The Duke and I
by Julia Quinn
Published by Avon Books
Book 1 in the Bridgerton Series
In the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, rules abound.
From their earliest days, children of aristocrats learn how to address an earl and curtsey before a prince—while other dictates of the ton are unspoken yet universally understood. A proper duke should be imperious and aloof. A young, marriageable lady should be amiable…but not too amiable.
Daphne Bridgerton has always failed at the latter. The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, she has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her. She is simply too deuced honest for that, too unwilling to play the romantic games that captivate gentlemen.
Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society—just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar.
The plan works like a charm—at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule...
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy Historical-Romance Sweet
The Duke and I by Julia Quinn is the first book in her beloved Bridgerton series, and centers around oldest daughter, Daphne Bridgerton, and newly titled Duke of Hastings, Simon Basset. When Simon encounters Daphne saving herself from being attacked by another gentleman, while himself trying to avoid society, he finds himself intrigued and frustrated by the fiery, but kind Bridgerton. Later that evening, he makes Daphne an offer: they pretend to form an attachment. This way, the other girls and their mothers will not bother him, thinking he is already taken, and it will shine Daphne in a new light among the other gentlemen, and increase her suitors. The plan works beautifully - that is, until, the fake attachment turns into love. There is only one problem. Simon, Duke of Hastings has made a vow: to never marry, and to never have children.
So, this book, and in fact, the whole series, would have never ended up on my tbr, if it wasn't for it being adapted for Netflix. The only historical romance I have ever read was the Outlander books, which I loved, but typically it isn't my thing. The cover doesn't appeal to me, nor the title. So that being said, I'm sure Julia Quinn will see an upsurge in sales because of the show (which was wonderful, and I will do a separate post of soon).
So that is how I came across these books.
The Duke and I was good. It's not masterful, by any means, or terribly original. I do like the whole aspect of modern romance tropes being weaved into historical romance (in this case, the whole fake relationship turns to love trope). I was worried that the characters would be too proper, but Julia Quinn writes Simon and Daphne's chemistry well, and I felt the undercurrent of sexual tension between them, in moments that are typically deemed innocent. The story moved along at a fast pace, and was enjoyable for the most part.
I really enjoyed Daphne's character. I loved that she is described as sweet and kind, but we get to see a fiery, almost tomboyish spirit to her. I appreciated her sense of humor, especially when it came to her family. Speaking of family, I adored the Bridgerton family, and Daphne's interactions with each sibling, and her mother. I will admit, I was bothered by Daphne's choices later on. Without spoiling, I will say, I understood her pain and frustration. I don't understand some of her choices, though. And to spoil ... highlight between the arrows of course ------------> what she does to Simon was wrong. He was drunk. He may have wanted to have sex. He did tell her not to stop. So it doesn't start out as rape ... BUT she also took advantage of the fact that he was drunk, and forced him to release inside her, when it was clear he didn't want to. The moment she forced him to come in her, was the moment it turned to rape, and that was hard to read. I understand Simon's anger, and why he leaves. That is a terrible betrayal of trust, and ruins her image in my eyes. <--------------. I enjoyed Simon's character. I don't feel like his character was truly fleshed out, but I loved his backstory, and his perseverance to make himself better. His sense of humor and banter with Daphne was lovely, and I definitely liked the chemistry between the two. What I didn't like was his lie by omission. That wasn't cool. He might not admit it, but he does take advantage of Daphne's ignorance to sex. Another character I thoroughly enjoyed - Lady Whistledown!
The Duke and I was a short, a bit steamy, and sweet for the most part. It's kind of in a grey area for me though. If I am to ignore the event that brings everything to a head in this book, it was good. But that's not how books work. In the end, it works out, but I am left feeling meh about it. I did appreciate that a romance's main conflict was a disagreement on children. For years my husband and me were on the brink of separation for this issue (the difference being, we already had twins). I wanted one more. He didn't. So I felt Daphne's pain. Understood it. I don't think that anyone could truly understand it unless they have dealt with it. It's a need that is so deeply ingrained to who you are, as a person and a woman. To be denied it by the person you love, it hurts. I'm not ignoring Simon's plight here, either. It's a man's right to say no, especially to something as monumental as a child. Never once did I even think about resorting to Daphne's methods though, so my understand only goes so far. Unlike Daphne, I might have hated that my husband said no, but I respected it.
