The Duke and I is a historical romance by Julia Quinn. The first of the immensely popular Bridgerton series. For me, it was a case of lost potential. The book started off full of promise, quickly dwindled in pace and ended without invoking any interest.
Simon Basset is scarred (on the inside.. on the outside he has to have dreamy good looks) because his father was an awful father. Simon stammered as a child and his father desired perfection. How did grown up Simon (now Duke of Hastings) decide to take revenge on his harsh heartless father? Simon decided not to have children and kill the Hastings family name once and for all. Err.. this is all supposed to be part of the dark tortured past that is a must for a damaged sensitive hero pretending to be a rake and yearning (without knowing) for reform, love and acceptance.
Daphne Bridgerton is the girl next door. Having 3 elder brothers and more siblings (The Bridgerton family is huge.. which is a good thing because then you get a number of better books in this series), has lead to potential suitors staying away or never giving her a serious thought. She does not sweep anyone (worthwhile) off their feet with her sweet looks or charm. So, she has known no passion in her life. But, she wants children and a husband. Only no one (I stress.. worthwhile..) is there to propose.
Daphne’s siblings are the best thing about The Duke and I. Anthony, Benedict, Colin (yes they are in alphabetical order.. all the way till H) and the younger ones, bring in an infusion of chaos and excitement into the drab storyline. There were moments that were funny and fun.
Simon is Anthony’s best friend. But Daphne is Anthony’s sister, and how can anyone be good enough for his sister, let alone a former rake (best friend or not) who has sworn never to get married? So, hotheaded Anthony is sharp to catch on something brewing between Daphne and Simon and disapprove with close to disastorous consequences. It’s a wonder the author will be able to convince us (in another book in the series) that this Anthony guy could fall in love himself.
Anyway, brilliant Simon comes up with this original brilliant sensible scheme – Let’s pretend to be in love. Much to his benefit, if Simon (A Duke!) professes his interest in Daphne, other vulture mothers with unmarried marriageable daughters stay away. For Daphne (potential wallflower), this is good because if a Duke is showing interest in her, surely the other young men will also follow suit.
All good so far, but then the reader gets hit by the undeniable fact that the book could have been called “A bad heir day”. Remember Simon’s tragic past? How can he have a son when he has vowed not to? And Daphne desperately wants one, even though innocent girls like her have no idea how and what leads to one.
Which brings me to a conspiratory whisper – There are quite a few love scenes in this book. If you prefer your books to be chaste and pure, probably stay away from Julia Quinn. But, if you don’t mind the thrill of seduction and flowery page long descriptions then read away.
Am still not deterred and will pick the next book in the series. Till then.. find a Duke (hopefully who didn’t stammer as a child) and make sure you keep him..