historical fiction · romance

New Release Book Review: The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

Title: The Duke and I

Author: Julia Quinn

Publisher: Avon GB – HarperCollins Books Australia

Pages: 464

Genres:  Fiction, Historical, Romance

RRP: $22.99

Rating: 4 stars

A #1 New York Times Bestseller 

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn comes the story of Daphne Bridgerton, in the first of her beloved Regency-set novels featuring the charming, powerful Bridgerton family, now a series created by Shondaland for Netflix.

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…

This novel includes the 2nd epilogue, a peek at the story after the story.

Review:

Originally published in 2000, The Duke and I is the pinnacle series opener to Julia Quinn’s enduring Bridgeton series. A Regency historical romance containing all the typical hallmarks of era, The Duke and I is an entertaining novel with plenty of heart.

Regency London is vividly brought to life in The Duke and I, highlighting the social codes, common courtesies, moral standards and expected behaviour protocols of this strict time period. We meet Daphne Bridgeton, a young woman who has come of age and is seeking a husband. Daphne is one of eight children of the highly regarded Bridgerton family. Daphne is a much-loved member of the society circles in which she operates, she has many friends and connections but she has shown little interest in playing games with her gentleman suitors. But time is running out for Daphne. Daphne must secure a husband soon, despite her best efforts. On the other hand, Simon Basset does not care to take any woman’s hand in marriage. Simon has resolved to stay far away from the high society circuit and the young women that frequent these looking for a love match. Damaged by a difficult childhood and imposing father, Simon does not want history to repeat itself. But Simon’s decision to avoid marriage and fatherhood is cast aside when he is reacquainted with Daphne, his best friend’s sister. In a plot to avoid an unsuitable love match, Daphne teams up with Simon. For Simon this deal works to his advantage, as it deters all the young women and their mothers vying for his affection. It seems like the perfect plan, but Daphne and Simon soon realise that they cannot ignore their beating hearts.

The Duke and I has been recommended to me many times over, since I first encountered recommendations for this book over 20 years ago. As I am not a fan of Regency romance and Georgette Heyer, I think I chose to avoid this book and series. Like many others around the world, The Duke and I recently came to my attention via the Netflix series which is inspired by this popular book series. Despite some initial trepidation, I enjoyed the escape The Duke and I offered me from everyday life. Julia Quinn’s book proved to be an undemanding page turner.

Quinn does quite a good job in her world building, recreating Regency-era London for the reader to sit back and enjoy. It was nice to step back in time to this era, which was full of rules, standards, expectations, plots, decisions, boundaries and moral codes. Quinn handles this aspect of her novel well, bringing to life the scandalous world of high society parties, balls, gatherings, formalities and social occasions. We are privy to the plots, deeds, gossip and innuendo of this time, which is heightened via the anonymous voice of the formidable Lady Whistledown. I did enjoy Whistledown’s musings and I looked forward to her commentary during her various narrative intervals dotted in The Duke and I.

Daphne is a naïve and wholesome young woman, a typical female figure of the era. I did warm to Daphne very quickly and I was keen to see this sweet character find her happy ever after. Daphne’s road to love and marriage was an entertaining journey to follow, full of triumphs and tragedies. It was nice to be acquainted with Daphne’s family and I’m sure the wider Bridgeton clan will be just as interesting in future books of this well received series. I especially have a soft spot for Daphne’s brother Anthony (thanks to the series) and I am keen to follow this philandering Duke on his pathway to future happiness.

A good portion of The Duke and I follows the charming but also complicated male lead of this tale, Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings. There were times when I got a strong Mr Darcy vibe from him, but there were other issues at the core of the character that set him apart from Jane Austen’s famous leading man. Simon’s background was quite fascinating to uncover and sad in some respects. I appreciated seeing Simon eventually work to overcome his thoughts, fears, concerns and anxieties in relation to marriage.

Despite the predictable moments and an uncomfortable scene, The Duke and I proved to be better than what I expected. I consumed this one fairly quickly, which came as quite a shock as I generally do not enjoy Regency era romance. The Duke and I is a salacious, wicked and mellow read, that I enjoyed over a couple of evenings.

The Duke and I by Julia was published by Avon – US. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Duke and I, Julia Quinn, visit here.

3 thoughts on “New Release Book Review: The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

      1. You’re very welcome! It was ‘strongly’ recommended to me by another blogger and I’m glad she did.. Have you read any of the others? I still need to.

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