Monday, June 29, 2009

Romance Reviews: The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

Emmaline Martin didn't know what to expect when she entered Anglo-Indian Society to marry her betrothed. It certainly wasn't to find her reputation already in tatters because she'd had the nerve to survive a terrible incident that drowned her mother and father, and everyone else on board ship. For a day she clung to debris, and was rescued by a freighter filled with Irish sailors kind enough to deliver her to Bombay. And she certainly didn't expect to find her once kind and honorable betrothed, Colonel Lindley, disgusted with not only the fact she survived in such a scandalous manner, but everything about her: from her forthright speaking to her vibrant and bold art and sketches of unladylike subjects. It seems the Colonel also has a penchant for the ladies and carries on his affairs right beneath her nose. But she most certainly did not expect anything from him...Julian Sinclair, Lord Holdensmoor and the future Duke of Auburn—not kindness, not kisses, and certainly not saving her life.

Julian Sinclair doesn't know what he's doing at the party. Because of his mixed heritage, one quarter Indian and three quarters English, he's not wanted on either side. The British consider him a traitor, and the Indians a shame, and neither one are willing listen. Something is very wrong in the humid Delhi air. Rumors are circulating amongst the Indian peoples—in a nearby city, handful of the Indo-solders rebelled against their English commanders. The very streets of Delhi rumble with unease, and yet the stubborn English refuse to listen to reason. He might as well leave...until he spots her. Miss Emmaline Martin who has the misfortune of being betrothed Julian's boorish cousin, Colonel Lindley. An odd sort of beauty, she's nothing like any lady he's met. She's spirited and speaks her mind, and there is something dark and sweet in her that tugs at something deep inside himself. He shouldn't want her, but he does.

The day Emma intends on leaving the brutish Lindley with the help of Julian, is the day all hell breaks loose in Delhi. The dire warnings Julian spouted have come true, the Indian troops are rebelling and their killing the English—men, women, and children. It is only by chance that Emma is rescued by Julian, and as they try to escape the bloodshed, they save each other from certain death. Escaping into the desert, they make their way to safety, avoiding the Indians soldiers at all costs. But somewhere along the way, Emma falls in love with Julian—with his quiet strength, his gentle touch, and his fierce gaze. Then Julian leaves her with friends—he must return to Delhi to see to his mother's family, and promises he will return to her, and together they will leave for England. Emma wants to beg him not to go, for deep in her heart, she fears she will never see him again...Julian never returns.

Four years have passed since the fateful day Julian learned of Emma's death. Four long and dreadful years spent in England's autocratic Society as the Duke of Auburn. And still he cannot forget, cannot stop the guilt from overwhelming him. He should have never left her, should have stayed with her and taken to England himself. When his fiance takes him to art showing, Julian is shocked when he is faced with paintings depicting the mutiny in India. So terrible in their reality, the paintings speak to him deeply. But no less shocking when he turns to find his beloved Emmaline is alive. Alive! He cannot believe it. Yet by the pain in her eyes, she knew all along where he was, knew he was in England but never came to him. She thought he had abandoned her when it is the farthest from the truth. But when Emma's life his threatened, Julian swears to protect her at all cost...not only protect her, but prove to her that he never forgot her, and never stopped loving her.

The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran is a richly woven tapestry of love, passion, and tragedy. Beautifully written, Ms. Duran's eloquent prose pulls you into the story until you find yourself standing along side Julian and Emma in the humid heat of India. It is a wonder to watch as Emma blossoms from a awkward flower to a beautiful woman under Julian's care. And Julian, freed to be the man he truly is deep inside in Emma's arms. Even the sadness which follows their tragic departure and return four years later is a wonder to behold. Emma, now scarred by the horrors of the mutiny, and Julian rendered an empty shell of a man, tugs at the heart. Colourful and darkly gritty, The Duke of Shadows is one of the best debut novels I have read in a long time, and I look forward to devouring more romances by Meredith Duran. Highly Recommended.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home