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--- 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---Daphney 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 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 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...
The Duke and I is the first installment in Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series. And it certainly sets the expectations high for the rest of the series.
Simon Arthur Henry Fitzranulph Basset, Earl Clyvedon, at the tender age of 4, was deemed (by his father) inadequate to be the tenth Duke of Hastings. The ninth Duke of Hastings made no secret to Simon that he believed his son was an idiot due to his stammer. Fortunately, Simon was a stubborn little boy that chose to prove that his father was the idiot. But regardless of his success in that matter, his father’s rejection affected him more than he cared to admit. So much so that he has chosen to never marry. Never have children. And in the end, let the title that his father so adored fall back on the Crown.
Daphne Bridgerton is the fourth of the Bridgerton siblings. Easy to remember when they are named in alphabetical order – Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory and Hyacinth. After two seasons and four less than palatable marriage offers, Daphne fears that she will always be considered the girl everyone wants to be friends with and never the girl every man wants to marry.
When Simon meets Daphne at Lady Danbury’s ball, he sees the perfect opportunity to avoid the matchmaking mamas. To avoid the marriage market, he and Daphne decide to embark on a mock courtship that should also lure in more suitors for her. And it works! Except now Simon is thinking about Daphne all the time and Daphne is not ashamed to admit to herself that she has fallen quite in love with the tenth Duke of Hastings.
The Duke and I is a lovely start to the Bridgerton series. Simon is the perfect aristocratic hero. Funny and kind to those close to him. Haughty and arrogant to strangers. And underneath it all lays a loneliness and insecurity that provides the perfect amount of angst to his otherwise perfect character. Daphne is just plain loveable. With three older brothers, she is just as comfortable being friendly with the boys as she is with the girls. Together they make a fun and loving couple that you root for until the end.
Another wonderful thing about this Bridgerton novel is that you get a little taste of every Bridgerton. My favorite is that of the wonderful and amazing mother of them all, Violet Bridgerton. We are given a wonderful view of the relationship Daphne has with Violet. And nothing can compare with the “wedding night” conversation that Violet tries to have with Daphne. Let’s just say that her ability to talk about sex is lacking. So much so that we find in a later book that Eloise and Francesca pool their pin money to bribe a maid so they can get a decent account of what the wedding night is really all about.
Needless to say, I enjoyed the Duke and I. It is a lovely romance highlighted by Quinn’s amazing genius humor and witty dialogue.