REVIEW: Bound by Your Touch by Meredith Duran
Dear Ms. Duran:
I was probably the only member of the Dear Author reviewing team that didn’t love your freshman debut, DUKE OF SHADOWS. For me, it read like a love story between you and India and not so much a love story between the characters. I admit that despite the urging of your critique partner, Janine, that I was reluctant to read your follow up book. I put off reading it until recently when I cracked it open just to read the first couple chapters and ended up not being able to put it down.
It’s obvious from the categorization of this post that I gave the book an A. It’s the first without qualification A I’ve given in a long time but I tried to look for flaws and couldn’t find them. This is a story that was technically masterful as well as being a great love story. I think it’s a book in which I would find new layers and meaning each time I read it.
Lydia Boyce is a spinster, living with her sister who is married to the man that Lydia thought she would marry. She’s plainer than her younger two sisters and has sought refuge in the love and approval of her father, a scholar of Egyptian artifacts. Her father has been in Egypt for some time, uncovering ruins and sending goods back to be sold from time to time. He needs more funding and Lydia is his emissary, handling the sale of his goods and writing papers based on her father’s research.
James, Lord Sanburne, has only the mildest interest in Egyptian artifacts. In fact, his only interest is in besting his father. If his father had taken an interest in Chinese goods, James would have wanted the priciest, most difficult to obtain Ming vase. Instead, they duel over Egyptian artifacts. James intrudes on an archaeology society meeting carrying a stela. He steals the thunder of Lydia and likely reduces her chances of gaining funding for her father. Lydia decries his stela as a fake.
Sanburne’s fight with his father is a real one. Sanburne’s sister, Stella, killed her husband after he beat her one too many times. She was put in an asylum and the one visit that Sanburne was granted haunted him. He begged his father to remove her to somewhere else, just as he had begged his father to help his sister when she first ran away from her husband.
Sanburne and Lydia’s attraction to each other made perfect sense. Lydia was very strong. Her personality is strong, of course, but there is mention made of her physical strength. Their lovemaking is fierce with each marking the other. Sanburne, I think, revels in the fact that he could not break Lydia no matter how he tried. He revels in her intellect too: “No. You take my meaning. That’s the joy of seducing an intelligent woman: you follow me perfectly.”
Lydia is attracted to Sanburne because of his seeming ease at taking joy in life, even though that is often a mask. Sanburne challenges her as well. He constantly makes her answer for her actions where no one has in the past. He questions her, makes her think. No matter how insulting she is to him, Sanburne makes her dig deep for the why of it.
The sex scenes in this book were very moving and perfectly in keeping with character and plot. One of my favorite parts was where Sanburne says to Lydia: “”I see every part of you.. your body was only the last bit.” and Lydia replies “Let me see the same.”
Craftwise, this book was amazing. There was no wasted scene or sentence. At one point, James is boxing. In many books a scene like this merely provides a background to have some dialogue. This scene, however, serves to instruct the reader on many points. It shows us why James is physically hardened as Lydia notes. It shows us that James seeks constant absolution for living while his sister is imprisoned. He seeks out pain and maybe even the oblivion of the knock out but never gets it. “He had fists like hams, didn’t he.” The scene provides foreshadowing of Lydia’s weakness and James’ believable use of strength of her behalf. That one scene portrays so many points of the story.
Mirroring was used to great effect. Lydia loves her father and is his emissary. James hates his father and does everything he can to embarrass the man. Lydia is often at loggerheads with her sisters, betrayed by Sophie. James loves his sister and wishes he could have saved her. The way that these two characters’ paths arc and cross and blend is really amazing and I can’t say more because it would ruin the story.
There’s so much I didn’t touch on in the review such as the themes of selfishness, the concept of absolution and redemption, the act of forgiveness. One simple review couldn’t address it all. Readers will have to read the book to see the true beauty of the work.
Of course, now I am beset with another fear. Can any work of yours possibly top this one? A
This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers on June 30, 2009.
Wow. You don’t give straight A’s very often.
I think Jayne didn’t love it either, and Janet/Robin’ recommendation was a moderate one. Jennie, Joonigrrl, Jan and myself were all more enthusiastic about it, IIRC.
