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review 2018-01-27 00:00
The Duke of Shadows
The Duke of Shadows - Meredith Duran There are a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head. First, I caught this book as a BR - I was having trouble bringing myself to read it otherwise for some reason so it was just the push I needed.

I'll probably recycle some thoughts from that forum as well as borrow upon others as a result. Also, spoilering for sake of that...

So, when I went to bed after reading this late into the night last night, shadows and depth were two things that stuck with me from this book. Obviously that one is right there in the title, but as motifs, I thought they were masterful. Both characters are dealing with these 'shadows' and being so different and set apart. And both characters have unseen depths by others-and likely each other...and really the two go together so brilliantly and heartbreakingly in this book. Because this book did break my heart.

Julian noticed Emma in a garden and she looks bored, unwell, and miserable. Neither of the characters seems to fit in their relative place, and Duran shows how the lack of fit when all appearances indicate you should fit can be a bit awkwardly painful and make one feel more alone. Julian is between world in a heartbreaking situation. And in each other, they find a match. Emma is, by her own declaration, fierce. Julian is sensitive and empathetic and sweet. The book is filled with lovely dialogue that would feel out of place in other books, but fits so well here. Duran delicately demonstrates the heartbreak each character has had to endure that led them to this place, to their vulnerabilities and ultimately connection with one another.

I'm at risk of rambling on, and I just might eventually. I still have a lot of processing to do. Because if the first half of the book was in tone delicate and brutal, yet hopeful somehow, the second half was gut-wrenching.

Normally if a character felt or did what Emma did in the second half of this book, I'd be so annoyed. In this case, you understand. You understand her brutal loneliness, her heartbreak, and the ultimate conclusion that she'll never be over it. Meanwhile, Julian thinks her dead with good reason and I really was cringing before their first reunion. As I was reading it, I was thinking "there are so many ways this could go that I won't like. I will be angry at one or the other of them" and guess what? I wasn't. His approach to her was flawless. His utter disregard for others; her reaction was equally realistic. After all, by their own admission, (don't get me started on the globe: ("You want my whole itinerary? I won't give it! I have given you enough!") he looked for her everywhere but in London. And that doesn't make things easier. At this point, of course Julian is completely devoted even if 'she won't have him.' He tries different tactics, confuses her, we get some great insight into Lockwood. In the process, we can feel his pain too. She seems cold, resigned to her loneliness.

Emma struggles to both deny and accept him. She's still so heartbroken and afraid since she's faced so many terrors, and was so incredibly let down by him. And her fear is completely understandable. So here, instead of veering into "God, get over it already" it stayed very much in the "Yep, I get it" territory.

Anyway, as I still process, I feel I'm only doing a plot recap & reaction of what I felt was an incredibly effective, heartbreaking, beautiful romance. It felt so very unlikely yet so very real. I haven't mentioned how masterfully Meredith Duran says things like
"I am not blind. Words are not the only way we communicate. They never were."
And things like "You are not the only one who took that journey."

Or "Water under the bridge" "Then a very stagnant river"

I am just so impressed at how I could feel their heartbreak and their tenderness. Simply beautiful, elegant, and brutal.
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text 2015-11-24 16:28
Swordplay in Historical Romance
The Prize - Julie Garwood
Once a Knight - Christina Dodd
Desire - Amanda Quick
Destiny's Captive - Beverly Jenkins
The Last Warrior: A Loveswept Historical Romance - Kristen Kyle
Butterfly Swords (Harlequin Historical) - Jeannie Lin
The Duke of Shadows - Meredith Duran
The Serpent Prince - Elizabeth Hoyt
To Catch a Bride - Anne Gracie
By Gaelen Foley Lord of Fire [Mass Market Paperback] - Gaelen Foley

How about a little swordplay? No not that kind! 


Here are some wonderful Historical Romance where the heroes and heroines really know how to handle a blade. 


My lists are neven in any particular order. Enjoy! 