*In case you are wondering, it worked out for us. Eventually, my husband decided he was okay with one more. And nine months later, we welcomed our third and last child into the world. We are happy. The pain I dealt with for eight years, the frustration that my husband dealt with, is gone. We look forward to raising our daughters, and enjoying each other.
Daphne, Anthony, and Benedict hiding from their mother at the ball
Daphne laughing at Simon when he says she should be afraid of him
Daphne laughing at Simon when he is complaining about being introduced to every single lady in the room and their mothers.
Simon's idea of faking an attachment to ward off the single women and their mothers, and help Daphne get more suitors
The outing with the entire family
Anthony and Daphne fighting over who will warm the milk
Simon and Daphne's kiss
Daphne delaying the duel by punching Simon
Simon and Daphne's wedding kiss
Daphne and Simon talking about what Violet told her about sex
Their wedding night
Daphne and Simon making up
Where to Buy
Daphne: "I hadn't realized you would be in attendance."
Daphne: "Ah. Say no more. I understand completely."
Anthony: "She made a list of potential brides. We do love her, don't we?"
Daphne choked on a laugh
Daphne: "Yes, Anthony, we do."
Simon: "You're an annoying little chit, did you know that, Miss Bridgerton?"
Daphne: "Most people find me the soul of kindness and amiability."
Simon: "Most people are fools."
Daphne: "I'm afraid I have to agree with you, much as it pains me."
Simon bit back a smile.
Simon: "It pains you to agree with me, or that most people are fools?"
Daphne: "Both. But mostly the former."
Daphne: "Who would have thought I could be so terrifying? How wonderful."
Simon: "I'm not even going to question that statement."
Lady Danbury: "Your friend Bridgerton approaches."
Simon's eyes followed the direction of her nod. Anthony ambled over, and was only half a second in their presence before Lady Danbury called him a coward.
Anthony: "I beg your pardon?"
Lady Danbury: "You could have come over and saved your friend from the Featherington quartet ages ago."
Anthony: "But I was so enjoying his distress."
Lady Danbury: "Hmmph."
A strange light appeared in her eye, and her head bobbed back and forth between Daphne and Simon.
Then she smiled again.
Simon fought the urge to flee.
Anthony leaned over slightly and whispered in his ear
Anthony: "I am so sorry."
Simon said between clenched teeth
Simon: "I may have to kill you."
Daphne's icicle glare said she'd heard both of them and was not amused.
Daphne: "I give in. What has turned your evening into such a dreadful affair?"
Simon: "What or whom?"
Daphne: "Whom? This grows even more interesting."
Simon: "I can think of any number of adjectives to describe all of the 'whoms' I have had the pleasure of meeting this evening, but 'interesting' is not one of them."
Daphne: "Now, now, don't be rude. I did see you chatting with my brothers after all."
He nodded gallantly, tightening his hand slightly at her waist as they swung around in a graceful arc.
Simon: "My apologies. The Bridgertons are, of course, excluded from my insults."
Daphne: "We are all relieved, I'm sure."
Simon: "Good God, what sort of man do you think I am?"
Daphne: "Well, I was warned about your reputation. And you yourself tried to terrify me with your rakish ways earlier this evening."
Simon: "I did no such thing."
Daphne: "Of course you did. But I forgive you. I'm sure you couldn't help it."
Simon gave her a startled look
Simon: "I don't believe I have ever been condescended to by a woman before."
Daphne: "It was probably past time."
Violet: "I should be delighted. I mean, Daphne should be delighted. Shouldn't you, Daphne?"
Daphne: "Oh, I should."
Anthony: "And I, should take a dose of laudanum, for clearly I am fevered. What the devil is going on?"
Violet: "Anthony! Don't mind him."
Simon: "Oh, I never do."
Voilet: "What the devil do you think you're doing?"
Anthony: "Protecting my sister!"
Violet: "From the duke? He can't be that wicked. Actually, he reminds me of you."
Anthony: "Then she definitely needs my protection."
Simon looked around
Simon: "Where is your brother? You're far too cheeky. Surely someone needs to take you in hand."
