Originally posted here.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.