April Hot Read – The Duke of Shadows

If you read this book and want to talk about it, go here. I’m dying to discuss it without worrying about spoilers.

The Contest

Enter the Duke of Shadows Sweepstakes

Because I love this book so much, I want to tell the world about it. The best way I have to do that is a contest. Thus commences

The Duke of Shadows Sweepstakes.

Prize packages

  • Grand Prize: $25 gift card from Barnes and Noble
  • First prize: $15 gift certificate from Amazon (or online bookstore of your choice)
  • Runners up: Five more winners will receive a copy of The Duke of Shadows

Seven winners. Cool prizes. What do you have to do to get in on this?

Rules for entry for people with a blog:

  • Step 1: Make a new post on your blog, entitled “Enter The Duke of Shadows Sweepstakes”
  • Step 2: Post the graphic shown here, along with a link back to to this contest. If you aren’t sure how to add a picture to your blog, use TDoS Sweepstakes Code.
  • Step 3: Add something like “I entered, you should too!” Publish blog post.
  • Step 4: Leave your link in comments, letting me know you’re done.

For those who don’t have blogs, here’s what you do to enter:

  • Step 1: Promise in comments to put a review on some online review site, if you win.
  • Step 2: Tell at least one other person about the contest.

I hope everyone who enters will check out this book. It would be great if you told people about it, if you love it as much as I do. Winners also agree they’ll review the book somewhere as a condition of accepting their prize. This contest will run until midnight on April 13th. On the morning of April 14, I’ll announce the winners.

The Squee

After I finished this book, I immediately got on IM and sent messages to my friends, telling them I’d just glommed The Duke of Shadows. I begged them to get it at once, toss out their TBR list, and devour it immediately, and then said I would be greeting them for the next two weeks with “Did you read it yet?”

I don’t do story summaries. I don’t really do reviews, either. If you want the blurb, it’s on Powells. This is homage. This is me, struggling to express all the ways the book succeeds, no, soars. Take a woman, saturated with loss. Cast her to a man who has worn so many faces, he is no longer sure which is his true self. In many ways, Julian is a soul divided, and Ms. Duran portrays it with such grace and valor that I will always, always remember this hero, and his love for the complex, passionate Emmaline.

The Duke of Shadows was pitch-perfect, not a single wrong note. This book ravished me. The writing is lovely and luminous, bedizened with subtle poetry. It hit me like a fist in the chest, rousing a sudden, shocking ache. In reading this, you will be permeated with yearning. Some sentences are so lovely, they make you say, “Oh,” in quiet, helpless admiration. This book is pure beauty married to elegance and simplicity.

Let me show you. Even without context, these small excerpts will steal your breath.

She lay there, staring upward. Long crimson clouds stretched across the lavender sky, as though giant claws had laid open the innards of heaven.

Such imagery. Can you not imagine such a sky? This is India at twilight. Yes, this is a romance novel, but it is art, too, and one of the finest books I have ever read in my life.

His face lowered to hers, so close she felt his ragged exhalation against her lips. “Emma, you can trust me with your life. But I am not your brother. You cannot trust me in this.”

“I have no brother,” she said softly. “Nor mother, nor father, now. If I trust you with my life, I trust you with everything I have.”

My heart clenches. I say, “Oh.” Gone totally breathless. In one sentence, one achingly lovely sentence, she has given him permission to touch and revealed such heartbreaking vulnerability, I could weep.

He glanced back up to her face. “God, you are beautiful.”

She did not feel anything so boring as beautiful. She felt fierce.

This is masterful. The heroine is imbued with power during an intimate moment. She is strong; she is not a passive vessel.

She would say no prayer for him. She had tried them before. They did not work.

These short, stark sentences distill the essence of her despair. Here, Emma cannot muster the energy to embellish her thoughts. Julian has become her world, and he is leaving.

I could go on, but I think I will let you discover the rest yourself. I want to read The Duke of Shadows again, again, again. The characters were so well-drawn and compelling, and the plot smart and well-researched. And the emotional intensity…good God, it was gut-wrenching. I found myself in tears more than once, and that doesn’t happen often. This book is perfection, better, in fact, than any historical romance I’ve ever read. I am astonished to find a work of such proficiency and power in a debut author.

If Meredith Duran is not a superstar in ten years, taking her place amid such luminaries as Laura Kinsale and Loretta Chase, then the world is mad. Read this book.

The Interview

The author was kind enough to consent to answer a few questions for the edification of readers, as part of my celebration of all things Meredith Duran. Enjoy!

Meredith Speaks
What’s your favorite scene in The Duke of Shadows?