1. The Prize by Julie Garwood


In the resplendence of William the Conqueror's London court, the lovely Saxon captive, Nicholaa was forced to choose a husband from the assembled Norman nobles. She chose Royce, a baron warrior whose fierce demeanor could not conceal his chivalrous and tender heart. Resourceful, rebellious and utterly naive, Nicholaa vowed to bend Royce to her will, despite the whirlwind of feelings he aroused in her. Ferocious in battle, seasoned in passion, Royce was surprised by the depth of his emotion whenever he caressed his charming bride.

In a climate of utmost treachery, where Saxons still intrigued against their Norman invaders, Royce and Nicholaa revelled in their precious new love...a fervent bond soon to be disrupted by the call of blood, kin and country!


2. Once a Knight by Christina Dodd


A Lady's Choice

Only desperation can make strong-willed Lady Alisoun hire Sir David of Radcliffe to protect her castle. He had once been a hero renowned for his brave daring and knightly skills. But few know what he has been doing these past years.

A Hero Again

At George's Cross estate, Sir David does indeed discover danger afoot. But the danger that surprises him most is how quickly his own well-protected heart is falling to a fiery damsel who brings him to his knees. When put to the test, he must make a sacrifice. But will he lose his heart...or his life?


3. Desire by Amanda Quick


Upon her father's death, beautiful, headstrong Lady Clarre knew that she must wed, for the protection of the Isle of Desire new fell to her. Yet when her guardian's choice of prospective husband rode through her castle gates, she felt utterly betrayed. All sinewy muscle and savage steel, Sir Gareth of Wyckmere was not the poet she'd requested but a fearsome knight whose only interest was in war.

Legions of robbers had fallen beneath the Hellhound of Wyckmere's sword, and now this bold warrior was certain that he could tame one willful wife. Yet even Gareth could not deter Lady Clare from trying to mold him into her ideal... until their clash of wills ignited a passion that set them both aflame... and a treacherous plot put their lives in deadly peril.


4. Destiny's Captive by Beverly Jenkins


Noah Yates fully believes in the joys of a happy family and a good wife. But that's not the life for him. No, he would much rather sail the wild seas in search of adventure, not tied down. But then the unthinkable happens . . . he finds himself literally tied down. To a bed. By a woman.


And Pilar isn't just an ordinary woman. She's descended from pirates. And after giving him one of the worst nights of his life, she steals his ship! Now Noah is on the hunt, and he'll stop at nothing to find this extraordinary woman . . . and make her his.


5. The Last Warrior by Kristen Kyle


aptain Jake Talbert has come to San Francisco on an all-consuming quest for the precious samurai swords he once wore as a warrior in his adopted homeland of Japan. Jake will go to any lengths to retrieve the heirlooms—and the honor he lost along with them. He is prepared to fight if he must, but he does not foresee the battle he is about to face—or the spirited opponent determined to get in his way.
Meghan McLowry has come to the waterfront in search of the notorious Captain Talbert after hearing of his fondness for sword collecting and his ability to fight as no westerner can. She makes him a deal: If he can protect her father from the deadly vengeance of the Tong, she will gladly hand over the five exquisite swords she received as a birthday present from her father. Little does she know that Talbert is no crude sailor to be bent to her will, but a dangerously seductive warrior who will stop at nothing to get what he wants—whether it’s justice, respect, or a woman’s heart.


6. Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin


During China's infamous Tang Dynasty, a time awash with luxury yet littered with deadly intrigues and fallen royalty, betrayed Princess Ai Li flees before her wedding.Miles from home, with only her delicate butterfly swords for defense, she enlists the reluctant protection of a blue-eyed warrior….

Battle-scarred, embittered Ryam has always held his own life at cheap value. Ai Li's innocent trust in him and honorable, stubborn nature make him desperate to protect her—which means not seducing the first woman he has ever truly wanted…


7. The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran


Sick of tragedy, done with rebellion, Emmaline Martin vows to settle quietly into British Indian society. But when the pillars of privilege topple, her fiancé's betrayal leaves Emma no choice. She must turn for help to the one man whom she should not trust, but cannot resist: Julian Sinclair, the dangerous and dazzling heir to the Duke of Auburn. 