I had a feeling you might like at least one of Meredith’s newer books better than The Duke of Shadows, but I wasn’t certain. It’s not always easy to predict what other people will think.
I actually like Written on Your Skin best, though they are both gorgeously written books IMO. It will be interesting to see how readers feel.
Meredith Duran is everything that is right with historical romance. I adored Duke of Shadows and Bound by Your Touch is everything and more. I heard Witten on Your Skin is a bit different. Can’t wait to crack that one open!
Ooh, great recommendation.
Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have this book on pre-order and can’t wait to read it.
I really liked Duke of Shadows a lot, even though I recognize that it has flaws, so I literally cannot wait for Bound by Your Touch. Your review makes me even more eager for June 30. My only disappointment is that by the time I read it, this review will have scrolled by into Dear Author limbo, and I won’t be able to discuss it with anyone!
Wow! What is with this bounty of fabulous historicals lately? I can’t wait for this either, now.
Aoife, I recently finished it and am working on a review as well. My grade was slightly lower than Jane’s, but it is an excellent book and one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.
@JennieI’ll look forward to it, and hopefully by then I’ll have read it, too. I really love having more than one review on a book.
We are in perfect agreement. I loved this book. Meredith is a luminary talent.
This is the second review of Bound By Your Touch I have read this morning and like the first, it has exponentially increased my desire to read the book :) Thank you Jane!
Out of interest (I don’t know why I find secondary characters so fascinating) do we get any resolution WRT the fate of the hero’s sister?
I’ll start with admitting that historicals are not my thing–not for any reason that I can think of anymore, but I just never got into them. Having said that, Jane’s reviews are usually on the money for me, so I’m curious now which means I’m going to be tapping my newly-manicured finger on my Kindle cover until the book gets a Kindle version (it’s not showing up as pre-order yet).
I was enchanted with DoS and reading this A review and another one from AAR has now acheived to bring my impatience to near obsessiveness…
I – need- this- book- right – now.
Oh I can’t wait for this one! Thanks for whetting my appetite Jane!
@Aoife – maybe we can squee together after we’ve read it? (- whether by revisiting this review or via Jennie’s.)
Whew! The suspense was killing me, Jane. So THIS is the A review you were all a-twitter over. Definitely on my list to buy when it comes out — guess it’s going with me to Scotland.
I keep looking to see if someone released this early, but no such luck! I’m really looking forward to reading it. Thanks much for this review, Jane.
@ASable: @SonomaLass: I hope you like this one as much as I did.
‘@Kaetrin: @Aoife: I think we’ll have another review, but feel free to come back and comment on this one. Alternatively, we could host a book chat later in the month. I think that there is plenty of meat to this book to provide chat topics.
@orannia: Yes, the sister’s fate actually plays a big role in James’ character arc but in a surprising way.
@Jane I love the idea of a book chat. There are some books that really seem to lend themselves to those kind of conversations, and I’m happy to hear that you think BbYT might be one of them.
@Kaetrin I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I’m in a squeeing mood after reading it!
@Jane I can’t wait! I know you said that the book would be available as an ebook, but I don’t see a Kindle option (or any other e-book option) for this yet. Is this one of those where the publisher will release the e-book a week or two later, or months and months later? I might actually have to bite the bullet and pick up a paper copy. (Holy cow–haven’t done that since I gave up waiting and hunted down a paper copy of Kristan Higgins’ Fools Rush In.)
Oh wow!! I am so excited about reading these two upcoming books by Meredith Duran. I really liked Duke Of Shadows despite it’s flaws. To hear that she’s earned an A from you on this one makes me squee!!!
Were you told that Simon & Schuster will be issuing this as an ebook? They did not make DOS available that way. Their ebook policy has gotten very sucky.
@ASable: @Jane A: I just sent an email off to the Pocket publicist. Maybe I’ll tweet them too.
Isn’t that beyond frustrating?? S&S used to have a great ebook policy but they’ve regressed into the digital dark ages.
@Jane: Yay! Thank you!
@Jane A: ARRGGGHHH! I’m with you . . .
