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…
I didn’t read this on purpose. I was looking at special edition collections of books on a site, and they had all the Bridgerton ones, and I was like dang there are so many! What’s this book even about?? So I looked it up in my library app to read the summary. Then I started reading a sample. Then I read the 120 page sample and ended up borrowing it and reading it in like two days and loving every second.
So with that context in mind, this was a fairly standard Victorian romance, what with the secret gossipy identity, and the gender roles both enforced and flaunted, and those moments of “ooh if we’re seen talking alone my virtue will be besmirched” and all that. If you’re into it, this was well done. Strangely, I am into it, despite how much of it is extremely backwards (you kiss a dude and suddenly you have to marry him? fuuuuck that!).
For me, any romance with this premise that can get me to enjoy the story and characters despite all the inherent problems of the time is impressive. This one was easy to read (clearly), and usually I’d say I’d continue the series no doubt. But since it’s 8 books each with a different main character of the 8 siblings in the family, I’m not entirely sure I’ll enjoy having to learn entirely new ones each time. I might get around to it eventually, but I’m not sprinting for them or anything. Maybe I will end up watching the show now, though.
It’s got some humor, and a bit of that “unlikely lovers” angle, and also both characters do really truly awful things to each other at times, to the point where I was like “Oh my god, no, please tell me you’re not about to…” and then they did and I was genuinely unsure if I could forgive them, let alone the other character. I guess it depends on your view of what’s terrible, but they definitely both abuse each other’s trust in really extreme ways. Also dude’s a bit of a dumbass in his key “deep dark secret” reasoning, but whatever. Overall it was pretty good, with only a few stupid things.
3 thoughts on “Review: The Duke and I by Julia Quinn”
I’d been avoiding this series because of the hype, but it sounds like maybe I shouldn’t do that. It sounds really fun. 🙂
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Yo I am 100% with you. I had literally never even considered reading this, but I’m so glad I accidentally did lol. If you like the usual Victorian-y romances this will do it!
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