To the marble halls of London... 

In London, they toast Sinclair with champagne. In India, they call him a traitor. Cynical and impatient with both worlds, Julian has never imagined that the place he might belong is in the embrace of a woman with a reluctant laugh and haunted eyes. But in a time of terrible darkness, he and Emma will discover that love itself can be perilous -- and that a single decision can alter one's life forever. 

Destiny follows wherever you run. 

A lifetime of grief later, in a cold London spring, Emma and Julian must finally confront the truth: no matter how hard one tries to deny it, some pasts cannot be disowned...and some passions never die.


8. The Serpent Prince by  Elizabeth Hoyt


Country bred Lucy Craddock-Hayes is content with her quiet life. Until the day she trips over an unconscious man - a naked unconscious man - and loses her innocence forever.

Viscount Simon Iddesleigh was nearly beaten to death by his enemies. Now he's hell-bent on vengeance. But as Lucy nurses him back to health, her honesty startles his jaded sensibilities - even as it ignites a desire that threatens to consume them both.

Charmed by Simon's sly wit, urbane manners, and even his red-heeled shoes, Lucy falls hard and fast for him. Yet as his honor keeps him from ravishing her, his revenge sends his attackers to her door. As Simon wages war on his foes, Lucy wages her own war for his soul using the only weapon she has - her love.


9.  To Catch a Bride  by Anne Gracie


It was the perfect excuse to delay a dreaded marriage of convenience  and head off on an exotic journey to track down a young lady missing in Egypt for six years. Rafe Ramsey, son of the Earl of Axebridge, is utterly besotted when he finally locates the beautiful and spirited Ayisha, who has taken a new name. But a mysterious past has made it impossible for her to return to England, and she is on the run from something far more serious than an unwanted betrothal.


10. Lord Of Fire by Gaelen Foley


After years of preparation, he has baited his trap well, luring the depraved members of Society into his devil's playground so he can earn their trust and uncover their secrets. Yet no one in London suspects that Lord Lucien Knight is England's most cunning spy, an officer who has sacrificed his soul for his country. Now an unexpected intruder has invaded his fortress of sin, jeopardizing his carefully laid plans - and igniting his deepest desires. Beautiful, innocent Alice Montague finds herself at the mercy of scandalous Lord Lucien. But as he begins his slow seduction to corrupt her virtue, Alice glimpses a man tormented by his own choices, a man who promises her nothing but his undeniable passion. . .



Di I miss your favorite? Let me know!


Vote for the best of the best on my Goodread list!Swordplay in Historical Romance

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review 2015-08-18 00:00
The Duke of Shadows
The Duke of Shadows - Meredith Duran This is my first book by Meredith Duran and I am very glad to have found her. Ms. Duran writing is little different then a lot of the Historical Romance books I read. They are focused more on the drama around them instead of just focus on the Heroine and Hero. Also there was a break in the story where they were away from each other for a while. There was a lot of emotional feelings in this book by way of how the heroine and seem to have loss so much and by how the hero acted with being a rake with another women. Our heroine is Emmaline Martin , who was traveling to British Indian to marry a man that her parents wanted her to marry. Sadly on the way there the ship they were on wrecked and Emmaline lost her parents. This with finding that her intended is not all way she thought and with the fighting/drama going on in the area...she turns to our hero, Julian Sinclair. Julian is to be a Duke in British society but he is half Indian too. Julian finds that he likes Emmaline and how she is so different from most of the women he meets. They both find themselves on the run from the war torn area. I was really glad to have read this book, even though it was different from what books I am used too. Its nice to break from the mold. I hope that you will like it too.
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review 2015-02-14 14:06
Abandoned at 25% for lack of interest
The Duke of Shadows - Meredith Duran

It started out okay but it quickly turned strange and the narrative lacked direction. It was a good concept with terrible writing.

