Friday, August 15, 2008

Review - The Duke of Shadows

Title: The Duke of Shadows
Author: Meredith Duran
Publishing Date: April 2008
Genre: Historical
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Warm

Emma Martin has been engaged to Colonel Marcus Lindley since she was a child. She sets sail with her parents on a ship to India, where Marcus is currently stationed. A terrible tragedy occurs when the ship goes down in a storm and she is the only survivor. Not only does Emma have to deal with the loss of her parents, but she realizes that Marcus is a terrible person and is only marrying her for her inheritance. Add that to a revolt between the British and Indian armies and Emma will have the fight of her life. Along the way she meets Julian Sinclair, the Duke of Auburn. He helps her to run away from Marcus.

The Duke of Shadows is Meredith Duran’s first novel. My overall impression of this book is that it is a great story, with a few imperfections. I thought the pacing and writing style could be a little inconsistent at times. For the most part it flowed nicely, but occasionally the writing stumbled a bit. The plot and story itself I really enjoyed. The setting is unusual, taking place in British Colonial India. Another thing I really enjoyed was the open honesty between Julian and Emma in the first half of the book. It is a nice change of pace to see the protagonists’ honesty with one another instead of lies and deception or even denial of feelings that is so often the case in the romance novels I read.

What I struggled over while reading The Duke of Shadows, was my dislike of Emma. I had a hard time relating to her. I think she bordered too closely to the line of selfishness and self-pity for me to truly like her. But Julian was a much more likeable hero and I thought he was a great character. I found him much easier to relate to than Emma. It was refreshing to have a hero who was honest about his feelings and never in denial about them. He was so patient with Emma, when another person would probably be pulling their hair out. Ms. Duran cleverly introduces the Earl of Lockwood as a very intriguing secondary character. She reveals a few brief hints about the Earl of Lockwood including the mysterious estrangement of his wife, who he supposedly was madly in love with. It seems the perfect set up for her next novel. Okay, I’ll bite. I will be curious to read Ms. Duran’s next effort.

Here is what others had to say:

Thoughts of an Aspiring Writer
Dear Author
The Book Smugglers
The good, The Bad, The Unread


Christine said...

Great review, Jill. I think I enjoyed this novel a bit better than you did, but I can see where it went wrong for you-especially with relating to Emma. I didn't think she was so self-pitying. I guess I felt that she was more a product of British society and her social class. And having survived some rather traumatic experiences, she kind of got stuck alone in her own head, you know? I could understand that happening.

I, too, am definitely picking up Meredith Duran's next published work. :)

Kate said...

Good review! I also think I liked this one a little more than you did, though I absolutely understand what you mean about the pacing: the entire second half was sort of jolting to me, and after the complete magic of the first it took a bit to get used to. But I loved the characters, particularly how completely flawed they were. War? Violence? Drinks too much? Opium? Hello, warts-and-all historical romance. I'll definitely run out to find Duran's next one when it comes out.

Jill D. said...

Christine, Do you know when her next book will be released? I checked out her website and nothing was posted about any up coming books.

Kate, I like a lot of drama in my stories and flawed characters are much more interesting to read about than perfect ones. The part about the opium was a surprise. I wasn't expecting that. I am glad that Emma took his advice. All I kept thinking about was Wyatt Earp's wife in Tombstone.

Christine said...

No, I don't know when her next book is coming out, but I'm pretty sure she is writing. Katiebabs met and chatted with Meredith at RWA and I'm *pretty* sure she said Meredith was releasing another book in 2009? Mmm. I'll email Meredith and ask! =)

Jessica said...

Great review. I just read this one and keep picking it up and rereading parts. I want to do a review, but I am not settled yet in my mind about this book.

I did think Emma was way too hard on him for not finding her.

I do plan to read her next one for sure.

Brie said...

I still haven't read this whole book. I've only made it halfway through and I pick it up occasionally to read a chapter or two. For some reason I'm experiencing a disconnect with the story. I don't know what it is causing it, but now that I've read your review, I think that disconnect might be Emma.

Jill D. said...

Christine, Great! Keep me posted if you find anything out.

Hi Jessica and welcome to my blog! I checked out your blog and it's very nice! I sometimes have to ruminate on a book before I write my review. I like to ponder my feelings. I agree with you that Emma was very hard on him for not finding her sooner. Why didn't she try to contact him? I didn't like that she placed all the blame on him.

Brie, If you are struggling, I say don't sweat it. You will be really annoyed with the last half. Call it quits and move on. The second half of the book is where Emma really got on my nerves. Julian is a peach though. I like how he turns the tables on Emma.