According to @Pocket_Books, Bound by Your Touch will be available on June 30 in ebook format.
@Jane: You rock. :)
I really liked The Duke of Shadows. It wasn’t a perfect 10 for me but I was very impressed. It’s so exciting to find a new author with this much talent and promise. Great review, thanks.
I just read Duke of Shadows yesterday, completely forgetting Bound by Your Touch had not yet been released. Although I liked DoS an awful lot (with much sighing and grinning), an A review from you assures me I won’t be disappointed with the next book.
@ Jane – thank you! I’ve ‘suggested’ it to my library, so fingers crossed they purchase it :)
Thanks to my over-eager local bookstore that had this book for sale over the weekend (along with some other June 30 releases, I might add), I didn’t have to wait for the e-book.
Given Jane’s review, I had high expectations for this book and kept waiting for it to fail on some point or other. But it didn’t. It was a wonderful, lush, satisfying read that felt like a much longer, much denser book. The biggest reason this book worked for me is the heroine. On of the reasons I’ve never been drawn to historicals is that I hate plain, virgin heroines who overdo the whole push and pull thing with the hero–they spend most of the book lusting after the hero, wondering why or why does the hero even like plain, spinster ole me, but when the hero does show his interest, then it becomes an insult to the heroine’s virginity! Ugh. That stuff drives me nuts, but Lydia was so different it was refreshing. Even though she did question James’ interest in her, she wasn’t whining about it or acting the part of the coy, innocent virgin. She was simply gathering facts, which fit perfectly with her scholarly personality. Thankfully, too, the sex between them wasn’t about James overcoming Lydia’s resolve, or anything so trite. Ms. Duran makes clear that James and Lydis are evenly matched in this regard, even with Lydia’s inexperience.
As for the hero, well, I confess I wasn’t sure about him at first. He seemed like the typical dandy/rake that was going to be transformed by the love of a good woman. But the more I read, the more I realized how deftly this author wove his character. There was real depth to him that matched Lydia’s.
The other part of what made this book so successful for me was the writing. As Jane points out, no scene or sentence was wasted. I’d even go out on a limb and say no word was wasted. Ms. Duran crafts excellent prose without wasting words on empty descriptions. Also, I thought the dialogue between James and Lydia was excellent. Very strong and carefully written to push the story forward.
My only complaint with this book is that now I’m going to have to add Ms. Duran to my ever-expanding list of writers that I follow.
@Asable: Yeah, I am so glad that it worked for you. It’s hard to give an A to a book because I recognize the expectations that are being set, but I really could not think of a flaw in the story.
We definitely need to have a book chat regarding this book because there are so many things I would love to talk about with other readers. Like, what did you think of the patterning of the father/sister dynamic for both characters. The story was surprisingly villian-less but I never felt that it lacked tension.
If there was an area of complaint, perhaps it was the sequel baiting with Phin? or maybe the use of the Egyptian artifact?
@ Jane: I love the idea of a book chat! The book certainly has plenty of material that lends itself to discussion, which was part of the appeal for me. It felt rich. The main characters were well-rounded, with flaws and positive attributes that made sense for them. The family relationships were complicated and nuanced, and the progression and pacing of the romance was credible. The sequel-baiting was obvious, but I didn’t find it distracting–in fact, I liked the interaction between James and Phin (and Elizabeth too). It made James human when, at times, especially at the beginning, he came across as just a spoiled, slobbering drunk.
I have to say, as a reader, this book was entertaining and certainly well-worth the fact that I kicked my husband out of the house yesterday so I could finish it! But as a writer, it was also instructive. There are lessons here about pacing, about how to build tension in a credible and realistic manner, about how to properly use a backstory (I’m thinking about Stella here, and to a certain extent, George & Sophie), about how to write “opposites attract” characters without falling into the trap of making them so unsuited for each other, the reader is left to wonder why they are actually together (which ties into the use of mirroring, which like Jane, I loved).
I say go for it with the bookchat. Though it may be a good idea to wait until more people have had a chance to read the book.
It is interesting, the first time I read the book, I missed the sequel set up entirely! Meredith told me that the characters from Written on Your Skin appeared in BBYT. And I was like “Which ones were they?”
