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The Duke and I (Bridgertons) Mass Market Paperback – April 28, 2015
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Can there be any greater challenge to London's Ambitious Mamas than an unmarried duke?Lady Whistledown's Society Papers, April 1813 By all accounts, Simon Basset is on the verge of proposing to his best friend's sisterthe lovely and almost-on-the-shelfDaphne Bridgerton. But the two of them know the truthit's all an elaborate ruse to keep Simon free from marriage-minded society mothers. And as for Daphne, surely she will attract some worthy suitors now that it seems a duke has declared her desirable. But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, it's hard to remember that their courtship is a sham. Maybe it's his devilish smile, certainly it's the way his eyes seem to burn every time he looks at her . . . but somehow Daphne is falling for the dashing duke . . . for real! And now she must do the impossible and convince the handsome rogue that their clever little scheme deserves a slight alteration, and that nothing makes quite as much sense as falling in love. Setting: Regency England Sensuality Rating: 7 Relentlessly pursued by match-making mamas and their charges, Simon Bassett, the handsome Duke of Hastings, has grown tired of the societal chase. Tired too is the lovely Daphne Bridgerton, whose matrimonially minded mother is set on finding her daughter the perfect husband. Neither Simon nor Daphne is happy with this annoying state of affairs and both would give anything for a little peace and quiet. Their mutual wish for a respite from the ton's marriage mart leads to a pretend engagement--a scheme that is threatened with exposure by Daphne's suspicious older brother, who happens to know Simon's way with women very well. The two never anticipated that a mutual attraction would lead to the very thing they set out to avoid--a wedding. But Simon fears that his painful past may keep him from being able to truly love anyone. And though Daphne cares for him deeply, she won't settle for anything less than
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Only one thing could induce Simon to forsake his world travels and return to London -- his estranged father's death. The old duke made Simon's life a torment from childhood, belittling the boy for his stammer, leaving him to be raised by servants and forge a successful path in life through sheer force of will -- the will to prove his hated sire wrong. However, he was not prepared for the attention his new title brought to his personal life as Ambitious Mamas flocked to his side to introduce their debutante daughters. When Simon meets Daphne, he's shocked by how quickly she puts him at ease, intrigue colored with a desire to possess her beauty -- until he learns that she's Anthony's sister, which places her in the Strictly Forbidden category of romantic dalliances. Even so, he cannot resist suggesting an audacious scheme -- he'll pay court to Daphne, ostensibly removing himself from the Marriage Market, and she'll become more desirable than ever by virtue of being associated with London's newest duke. But when the fake courtship gives birth to real attachment, lines are crossed -- could marriage between the girl no one wanted and the duke determined to die alone become a love affair for the social record book?
After several years of two very dear friends telling me I'd love Julia Quinn's Regency romances, I finally decided to give The Duke and I a try, and I'm SO glad I did. The first installment in Quinn's popular Bridgerton series sparkles with wit, warmth, and a genuine emotional and intellectual connection that goes far deeper than any physical attraction that sparks between the duke and Daphne. I've read reviews comparing Quinn to Jane Austen, and while Quinn's sly humor and sharp characterizations were certainly inspired by Austen, I think a more apt comparison would liken Quinn to Georgette Heyer, with a dash of the chick-lit sensibilities found in the likes of Hester Browne's or Jill Mansell's novels. In other words, The Duke and I is a clever, funny, warm-hearted romp through Regency England with a romance that will take your breath away and an unexpectedly deep emotional resonance between its hero and heroine -- this is, refreshingly, the story of a physical, emotional, and intellectual union of complementary equals.