Daphne: "Oh, I'm sure you'll be seeing more of Anthony. In fact I'm rather surprised he hasn't made an appearance yet. He was quite irate last night. I was forced to listen to a full hour's lecture on your many faults and sins."
Simon: "The sins are almost certainly exaggerated."
Daphne: "And the faults?"
Simon: "Probably true."
Daphne: "Well, true or not, he thinks you're up to something."
Simon: "I am up to something."
Her head tilted sarcastically as her head rolled upward
Daphne: "He thinks you're up to something nefarious."
Simon: "I'd like to be up to something nefarious."
Daphne: "What was that?"
Simon: "My dear Daphne ...
Her lips parted slightly in surprise
Simon: "Surely you're not going to force me to call you Miss Bridgerton. After all we've been through."
Daphne: "We've been through nothing, you ridiculous man, but I suppose you may call me Daphne nonetheless."
He nodded in a condescending manner.
Simon: "You may call me 'your grace.' "
She swatted him.
Simon: "Very well. Simon, if you must."
Daphne: "Oh I must."
Daphne said, rolling her eyes.
Daphne: "Clearly, I must."
Daphne colored red. Deep, dark red.
Simon: "I should give my entire fortune for those thoughts."
Anthony: "Mother, I am trying to have a conversation with the duke."
Violet looked at Simon.
Violet: "Do you want to have this conversation with my son?"
Simon: "Not particularly."
Violet: "Fine, then. Anthony, be quiet."
Anthony: "You don't know. You don't know what he has done."
Violet: "No more than what you have done, I'm sure."
Anthony: "Precisely! Good God, I know exactly what is going on in his brain right now, and it has nothing to do with poetry and roses."
Simon pictured laying Daphne down on a bed of rose petals.
Simon: "Well, maybe roses."
Anthony: "I'm going to kill him."
Simon: "If I recall, earlier this week you told me you wanted to introduce us."
Anthony: "That was before I thought you'd be interested in her!"
Simon: "You don't hold her in terribly high regard, do y-?"
Before he could even finish the query, Anthony had him by the throat.
Anthony: "Don't you dare insult my sister."
But Simon had learned quite a bit about self-defense on his travels, and it took him only two seconds to reverse their positions.
Simon: "I wasn't insulting your sister. I was insulting you."
Daphne: "Mother told me that the two of you are in beastly moods, and I should leave you alone, but I thought I ought to make certain neither of you had killed the other."
Anthony: "No. Just a light strangle."
Daphne: "Who strangled whom?"
Anthony: "I strangled him, then he returned the favor."
Daphne: "I see. I'm sorry to have missed the entertainment."
Daphne: "If you recall, I told you so."
Simon: "How genteel of you to mention it."
She smiled gamely
Daphne: "I could not resist. With four brothers, after all, one must always seize the moment when one may say, 'I told you so."
Simon looked from sibling t o sibling.
Simon: "I don't know which one of you I pity more."
Anthony: "What the devil is going on? As as for your remark, pity me. I am a far more amiable brother than she is a sister."
Simon: "I assume this means I am disinvited for supper this evening?"
Daphne: "No! Is Hastings invited for supper? Why did you not say something?"
Anthony: "It was days ago. Years."
Simon: "It was Monday."
Simon: "And the company's not that bad."
Daphne shot a pointed look at Anthony, who was leaning against the rail on the opposite side of the deck, glowering at them both.
Daphne: "All of the company?"
Simon: "If you mean your belligerent brother, I'm actually finding his distress most amusing."
Daphne fought a smile and didn't win.
Daphne: "That's not very kindhearted of you."
Simon: "I never said I was kind. And look - he knows we're talking about him. It's killing him."
Daphne: "I thought you were friends."
Simon: "We are friends. This is what friends do to one another."
Daphne: "Men are mad."
Simon: "Generally speaking."
She rolled her eyes
Daphne: "I thought the primary rule of friendship was the one was not supposed to dally with one's friend's sister."
Simon: "Ah, but I'm not dallying. I'm merely pretending to dally."
Daphne nodded thoughtfully and glanced at Anthony.
Daphne: "And it's still killing him - even though he knows the truth of the matter."
Simon: "I know. Isn't it brilliant?"
Simon: "You Bridgerton ladies are very demanding, did you know that?"
Hyacinth: "Are you funning me?"
He smiled right at her
Simon: "What do you think?"