But when I read WOYS my picture of that Sanburne/Phin relationship became much more complete. Sanburne appears in a couple of the scenes in Written on Your Skin, and I hope it’s not spoiling too much to say that one of them is a scene from BBYT. So you get the same scene from two very different viewpoints. I really loved getting the two perspectives, and also seeing Sanburne through Phin’s eyes and Phin though Sanburne’s.
ARGH!!!! I’m DYING to read this book, and can’t find it for sale at any of the e-book retailers.
Has anyone else found it?
Hubby just got me a Sony e-reader for my birthday, and I’m determined that I will be purchasing mostly ebooks so I can play with my new toy.
The Kindle version is still not available as of moments ago my time 12:00pm. I have my doubts that one will be available any time soon because The Duke of Shadows out at the end of March 2008 has never been released for Kindle. I sincerely hope to be proved wrong in this case. It is all so very frustrating for me as a reader & seems so very foolish on the part of the publisher/Pocket.
@Wishverse Today on Twitter, Pocket Books said that there was a production delay and the ebook wouldn’t be available until the 21st of July which is outrageous in my opinion.
I think the Kindle version falls under Amazon’s jurisdiction, not the actual publisher. I read somewhere that they (Amazon) have total say over whether or not a book gets Kindled (and I could be wrong, so please take with the obligatory grain of salt).
I do know that there’s usually a button on the Amazon webpage for the book that says “Request this book on the Kindle!” and it sends a notification to the Powers That Be at Amazon.
Hope that helps. :)
ETA – I just checked and the box (under the book cover) says “Tell the Publisher you want to read this on Kindle”. So I was wrong! But if everyone clicks the button… ;)
@ Wishverse and Jill: It’s not just a Kindle thing–the S&S website lists an ebook option for the Duke of Shadows also, but if you click on it, it says the book’s not currently available as an ebook. Production delay my tush!
I so love that most of the ebooks I want to read right away (i.e. Julia Quinn’s, Victoria Dahl’s and Loretta Chase’s new books) are available on the publication date. But it’s frustrating that some of the books I’d really like to read have never been released in ebook format, or will be released weeks later than the publication date.
I remember someone else complaining about this when Kresley Cole’s book came out in January (it didn’t affect me then because I hadn’t received my lovely red Sony) but I did feel sympathy for the reader having to wait to read a much anticipated novel.
I’m left contemplating whether or not I should invoke my Amazon Prime and have Meredith Duran’s new book here in two days or wait for the ebook release in three weeks. In which case I have to wonder, why even have an ereader? (yes, I know…the incredible convenience of carrying around 250 books in my purse has great appeal, as well as being able to get my hands on all those free public domain books w/o having to sit in front of a computer to read them)
I don’t wanna wait 3 weeks!! (said in a highly annoying whiny voice)
@Jane: Thanks so much for the update. I don’t Twitter so that is welcome info that I would never have received. 21 days! That is a long wait & a big disappointment too. Better late than never. I guess…
@Jill Myles: I checked other ebook sites (Sony, BOB, Fictionwise) along with Amazon & neither of Meredith Duran’s books are available so I don’t think the problem here is Amazon. I have hit the “Tell the Publisher you want to read this on Kindleâ€ button daily for both of her books for several months now. Any of her books listed on Amazon in fact. I love that “give me what I want now” button but am unsure if it really makes a difference. The button has been clicked for other still unavailable books more times than I can count.
I just finished reading this book, my first by Duran. I bought it because Jane and I more often than not have similar tastes, even if I sometimes disagree on the grades, and I was intrigued by her A grade.
Bound by Your Touch left me curiously unmoved. It’s a bit of a paradox because I did read it in one morning/afternoon, but I consciously thought several times that I was really bored and I’d put it down to read email or check on different online sites. Nevertheless, I finished it.
Not sure exactly what to make of my reaction. I’d probably give it a C. It seems well enough crafted, but the characters just did not do a thing for me, at all.
I’m really in a slump here. None of the books others have been really excited about lately did a thing for me. I have the new Chase and the new Putney waiting right next to me, but now I’m afraid I’ll find them ho-hum, too.