As a reader, I think I’d pick the scene that transpires in the garden in London, shortly after Julian and Emma encounter one another again. But in terms of the actual writing of it, I’ll choose the scene at the Ardsmores’, which ends with Julian smashing the globe. I’d been struggling with what was going to happen there — I knew that they needed to confront the history they shared, and the mystery of what had happened to Emma, but my inspiration had evaporated. I sat in front of the screen for *several* hours, until I was ready to tear my hair out. Finally I gave up and got ready for bed. As I went to shut down the computer, I paused to type two lines that randomly came to me: “There was a giant globe, as big as a carriage wheel, standing near the desk. It was startling and unusual, and she recalled suddenly having heard of it: the Ardsmores’ famous globe.”

Stupid, I thought. A globe? Great. That did not help me move the scene forward AT ALL.

I lay down, closed my eyes, and suddenly — BOOM. Of COURSE there was a globe. The globe was CRUCIAL!! I jumped out of bed, turned the computer back on, and wrote the rest of the scene without pause.

In other words, I love that scene because it’s the product of one of those fantastical and exhilarating and ALL too rare moments when intuition takes over and a scene simply materializes. What a rush that is! I wish it happened every time I opened Word. :)

What was your inspiration for this fabulous book?

I think the first seed was probably planted a very long time ago — when I was in India in 1998. I was on a study abroad program, and we were living in a medieval fortress that towered over the city below. When the typical teenage melancholy struck, I would climb up onto the ramparts and sit between the cannons and watch the sun set. Much, much later, when I first visualized Emma, it was like this — on the edge of a rampart, looking out over an Indian city. Only… the city was on fire, and she had a knife in her hand. Since I’ve always been fascinated by the events of 1857, I knew instantly why the city was burning.

Ultimately I denied Emma the chance to stand on the ramparts, but I let her keep the knife. :)

You’ve worked in India. How did that enrich your ability to depict the setting in part one?

It definitely helped with “setting the scene.” For instance, the description of the fortress at Sapnagar is a composite of Mehrangarh Fort, Amber Fort, and the City Palace in Udaipur, all of which I’ve visited several times. But — and there’s always a but! — sometimes I did find myself troubled over some of the assumptions I was making. Deven’s a great name, but was it common in 1857? For that matter, did bazaars back then really smell like bazaars do now? I was very glad of my university library, which has a massive collection of books on (and memoirs about!) colonial India.

If you could write a book set in any historical time period / location, when and where would it be?

Well, I absolutely indulged myself with The Duke of Shadows — I think 1857 is one of the most interesting moments in history. But I’m also fascinated by Roman Britain, Tudor England, and World War II Europe. And, lest I forget, the 1880s and 1890s in Britain, where my next books are set. I chose the 1880s specifically because it was a period of such swift and dramatic change: the decline of landed wealth, the height of imperialism, the rise of the “new woman,” etc. It’s a great time period to be writing about. So many possible stories!

You’re shipwrecked on a desert island with another author. Who is it and why?

Laura Kinsale. I hear she has a new manuscript but no plans yet to publish it. Very well, she can read it aloud to me while I drink coconut milk!

What do you want to tell readers about you and/or your work?

Hmm. Well, 1) I’ve been reading omnivorously in the genre since I was thirteen, but my secret loves (aside from historicals, of course) are paranormal and futuristic romances. I attribute this to a childhood of Lois Duncan, Christopher Pike, and Star Trek. 2) My worst nightmare is to write a heroine who is Too Stupid to Live. 3) My heroes are Laura Kinsale, Judith Ivory, Loretta Chase, and Patricia Gaffney (“To Have and To Hold” actually launched my keeper shelf). 4) I get a little cranky when people knock the romance genre, because I think that, like any other genre, ours has produced some brilliant books along with the good reads, so-so reads, and occasional stinker. 5) I tend to make numbered lists for no reason. And finally, 6) I am thrilled to have made an appearance on Ann’s blog. Thanks so much for having me!

Posted in books, contest, interview, pimpage, swoon, writing

91 Responses to April Hot Read – The Duke of Shadows

  1. Pingback: The Duke of Shadows Sweepstakes « I Read What??

  2. CrystalGB says:

    Hi Ann. I posted this great contest on my blog. http://conversingwithcrystal.blogspot.com

  3. Ann Aguirre says:

    Awesome! Thanks, you guys. I so want to get the word out for Meredith. Her book is really special.

  4. MaryKate says:

    Sweet! I actually put it above my blog roll, does that count??


  5. Ann Aguirre says:


    That might even be better because it won’t scroll for the time the contest is running. That’s awesome, MaryKate! Thank you.

