Bound by Your Touch (#71 on AAR's Top 100 Romances)

Meredith Duran

An AAR Top 100 Romance

originally published on June 15, 2009

I read about half of Meredith Duran’s debut novel, The Duke of Shadows, last year. Somehow, the book just didn’t hit me right, but I thought the author showed promise and her choice of setting was very interesting. So when I saw this one while perusing the books-for-review list, I decided to give her another shot. And I was most happy I did. There’s some damn fine storytelling within the 368 pages of Bound by Your Touch.

Lydia Boyce is the oldest of the three daughters of the esteemed academic Henry Boyce, whose passion is Egypt. Henry has been gone for much of Lydia’s childhood, but is now on the verge of making an amazing discovery – the true site of the first stop on the Exodus. He just needs a little more cash to finance it. Lydia, dedicated to making her father’s dream a reality, is making a speech to some important, deep pocketed men, and is therefore rather annoyed when, in the midst of her appeal, James Durham, the gorgeous and glittering but useless son of the Earl of Moreland, bursts in with an Egyptian stela she can tell at first glance is a fake. She lets fly at him only to be burned when it is eventually revealed that this stela came in a shipment of goods her father sent to England.

James doesn’t actually care that much about the stela or about being sold a fake antiquity. His primary purpose in collecting, or for that matter, in everything else, is to annoy, embarrass, or show up his father. Lydia’s pronouncement robbed him of that opportunity, and he wouldn’t mind returning the favor. However, when Lydia beards him in his own den and all but demands that he keep the matter quiet in return for reimbursement, James finds himself intrigued by the curious mix of her outspokenness and vulnerability. He offers her a deal: his silence for one kiss. And from there the sparks fly.

The above doesn’t sound like it’s much out of the ordinary, but it actually reads quite a bit differently from all of those outspoken-spinster-bluestocking-meets-rake romances we are all so familiar with. And the “suspense” part of the book – the mystery of where the stela originated – reaches its denouement with nary a black mustachioed villain in sight. How refreshing.

Basically, at its heart, Bound by Your Touch is the story of two people whose complicated painful relationships with their families have molded them into the somewhat dysfunctional people they are. James, when we first meet him, seems like a charming, gorgeous, self-destructive loser. He has everything anyone could ever want in life, but he’s pissing it away. He regularly indulges in alcohol and other stimulants to excess and otherwise tries to kill himself via more direct routes, such as boxing with streetwise brutes for fun and profit. He has one obsession – to cause his father pain. He does this to pay his father back for the betrayal of his sister whom James feels they both failed in her hour of need and who now resides in a lunatic asylum as a convicted murderess. James’s life is pretty dark right now, but he handles it with a wry and witty self awareness that is actually quite charming.

Lydia, for her part, is devoted to her father, but, conversely, dislikes and distrusts her sister who stole her first suitor from her and married him. Things are tense in that household as well, especially as the two have to work together to launch their other sister, Ana, this season. Since Lydia is a spinster, she derives her worth from running her father’s legitimate antiquities business and drumming up support for his work. She is all business and propriety, and, therefore, James seems like a waste of oxygen to her – someone with all the opportunities in the world and no direction whatsoever.

So they are opposites, and, as you know, opposites tend to, well, attract. And, boy, do they attract. There is some pretty sizzling sexual tension between James and Lydia, and it is delicious to read. It’s also fun to watch them try to take each other’s measure, as they are both smart and observational. As the story progresses, things get complicated, and both of them must confront their deeply held beliefs about themselves, their families, and each other. I liked how Duran carefully mirrored their situations comparing and contrasting the dutiful and the rebellious, revealing to be two sides of one painful coin.

It’s so exciting to read such a solidly written book as Bound by Your Touch is. Everything here – characters, plotting, love story – is just so well put together and enjoyable that I have to give it my enthusiastic recommendation; there’s no question. If you have been wallowing in romance novel ennui, go out and pick this one up. And there’s a sequel too – more good news!

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Book Details

Reviewer :      Rachel Potter

Grade :     A

Sensuality :      Hot

Book Type :     

Review Tags :     

Recent Comments


  1. Dabney Grinnan
    Dabney Grinnan October 14, 2017 at 11:16 am - Reply

    I do love this book although I like The Duke of Shadows even more. But James is such a wonderful dark hero–I love the way Ms. Duran makes him find his better self in order to win Lydia’s hand.

  2. Caz Owens
    Caz Owens October 14, 2017 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    This was my first Meredith Duran and it blew me away.

  3. LeeF October 14, 2017 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    And the e-book is $2.99…click!

  4. Ali October 14, 2017 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    I’m with Dabney – Duke of Shadows is in my top 3 favorites, but this one is still in the top 5. Duran is a tremendously talented wordsmith.

  5. Usha October 15, 2017 at 11:45 pm - Reply

    Fool Me Twice is absolutely brilliant.

  6. Blackjack
    Blackjack October 16, 2017 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    Bound by Your Touch introduced me to Duran, who is now among my very favorite authors. I tend to think her writing has become stronger over time, but it would be interesting to go back and reread this. I recall that the writing itself felt a bit extravagant and convoluted at times.

    Fool Me Twice is one of my favorites, but I also love At Your Pleasure, Written on Your Skin, and Wicked Becomes You. Her most recent book, A Lady’s Code of Misconduct was good too.

  7. mel burns October 17, 2017 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    I am so thrilled that Duran’s next book is about the Earl of Lockwood. Her first book Duke of Shadows was so different than the normal historical and she has been consistent in creating evocative characters ever since. If I am forced at gunpoint to pick one favorite it would be Fool Me Twice. That book knocked me flat it was absolutely delicious!
    Bound By Your Touch is a damn good book, I think I’m going to start at the beginning and re-read all of Ms. Duran’s books this winter.

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