The Duke and I
By Julia Quinn
What’s it about?
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…
What I think:
The Bridgerton series is heading to Netflix later this week and is all over Bookstagram at the moment, so I was super excited to be invited to take part in the Tandem Collective readalong/watchalong.
I’ve read and enjoyed historical romance before so this is familiar territory.
And I really enjoyed it until the last few chapters. There are spoilers ahead so stop now if you don’t want to know, but I don’t think I can write an honest review without commenting on the last part if the book.
I really enjoyed most of the book. It’s funny and charming, occasionally slapstick and a bit silly, but there are lots of fun charcters and warm relationships.
The Bridgertons are a large and boisterous family. Loving and close they stand out in Regency society where this isn’t always the case.
Heroine Daphne is both sassy and feisty and surprisingly dim. She has refused unsuitable marriage proposals even when it lessens her chance of making good match and she is not afraid to stand up for herself.
Her attraction to Simon, Duke of Hastings and friend of her brothers, is instant and troubling. She doesn’t believe for a moment that he will be interested in her. She sees herself as nice and good company but not the sort of woman a man of his status would fall for.
There is real chemistry between them and lots of banter as the flirt and get to know each other.
It’s the marriage where the book becomes problematic. It felt like Simon was forced into marrying Daphne or be killed by her brother. It seemed unnecessary.
Simon’s reasons for not wanting to get married are deeply personal and stem from a traumatic childhood. He wants to let the Hastings line die out and does not want to have children. Daphne is desperate for marriage and can’t wait tinhave children of her own.
I found it unbelievable that Daphne would sacrifice the thing she’s wants most in the world to marry a man that doesn’t really want to marry her. I know it’s an historical romance and duels and arranged marriages are common tropes, but the reactions of Daphne’s brothers to her relationship with the Duke seem a bit over the top.
And then you get to the really disturbing part. Having found out how babies come about and realising that Simon is preventing this from happening, Daphne rapes him. There’s no other way to describe what she does. She initiatives sex while he is drunk and forces him to ejaculate inside her even as he says No.
The relationship, understandably, falls apart after this. Until that is Hastings realises that all he needs is the love of a good woman and children to step out of his father’s shadow. By the epilogue they are blissfully happy and have 4 children.
I’m really interested to see how the TV series handles this part of the book. It was certainly uncomfortable reading.
This is definitely a book that has left me torn. Parts I loved and parts I really didn’t. I will definitely be watching the show over the holidays. Living in Tier 4 I now have plenty of extra time on my hands! And I will almost certainly read the next books in the series.
Thank you to Little Brown Book Group UK and Tandem Collective for gifting me a copy if the book and a lovely box of treats to go with it.
If you want to read The Duke and I head to:
Waterstones: click here
Amazon.co.uk: click here