The Duke and I (The Bridgertons #1)
By: Julia Quinn
Format/Source: Mass bound paperback; my purchase
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 sister, the lovely—and almost-on-the-shelf—Daphne Bridgerton. But the two of them know the truth—it’s all an elaborate plan to keep Simon free from marriage-minded society mothers. And as for Daphne, surely she will attract some worthy sutiors 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 complete 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…
As I mentioned in yesterday, I don’t read much from the historical romance genre (though I suppose Georgette Heyer does fall under that category…but I’ve read nothing from contemporary authors of the genre). But about two years ago I saw this title crop up a number of times amongst the book blogging community so I was curious…and the premise totally caught my attention so I went out and picked up a copy to check out for myself. I absolutely loved it, but never got around to posting my thoughts about it for some reason. I decided to re-visit it recently because a) I have such fond memories of enjoying this book and b) I picked up another one of her books recently on a whim, so I decided to re-read it and share my thoughts this time 😛 Spoilers ahead, perhaps?
Okay, possibly my favourite highlight of this book, more so than the actual romance: the Bridgertons themselves. I guess it’s everyone’s opinion too, but it’s so true: the Bridgertons and loud, crazy, hilarious, but they’re a lovely family unit who love and look out for one another. Many of my favourite scenes has to do with Daphne squaring off with her three older brothers: Anthony, Benedict, and Colin (did I mention their names are alphabetized based on their sequence of birth/in the family?). The banter, the humour is absolutely hilarious, I often had to stop reading because I was laughing quite a bit. I would gladly read a novel solely following a day in this family–sans suitors, sans society, just them (though both really add to the story too). I loved everyone in this family, even as the younger Bridgertons didn’t get much “page” time per se save for Gregory and Hyacinth. And Violet Bridgerton, the matriarch of this colourful family, is amazing: every bit one of those many ambitious mothers looking to secure good spouses for her children, but cares for each and every one of them (not to mention raising them herself for the most part? (*tear* that her husband passed away so early) She is a hero).
And then of course there’s the romance. I loved Simon and Daphne’s banter, the ease between them, how they were friends and co-conspirators in their faux engagement. I love the awkwardness that ensued after their betrothal was established because it just felt so natural between them, and how they wanted to go back to their easy friendship after so much has changed. Their chemistry is electric, but there’s also that sincerity in their love for one another even as they spend the second half overcoming hurdles in their relationship, Simon’s personal issues with his father in the forefront (which, re-reading it now, does feel a tad bit too out far, but I felt for the poor guy, he needed a lot of hugs). Their scenes were also my favourite–heck, I just love the whole book, okay?*
Re-reading The Duke and I was just as fun as the first time. I pretty much read it in two sittings, it was fun to revisit the Bridgertons and antics and general hilarity. I flailed over Simon and Daphne’s budding relationship and rooted for them to work it out. I wasn’t in any rush to check out the other books in the series or to check out her other books at first (too many books, so little time, the usual) but now I’m definitely turning to her books if I’m in need of a change of pace xD Not to mention I’d love to check out more stories featuring this lovely family. Whether you’re a reader of the genre or not, I highly recommend this book, it’s a lot of fun 🙂
Edit to add: Can I just say at this point that this re-read pretty much just set me off on a massive historical romance binge read? The rest of this week will be featuring historical romance book reviews 😛 I also may have picked up a second copy of this book, the new edition including the 2nd epilogue (which was a wonderful continuation/revisitation to the story) :3
* – Edit to add #2: Well, 90-95% of the novel. In my flailings over the book when I typed this review out last year, I forgot to mention that there’s one scene/chapter that was the lowest point for this couple. It was cringing the first time I read it, but in full retrospect now it’s a mess, and what Daphne did was inexcuseable regardless of what she was thinking. I still really like the book and I still recommend it as a starting point to the Bridgerton series and the first half of the book is still delightful and hilarious but yeah, thinking on that one chapter further now it’s problematic and has sort of tempered my final rating & enthusiasm 🙁