The Duke & I by Juila Quinn - REVIEW


The Duke & I (Bridgerton #1) by Julia Quinn

Publication Date: 2000

Publisher: Avon

Genre: Historical Romance

 

Synopsis:

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…

 

Thoughts:

This book starts out light, fun and promising but just after the halfway mark, things start going downhill fast and I have some THOUGHTS.


*SPOILERS AHEAD*


I love that Daphne and her family are so close and open with each other and how they have surprisingly good communication skills. It is so easy in these books to let misunderstandings run amok - trust me that happens in here and I can’t wait to get to THAT - but 99% of the time, everyone who matters understands what’s going on.


As to the ‘what’ that I am referring to… that would be the pseudo relationship between Daphne Bridgerton and Simon, Duke of Hastings.


This book did an amazing job with defining the two main characters. We get a ton of insight into Simon’s past, why he acts like such a rake, what his beliefs are… it’s all laid out quite plainly and I really appreciated that. I love that he has a stutter that he worked so hard to get under control as a child and how that was given such a through-line for the story. We got glimpses of it still from time to time depending on his state of mind.


I liked that he wasn’t the rake that everyone assumed he was and that he is actually a very smart man who seems to know himself quite well. There are obvious underlying issues that he has to come to terms with in relation to how his late father affected him but I was looking forward to how he and - I assumed Daphne - would work through that.


Daphne’s character is both feisty and yet demure and somehow Quinn makes it work for a long time. Her interactions with her family and Simon for the most part are perfection. She’s the type of female character who is ‘not like other girls’ but comes by it naturally as opposed to female characters who are ‘nOt LiKe OtHeR gIrLs’ where the author hits you over the head with it.


The part about Daphne that ultimately makes me pretty much hate her character is her false naivety. I say false because Quinn had to work SO HARD to try and make the reader believe she is ignorant (after straightforwardly saying she actual quite smart) to suit a plot point. Sure, her mother doesn’t give her much details for her wedding night and no one is forthcoming about this information so she is ultimately ignorant of the ways of things between a man and woman of the time BUT Daphne is written to be smart. She can draw conclusions and make up her own mind and be capable.


This brings me to the moment that ruined it all for me. When Quinn decides to change Daphne’s character from smart and capable, to cruel and ignorant.


Throughout the book, Simon states over and over that he does not want to marry and can’t have children. He is willing to DIE because he can’t give these things to Daphne. Regardless of whether or not this decision is due to misplaced resentment towards his late father - he states these opinions freely and often. So when Daphne agrees to marry him in spite of this, Simon is ELATED. We get his inner thoughts when the decision is made and he is so happy that the woman he loves is willing to give up all of her dreams for him and it makes him love her all the more.


Had Daphne known then that his “can’t” is actually a “won’t”, sure you could say that it could be conversation for another time. That he may eventually change his mind. That together they can get to the bottom of why he truly doesn’t want children and maybe work past it together in a healthy manner. With discussion and self-reflection. Maybe THEN Simon would learn that he actually wants children and he only ever didn’t so that he could ruin the family line.


This did not happen. Thanks to the only real instance of miscommunication/misunderstanding.


So now to the point of what sickened me about this story. Daphne’s taking advantage of Simon when he is drunk and half asleep, forcing him into a potential future he never asked for and has been vehemently against, and THEN backtracking her thoughts to try and JUSTIFY the situation. Claiming that she did not understand. That it happened before she realized it. Daphne knew full well what she did. Regardless of the argument of can’t vs won’t and Simon lying. Daphne took advantage of the man. Furthermore, Quinn wrote it so SIMON apologizes to DAPHNE. It’s so messed up.


He had every right to get angry and leave. But the ‘reflection’ that Quinn has him make where he apparently realizes that his anger was actually at HIMSELF for letting his stutter return and be reduced to the helpless child that he used to be… it’s disgusting. Sure he can be angry at himself for that but he most certainly should not apologize for leaving after what Daphne did. Also, I feel it important to note that Daphne doesn’t actually apologize to him. She freezes him out. Goes back to London and waits for him to come to her.


Up until this event in the book, I really was enjoying it and it was quickly making it’s way to possibly even a favourite of the year. I can’t really give it a 1-star rating for this because I enjoyed so many other aspects of this book but it certainly dropped it a few stars as well as making it’s way onto my Most Disappointing Reads. It is also a book I would not recommend. It romanticizes the outcome of what is essentially rape.


Overall it was just very disappointing and I’m surprised I haven’t heard more people talking about how not okay the whole situation is. I loved the idea of the story, I loved the familial dynamics, I loved the characters for the most part… it just got ruined for me.


This book was also the first book covered in my Netflix Made Me Read It series on Youtube. Check it out here.



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