I adored the family dynamic exhibited here -- the Bridgertons are the type of sprawling fictional family I love to read about. The may fight and squabble but they are loyal to a fault (as Simon quickly learns even during the early days of his "faux courtship" with Daphne). Although this is very much Daphne's story, Quinn does an excellent job introducing the siblings that will feature in later installments. From the rakish Colin, newly-returned from Europe, to Anthony the eldest, nearly driving himself batty attempting to navigate the Marriage Mart as a very eligible viscount while sheperding his strong-willed family through society's social whirl, to the precocious ten-year-old Hyacinth, whose outspoken wisdom beyond her years marks her as a force to be reckoned with once she comes of age. And I adore their mother, Violet! At first I feared she was Mrs. Bennet reborn, but her occasional flighty absent-mindedness masks the razor sharp wit and intelligence required to survive as matriarch to the lively Bridgerton children.
Although Daphne and Simon's journey from courtship to marriage covers only the span of a few short weeks, I loved the emphasis Quinn placed on their intellectual and emotional compatibility. Yes, they each are highly appreciative of the other's fine form, what makes their romance make my heart sing is how they are both so utterly disarmed and genuinely comfortable in each other's company. Looks may fade with time, but personality is forever, eh? And while keeping with the fact that since this is a mainstream historical romance there are some spicy scenes, refreshingly those occur after marriage. I was really impressed by how Quinn touched on the intimacies of the marital relationship making each partner vulnerable to the other, and how that trust, if lost (speaking of misunderstanding, not abuse) can create a painful rift. Daphne and Simon's commitment to each other, despite their marriage's rocky start and subsequent misunderstandings, is the hook that got me so emotionally invested in this couple and kept my fingers flying to turn the pages.
Quinn possesses a delightfully breezy writing style that oft-times belies the serious issues of emotional weight that she addresses within the pages of Simon and Daphne's story. The prologue, revealing Simon's tragic childhood, reads with the matter of fact tone of a dark fairy tale, one leaving readers to question the possibility of the tortured heir's future happiness. The warmth and humor with which she imbues this romance makes the heart of The Duke and I all the more compelling and memorable, because Quinn doesn't shy away from the difficult issues that could make or break a marriage. Even if her breezy writing style lends itself to playing a *bit* fast and loose with period mannerisms, that is forgivable since The Duke and I is thoroughly engaging, romance for the heart and the mind at its finest. This is wholly memorable, utterly delightful introduction to the Bridgerton clan -- and with the added mystery of the mysterious gossip columnist Lady Whistledown's true identity, whose quips are peppered throughout the novel -- I cannot WAIT to revisit this family in subsequent novels.
Narrated by Rosalyn Landor
Series: The Bridgertons #1
4 Stars - For my rereading of this book I chose the audio version. I found I enjoyed it just as much as when I read it the first time in print! Simon and Daphne are great together. I love that Simon finds peace within himself. I enjoyed watching the characters grow and of course all the Bridgerton siblings crack me up. This is a wonderful story about family.
Rosalyn Landor does a superb job on narration as usual!
On a side note.. the edition I listened to had the 2nd epilogue added on at the end. If you are someone who likes to read in order and not find out the the tiny details.. like who ends up with whom - perhaps save the 2nd epilogue till after all the other main books of the series. Then it's like a little treat to see everyone's life afterwards.
~Paragraphs and Petticoats~
The writing was witty. The relationship was perfect! I loved everything about this book and I plan to devour the series this week.
Poor Simon! What an awful childhood. Joining the Bridgertons was the best thing that ever happened to him. He probably didn't think that in early days, but it all comes right in the end.
I loved Daphne as a heroine. She's smart. She's plucky. She's compassionate and she is a straight shooter. She had to be with three big brothers.
The plotting was excellent. The characterization including all of the side characters was top notch. Being the first in the series that is key as it builds anticipation for each following story and yes, my anticipation is at a high level. On to Anthony's book I go!
Daphne pretty much the quit one except around her family but she does seem to get in all kind of scraps. These two made a mighty good team if only Lord Simon realize it. But Daphne's problem was she has three older brothers. I can sympathize with her. Not a good thing to have when you want to date or in Daphne's case fall in love with a rascal Duke. Enjoy !