Julia Quinn has done what I thought would be impossible with The Duke And I—she has given the world, quality Jane Austen vibes, but has also sprinkled and splashed in some hot and steaming swoon that will keep you clutching your pearls and fanning yourself with whatever you have closest to you.
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: January 5th, 2000
Format: e-book / Audiobook
From New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn comes the first novel in the beloved Regency-set world of her charming, powerful Bridgerton family, now a series created by Shonda Rhimes for Netflix.
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…
“There were rules among friends, commandments, really, and the most important one was Thou Shalt Not Lust After Thy Friend’s Sister.”
Set in the height of Regency London society, comes the story of Dafne, a lady forever stuck in the friend zone, and Simon a Duke with a past that refuses a future. When Simon returns to London from abroad, he is quickly thrusted into the tons determined plans to have him married off to one of their own. However, in a meet cute moment, Simon and Dafne are given a chance to beat the ton at least for one season—fake a courtship. Simon would be able to avoid the worst of the mothers who want their daughters wed, and Dafne would finally be seen as more than just a friend to the other bachelors in the city. But what none of them took into account is what would happen if love decides to step in?
I am really happy that I started my historical romance second chance with this story because wow what a fun little journey this was (thank you Ruby!). Dafne and Simon were exactly what I expected from a Regency romance but yet there was something more to it that kept me listening and laughing throughout the entirety. If I was forced to describe them and their dynamic I would probably have to surmise them as a dirty version of Elizabeth Bennet and a very dirty (almost naughty) Mr. Darcy.
I loved the instant chemistry that Dafne had with Simon and how natural it came to them. Nothing felt forced when it came to them and I really did enjoy just how much they complimented each other with both their flaws and perfections.
“His mouth captured hers, trying to show her with his kiss what he was still learning to express in words. He loved her. He worshipped her. He’d walk across fire for her.”
My favorite character however, was a character we never met at all but through her written gossip column—Lady Whistledown. This woman could adopt me and I would cry tears of happiness. Lady Whistedown (lady W) is the eyes and ears of the ton and by god is she a fresh modern take on the absurdities of historical romances that had me usually staying away from the genre. Each chapter starts with a passage from her column about what is currently going on with the events in the story line and I deliberately would save some of my popcorn for chapter beginnings because Lady W’s thoughts felt like I was buddy reading the story with her rather than reading alone.
What I didn’t particularly like, however, and the reason this wasn’t a five star novel for me was the super problematic scene where Dafne takes advantage of Simon to which there becomes a very big issue of consent. Consent is sexy, and there was absolutely no consent (in my eyes) in that moment—thus I was super uncomfortable and almost angry at what had developed. Like I said, Consent is sexy and the lack of it here dimmed my love for this story significantly.
Other than this, I really did enjoy this story and these characters. I found myself daydreaming and itching to return to these characters and see the HEA’s for the others Bridgertons. Julia Quinn put her stamp on my return to Historical Romance and I’m excited to see if other novels can continue to hold my attention the way she has with the Duke and I. If you are thinking about giving historical romance a try, I highly recommend starting with the Duke and I!
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