  6. Spice says:


    (don’t include me for the contest, I just wanted to cross post)

  7. Pingback: Dionne Galace » Blog Archive » Ann Aguirre Loves Meredith Duran

  8. azteclady says:

    As you know… no blog, but I guest review for Karen Scott and post reviews at other two boards.

    As an aside: I love it when you indulge in book pimpery, Ann :grin:

  9. Ann Aguirre says:

    I haven’t felt this way about a book since I read my first Kinsale. So what could I do besides pimp?

  10. kaetchen says:

    No blog, but I *promise* to review it, and I’ve already told at least two other people about it!

  11. Laura says:

    I would LOVE to review this for Two Lips Reviews (Victoria there). I’m REALLY getting into historicals lately, and this one sounds right up my alley.

    Just one question- do the first two winners also get the book? I’m thinking so…but I read only gift card/cert. Thanks!

  12. Ann Aguirre says:

    I figured they could buy it with their winnings, Laura. :grin:

    In agreeing to review the book, two big winners will need to lay hands on it somehow!

  13. Laura says:

    That sounds fair to me, Ann.

  14. Ocy says:

    Consider your contest pimped out on my blog!

    OCD, vampires, and amusing rants, oh my!

  15. Jennifer says:

    I have no blog (I’m a troglodyte in comparison to most of the other posters), but I promise to review it online.

    Plus – I’ve already told my sister!

    Pick me, pick me, please! :grin:

  16. Virginia H. says:

    No blog but I promise to reveiw it at Book Reporter news of some place like that I am already telling my friends about it.

  17. Tina C. says:

    I don’t have a blog to call my own (or, at least, I haven’t posted to either of the ones I used to have in so many years that the cobwebs obscurred the text long ago!). That said, I will find some active blog to let me guest review and/or post one to amazon. I will also tell others to read it, as well.

  18. Maya says:

    as you know from a pevious post, i may o may not be successful a posting at my bg as directed due to abysmal cyberskills – ut i can promise to review given a)such enthusiasm abd b) i ‘collect’ stories sein india. this sods like a fab addition!

  19. Maya says:

    ref #19: wow. you’d never guess i know how to spell by looking at that post. perhaps keyboarding and giving a baby a bottle are acivities that shouldn’t be combined???

  20. Jessica says:


    All posted and everything! Few of my friends read romance, so I just tried to up play the fact that this is a really good one.

  21. This feels a little like winning something on Prize Day in junior high. You know, you’re spacing out (probably staring at the back of Scott Chernoff’s neck, wondering if he even knows who you are — betting that he doesn’t, because he’s so cool, and you’re just… not) and suddenly your name is called. You’re completely startled, and your face goes beet red because everyone has turned to look at you — but at the same time you’re also totally and completely thrilled.

    Yep, it feels a lot like that. :smile:

  22. Ann Aguirre says:

    This is so cool! We have Meredith in the house, everyone. Feel free to ask her questions about her awesome book, Maybe she’ll come back and answer them.

  23. Hitomi says:

    Can I please be entered in the contest? I’ll send in my review to an online site if I win…

  24. Susan says:


    This book sounds fabulous! I posted this contest on my blog.

  25. Jennifer Crowley says:

    Wow, the cover looks quite yummy. I’m going to be checking this book out (but I’d love to win a copy!)

  26. Pingback: Enter The Duke of Shadows Sweepstakes « Ciaralira

  27. JaimeK says:

    I don’t have a blog..however, I just called the bookstore to have them set it aside for me and I will post a review/several.

    I love to find new authors and if you are this excited about a book I am definitely looking forward to reading this one.

  28. JaimeK says:

    Oops, forgot to mention..I have already told a friend!

  29. Pingback: Enter The Duke of Shadows Sweepstakes « Tales of a WriterCass

  30. Stacy ~ says:

    Thanx to MaryKate, I have added this book to my tbb list. Bu just in case I’m lucky…


  31. limecello says:

    So very exciting! Thanks for sharing, Ann! I posted this on my actual blog… http://limecello.blogspot.com/2008/04/enter-duke-of-shadows-sweepstakes.html
    and this time it worked! Woot!

  32. Caffey says:

    Hi Ann! Missed being able to chat with you here!
    Hi Meredith, its so great to meet you and get to know you from the interview. Meredith, will there be more books related to this one, like other characters in the book? Whats up next and when for you?
    I’m off to find your site. I’m excited about this book!

    Gosh, I’m always chatting about historical romances because they are just a wonderful comfort read for me, one that I so can get so involved in that I forget everything around me!

