's now time for her to marry him. On the voyage over, the ship capsizes and Emma is the lone survivor. She is rescued at sea by a group of sailors and given safe passage to Delhi. Once reunited with her fiancé, an army officer in the British East India Company, Emma is quickly disabused of any romantic notions that she had for Marcus. Emma has always found him handsome and charming, but the man she sees again in Delhi is arrogant, unfaithful and more interested in her dowry then her. She's still dealing with the trauma of the shipwreck and losing her parents, so she doesn't immediately send Marcus packing. While attending a party of British expatriates, Emma spots a man of mixed Anglo-Indian heritage and they have a brief conversation. She initially mistakes the man for a soldier, but he's actually at the party to speak with the Commissioner about the increasing resentment of the natives against British rule. When Emma's fiancé pulls her away from the conversation, she learns that Julian Sinclair, Marquess of Holdensmoor, is actually Marcus's cousin. Marcus considers Julian inferior because of his mixed heritage and resents that Julian is heir to the Duke of Auburn, instead of himself. Julian was born in India, but after the age of 5, he was raised and educated in England. Years of antagonism have resulted in both men despising and distrusting one another. It becomes evident at the party that with the possibility of an Indian uprising on the horizon, Julian is not entirely trusted by either side on the issue. He's looked at as a man with divided loyalties. In subsequent encounters, Emma and Julian form a quiet friendship mainly based on their feelings of being outsiders in the current environment. Julian warns Emma that the boiling tensions between the British colonials and native Indians are about to erupt. Marcus dismisses the likelihood of rebellion and after one rather ugly exchange, Emma finally breaks off their engagement. When the rebellion does materialize, it's Julian, and not Marcus, that rescues Emma and tries to find her a safe haven. Ms. Duran doesn't shy away from describing the violence of the uprising. While extremely graphic, the descriptions are never gratuitous. Julian leaves Emma in what he believes is safe-keeping, while he goes back to Delhi to make sure his Indian grandmother and other family members are safe. Emma comes to believe she's been abandoned, while Julian believes Emma's been killed during the uprising. While some readers may dislike the big misunderstanding trope, I find that it was believable in this instance and not merely a convenient plot device. The next part of the novel is set in London. The violence that Emma witnessed during the rebellion and the loss of her parents has caused Emma to experience what we would now term PTSD. The only thing that's saved her sanity is her artwork. Emma has painted vivid and disturbing scenes of the violence she witnessed, but she's done nothing with the paintings. Her cousin shows them to Lord Lockwood* and he
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just didn't enjoy this book at all. The first half of the book read like a Indian language teaching volume. And as for the heroine and the hero neither one inspired me. I didn't care for this authors writing style either. I'm confused about all the good reviews because I've read over 800 romance novels. This book was aweful. I only finished it because I bought it in my nook. I couldn't care less about the couple in this book and frankly didn't like anyone in the intire story. I won't read anymore of this authors book total waste of my money
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