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text 2015-02-03 15:44
Easel: Painters in Historical Romance
The Duke of Shadows - Meredith Duran
Beyond Seduction - Emma Holly
The Truth About Love - Stephanie Laurens
Portrait of a Lover - Julianne MacLean
A Most Unconventional Match - Julia Justiss
Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage - Jennifer Ashley
The Portrait - Megan Chance
An Invitation to Sin - Suzanne Enoch
About Adam - Stella Cameron
Prelude to Heaven - Laura Lee Guhrke

Artistic personalities make grand heroes and heroines. 


Here are some wonderful Painters from Historical Romance for you to enjoy. 


1. The Duke Of Shadows by Meredith Duran


Sick of tragedy, done with rebellion, Emmaline Martin vows to settle quietly into British Indian society. But when the pillars of privilege topple, her fiance's betrayal leaves Emma no choice. She must turn for help to the one man whom she should not trust, but cannot resist: Julian Sinclair, the dangerous and dazzling heir to the Duke of Auburn.


To the marble halls of London...

In London, they toast Sinclair with champagne. In India, they call him a traitor. Cynical and impatient with both worlds, Julian has never imagined that the place he might belong is in the embrace of a woman with a reluctant laugh and haunted eyes. But in a time of terrible darkness, he and Emma will discover that love itself can be perilous - and that a single decision can alter one's life forever.


Destiny follows wherever you run.

A lifetime of grief later, in a cold London spring, Emma and Julian must finally confront the truth: no matter how hard one tries to deny it, some pasts cannot be disowned...and some passions never die.



2. Beyond Seduction by Emma Holly


To avoid marriage, Merry Vance has concocted a sinfully scandalous scheme: to pose for Nicolas Craven, London's most sought-after artist. No man in his right mind would marry a woman who posed nude for this notorious rogue.

But Nicolas has his own plans for the fiesty young woman. And Merry has no idea how hot it can get in an artist's studio.


3. The Truth About Love by Stephanie Laurens


Gerrard Debbington, Vane Cynster's brother-in-law, is one of London's most eligible gentlemen. Uninterested in marriage, his driving passion is to paint the fabled gardens of Lord Tregonning's Hellebore Hall -- an opportunity that is now at hand...if Gerrard agrees to create an honest portrait of Tregonning's daughter as well.


Gerrard chafes at wasting his talents on some simpering miss, only to discover that Jacqueline Tregonning stirs him as no other. Certainly, she is beautiful, but it is her passionate nature that strikes sparks with Gerrard's own, igniting desire and sweeping them into each other's arms, convincing Gerrard that he has found his ideal soul mate -- the lady he must have as his wife.


But something is horribly wrong at Hellebore Hall. Evil and lies are reaching out to ensnare Jacqueline -- and Gerrard will have to move Heaven and Earth to protect the remarkable woman who, for him, personifies the truth about love...


4. Portrait of a Lover by Julianne MacLean


A picture of deception . . .

Annabelle Lawson knew nothing about the breathtaking stranger she met on the train—only that he'd make an ideal model for the budding young artist . . . and that she desired him more than she believed possible. But after she'd been seduced, she learned that she'd also been betrayed.


The man she thought she loved was really Magnus Wallis—a scoundrel like his father before him, the loathed cousin of Annabelle's benefactor, the honorable Earl of Whitby.

A landscape of love . . .


No longer the naively romantic girl who would tumble for a rogue, Annabelle cannot avoid a reunion with the despicable Magnus, who wants to include her portraits in his new London gallery. She means to show him her coldest face—but upon seeing him again, her every intention melts from the heat of his touch. It is clear that Magnus still burns with love for her. But is he still the villain he once was, or can he be reformed into a man Annabelle can dare to love


5. A Most Unconventional Match by Julia Justiss


Hal Waterman's calling on the newly widowed Elizabeth Lowery is the caring act of a gentleman. And with her household in turmoil and a young son to support, she is certainly grateful for his help. Hal finds Elizabeth even more lovely than when they first met, but knows that she will only ever see him as a kind and often taciturn friend.

Elizabeth finds comfort and companionship in Hal's caring of her. But then a tantalizing desire starts to simmer. His reassuring strength and presence have become so very attractive…so alluring….


6. Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley


Lady Isabella Scranton scandalized London by leaving her husband, notorious artist Lord Mac Mackenzie, after only three turbulent years of marriage. But Mac has a few tricks to get the Lady back in his life, and more importantly, back into his bed.


7. The Portrait by Megan Chance


The reigning master of the New York art world, Jonas Whitaker was brilliant and compelling, a man of dark passions and uncontrollable emotions. Terrified of his own dangerous nature, and scarred by the horror of his past, he hid behind his talent in a world of glittering emptiness--until Imogene Carter pushed her way into his life.

He discounted her on sight, seeing her as a colorless, fragile woman with no spirit and less talent. He could send her running with a word--and he intended to do just that.

But Imogene was not so easily frightened. She came to Jonas to learn from a master, and learn she would-everything he could teach her. She wanted his artist's secrets and his brilliant passion. She wanted to be swept up in his seductive, forbidden world.

Until she saw the terrible price he paid for his talent.

And realized it was impossible to catch a shooting star without being burned....


8. An Invitation to Sin by Suzanne Enoch


Seven marriageable daughters . . . And Lord Zachary Griffin is just the man to help them.

After all, what could be more tantalizing than teaching the beautiful Witfeld sisters all the special ways of driving a man into submission—and marriage? And leading exquisite Caroline Witfeld, the most spirited and least frivolous sister, to temptation would be wildly delicious.


Zachary doesn't realize that Caroline's longing gazes have less to do with attraction and more to do with admission—to a prestigious arts conservatory. If only she could set those high cheekbones, that aristocratic brow, and those powerful shoulders to canvas, her dreams would all come true. But Caroline is soon having dreams of a very different sort—ones that involve the charming rogue and some improper behavior hardly befitting a lady dedicated to her art . . .unless she becomes dedicated to the art of love.


9. About Adam by Stella Cameron


Adam Chillworth is a hard man. The mysterious and talented portrait artist of 7C Mayfair Square is passionately in love with Princess Desiree, though he has consistently refused her ardent adoration, convinced that he's too old and too worldly for her. And he is, after all, only a commoner.


But Desiree—returning after months away nursing a broken heart—has a plan. She'll show him that she has matured, that she's no longer given to childish infatuations. She'll treat him as an old friend. How unfortunate that each time she's with him she imagines passionate encounters.


But while audacious Desiree is pursuing the Plan, ruthless enemies from Adam's secret past are closing in on him, placing them both in desperate peril. As he fights with cool and deadly skill, Desiree discovers that Adam Chillworth is a dangerous man. Dangerous to hate—and to love.


10. Prelude to Heaven by Laura Lee Guhrke


Many in London society envy Tess Ridgeway, Countess of Aubry, for having snared the handsomest, most charming man in England, but after two years of marriage to the volatile earl, Tess knows there’s nothing charming about her husband and nothing to envy about her hellish marriage. Desperate, afraid for her own life and that of her unborn child, Tess manages to escape, fleeing to the southern coast of France, where she collapses, ill and exhausted, in the garden of the reclusive artist, Alexandre Dumond.
Alexandre, who savagely guards his privacy, resents this fire-haired beauty that Fate has brought to his doorstep. But he can’t turn his back on her, and when she proposes that he hire her as his housekeeper, Alexandre reluctantly lets her into his solitary world. There, they find an unexpected haven in each other’s arms, but will it last forever? Or will the dark secrets harbored by both of them tear their love apart?


Do you have a favorite painter from Historical Romance? Let me know!


Be sure to vote on the Goodreads list: Easel: Painters in Historical Romance

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