    I posted the contest at my blog and would love to be in it!. Thanks. Here’s the blog link: http://caffeys-reads.blogspot.com/

  33. Patrick says:

    No blog, just adding this to confirm that one of your commenters did, in fact, tell me about the book and the contest. Sounds like the kind of book I’d like to read.

  34. azteclady says:

    Patrick, m’dear, you are supposed to say *who* it was… *shaking head sadly*

    (Plus, you can always post the review at MyMedia, remember?)

    tsk tsk tsk

  35. D.L. says:

    Can’t wait to read this book. The cover is to die for!

  36. Jennie says:

    Thanks for the recommendation. Put it on my blog.


    I bought and read your book because of the really great reviews and must say I thought it was great. Thanks for the great read.

  37. Christine says:

    Ann, I love your zest and adoration for The Duke of Shadows. It’s quite contagious.

    My contest entry is on my blog :arrow: The happily ever after . . .

  38. Marg says:

    I’ve posted about this book pimping here

  39. Pingback: REVIEW: The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary

  40. Ann Aguirre says:

    Caffey, I do love this book.

    Hehe, AL. I knew who Patrick was. :grin:

    I totally agree, DL.

    Jennie, I hope you enjoy it, if you win!

    Thanks for jumping on board, everyone. I’m so excited at how we’ve been able to get the word out.

  41. Bunny B says:

    Blogged here!

  42. Jessica D says:


    Consider me entered, and I’m genuinely really excited to read this one.

  43. Yikes, I posted a link but the picture did not work.


    Oh yeah, I will post a review on myspace blog, amazon and goodreads. But first I should post a review of your great novel!!! I forgot.

  44. Teresa W. says:

    I don’t have a blog but always am looking for new authors to read and would be willing to do a review of the book!

  45. Oh this sounds like a great read! I’ll have to check it out tomorrow, when I go on my next book shopping spree. (Gotta love those Borders rewards coupons!!! *wg*)

  46. Pingback: lisapaitzspindler.com»Blog Archive » Thirteen Weekly Roundup Links

  47. Janie H says:

    :razz: I posted on my pitiful blog. I emailed friends, and then posted at Dear Author. I’ll do Amazon next. It’s a great book and deserving of a lot of readers. And yes, it did remind me of Kinsale, too.

  48. Ann Aguirre says:

    Janie, I’m so glad I’m not the only one to notice that. It wasn’t a similarity in style so much as a feeling I got when reading it, you know?

  49. Meredith, will there be more books related to this one, like other characters in the book?Whats up next and when for you?

    Hi, Caffey! Yep, I plan to write a connected book (Lockwood’s story), but not immediately. My next two historicals are set two decades later, in the 1880s, and will be hitting the shelves in summer 2009. They have no immediate connection to The Duke of Shadows, although you may hear familiar titles mentioned once or twice. :smile:

  50. orannia says:

    HI Ann!

    I’ve managed to post the picture (and hopefully a link – I’m new to the blog world so it took quite a few goes :)



    PS I’m really looking forward to reading Grimspace! It sounds amazing – a friend recommended it and she LOVED it!

  51. Ann Aguirre says:

    You did great, Orannia! I really hope you enjoy Grimspace, and I’m glad your friend loved it. :smile:

  52. Maya says:

    posted on my blog about DoS today. am intrigued to see how the story goes, given the strong feelings expressed in various reviews, and invocation of the name of kinsale!

  53. Pingback: sweepsgoat.com

  54. orannia says:

    Thank you Ann! I can’t wait to read it!

    :blush: Instead of ‘goes’ I should have written ‘attempts’. (Obviously my brain and fingers weren’t connected, which is very embarrassing as I am a ‘stickler’ for the correct use of English).


  55. Zara says:


    The book sounds awesome! If it can be compared to Kinsale, I’ve got to read it. If I were to win, I could review it at Romance Junkies if no other reviewer already has it out. If they do, I would post a review on Amazon. I’ll be sure to tell my book club members that we need to check this one out. Thanks for the recommendation!

  56. Johannah B says:

    No blog, but telling others and would read and write about it.
    Thanks for having a giveaway.

  57. Laurie H says:

    Thanks for the excerpts – can’t wait to get my hands on it now! Yes, promise to review!

  58. Carolyn says:

    :smile: Count me in!! Thanks.

  59. Jill Dunlop says:

    Hi Ann, I figured I would go ahead and enter the contest too. Here is my link to my post: http://romancerookie.blogspot.com/2008/04/enter-duke-of-shadows-sweepstakes.html

    (Sorry, I am not good with HTML code. I am still learning)

  60. Kimberly B. says:

    If I win this contest, I will post a review of the book on Good Reads!
    Off to email my friend!

  61. Nicole Price says:

    This sounds like a great book. I can’t wait to read it. Please enter me too. I have no problem posting a review. And I’m going to let my stepmom know about this contest too. If she wins, she’ll share :)

  62. Pamk says:

    I posted about this on my blog


  63. Megan says:

    I’m blogless, but I promise to review the book somewhere if I win! From the excerpts posted here and on review sites, it sounds like a gorgeous read.

  64. I don’t have a blog. I will enter any comments when I win. I belong to a book club, and will recommend this book.

  65. Ann Aguirre says:

    Wow, this contest is doing so well. I thought the entries might taper off, but I’m still getting new ones daily, which is awesome. I can’t wait to announce the winners on Monday!

  66. ellie says:

    I would review this wonderful novel. I already did tell several friends about it. Thanks for this wonderufl giveaway.

  67. Pingback: Enter the Duke of Shadows Sweepstakes « Amateur de Livre’s Weblog

  68. Tracee says:

    Just posted this on my blog at http://amateurdelivre.wordpress.com – am so excited about this, I think I would love this :grin:
    Thanks for the contest!

  69. Caffey says:

    Hi Meredith! Oh its great to read other books, even single titles between series, so I’m looking forward to those 2009 books as well!
    I have to find your site again to see if you have a newsletter list so we can know the news when books are coming and everything good!

    Meredith when you have some time, what historical romance authors do you like to read? I know we all have many keepers, but can you name a historical romance book thats on your keepers shelf?

  70. abookblogger says:

    Wow, another fantastic book giveaway! Count me in.

    I’ve blogged it at my review/giveaway book blog, A Book Blogger’s Diary.

    Direct Link – http://abookbloggersdiary.blogspot.com/2008/04/enter-duke-of-shadows-sweepstakes.html

    I also have a couple of giveaways going on. Hope you’ll drop by!

    abookblogger at gmail dot com

  71. Theresa N says:

    I PROMISE to leave a review. Sounds like a wonderful book.

  72. Meredith when you have some time, what historical romance authors do you like to read? I know we all have many keepers, but can you name a historical romance book thats on your keepers shelf?

    Absolutely! Here are my top five:

    1) Bliss, by Judith Ivory
    2) To Have and To Hold, by Patricia Gaffney
    3) The Shadow and the Star, by Laura Kinsale
    4) Miss Wonderful, by Loretta Chase
    5) The Windflower, by Sharon and Tom Curtis (Laura London)

    Other historical romance novelists whose books are auto-buys for me include Connie Brockway, Shana Abe, Liz Carlyle, Lisa Kleypas… I know I’m forgetting some here, but my keeper shelf is 3,000 miles away at present!

  73. Janie H says:

    Wow! That sounds like my favorite authors. In fact, I am rereading Bliss by Judy Cuevas right now. The Windflower is a definitive Keeper. Am reading Dance next. Back to writing.

  74. Ann Aguirre says:

    I was thinking that too, Janie.

    The only book that list that I haven’t read (the rest are my Keepers) is The Windflower. Now I’m thinking about looking for it on eBay.

  75. limecello says:

    Oh heck – I fixed the links. I have it on my blogspot blog, and I posted a link to it on my book challenge blog here http://community.eharlequin.com/content/rant-me-never

  76. Caitlin Hoy says:

    I personally don’t have a blog but I would definitely try my hand at a review if I win. I also forwarded the email I recieved from Book Blogger’s Diary subscription list telling me of this contest to my mom and friends so I think that qualifies for entry.
    If not then please email me to tell me what else I need to do. Thank you.


  77. Ann Aguirre says:

    Nope, that’s everything, Caitlin. You’re entered! I’m going to edit your comment, though. I don’t want your email to wind up on somebody’s spam list.

  78. Lucy D =) says:

    I don’t have a blog either :blush:! But I can review it as many times as you like. I love reviewing stuff on Amazon and teensreadtoo! I was actually thinking of making a blog, but my web design skills are sadly lacking! Sometimes technology and I don’t get along. Which might be why I like books so much! :grin:

  79. *sigh* I’ve got a blog but have no clue how to do all that linking. I’m still learning. So I’ll promise to review Duke of Shadows if I win it.

  80. Shoshana says:

    I’ve joined the contest and here’s my link:

    Here’s really hoping that I’d win!

  81. Amy S. says:

    I posted about the contest at my blog.


  82. Pingback: Enter The Duke of Shadows Sweepstakes « My Reading Weblog

  83. Ann Aguirre says:

    And the contest is closed! Thanks for playing everyone. Winners announced shortly.

  84. Pingback: REVIEW: Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary