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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Book Review: The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

The Duke and I (Bridgertons #1) by Julia Quinn
Genre: Adult Fiction (Historcal Romance)
Date Published:  January 5, 2000
Publisher: Avon

The Duke and I is a romance set in the Regency era.

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...

The Duke and I is the first book in the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn. This was a cute and charming story, and I loved every minute of it... aside from one part. That part alone is responsible for the three star rating... and maybe I should have rated it lower, because that part really ruined my enjoyment of their story. I'd seen the series on TV before reading the book, and I thought surely that's not really how the book played out. I figured they just added it because it's TV, and they always add stupid stuff, but no. It was in the book too. There were any number of ways that moment could have gone with the same result. It made me not like Daphne at all. No means no Daphne. No means no!

I enjoyed Simon. Poor guy has a lot of baggage, but he really came a long way on so many levels. With that being said, their relationship... once they start to sort of really have one is full of steam and chemistry, but there's also a big lie on Simon's end which leads to the whole Daphne ordeal. You need trust and respect in relationships. This one has neither. So, it makes me wonder.. how can a relationship like this really have a happy ending? I don't think it would. You don't see the supporting characters as much in the book as you do in the TV series, so I missed them a little, but I know I'll see more as I read the rest of the series. Yes, I'll probably read the rest of the series, because I want to know what happens in everyone else's stories, but I'll be reading them through the library rather than buying them.

The birth of Simon Arthur Henry Fitzranulph Basset, Earl Clyvedon, was met with great celebration. Church bells rang for hours, champagne flowed freely through the gargantuan castle that the newborn would call home, and the entire village of Clyvedon quit work to partake of the feast and holiday ordered by the young earl’s father.

This, the baker said to the blacksmith, was no ordinary baby.

For Simon Arthur Henry Fitzranulph Basset would not spend his life as Earl Clyvedon. That was a mere courtesy title. Simon Arthur Henry Fitzranulph Basset — the baby who possessed more names than any baby could possibly need — was the heir to one of England’s oldest and richest dukedoms. And his father, the ninth Duke of Hastings, had waited years for this moment.

As he stood in the hall outside his wife’s confinement room, cradling the squalling infant, the duke’s heart burst with pride. Already several years past forty, he had watched his cronies — dukes and earls, all — beget heir after heir. Some had had to suffer through a few daughters before siring a precious son, but in the end, they’d all been assured that their lines would continue, that their blood would pass forward into the next generation of England’s elite.

But not the Duke of Hastings. Though his wife had managed to conceive five times in the fifteen years of their marriage, only twice had she carried to full term, and both of those infants had been stillborn. After the fifth pregnancy, which had ended with a bloody miscarriage in the fifth month, surgeons and physicians alike had warned their graces that they absolutely must not make another attempt to have a child. The duchess’s very life was in danger. She was too frail, too weak, and perhaps, they said gently, too old. The duke was simply going to have to reconcile himself to the fact that the dukedom would pass out of the Basset family.

But the duchess, God bless her, knew her role in life, and after a six-month recuperative period, she opened the connecting door between their bedrooms, and the duke once again commenced his quest for a son.

Five months later, the duchess informed the duke that she had conceived. The duke’s immediate elation was tempered by his grim determination that nothing —absolutely nothing— would cause this pregnancy to go awry. The duchess was confined to her bed the minute it was realized that she’d missed her monthly courses. A physician was brought in to visit her every day, and halfway through the pregnancy, the duke located the most respected doctor in London and paid him a king’s ransom to temporarily abandon his practice and take up residence at Clyvedon Castle.

The duke was taking no chances this time. He would have a son, and the dukedom would remain in Basset hands.

The duchess experienced pains a month early, and pillows were tucked under her hips. Gravity might keep the babe inside, Dr. Stubbs explained. The duke thought that a sound argument, and, when the doctor had retired for the evening, placed yet another pillow under his wife, raising her to a twenty degree angle. She remained that way for a month.

And then finally, the moment of truth arrived. The household prayed for the duke, who so wanted an heir, and a few remembered to pray for the duchess, who had grown thin and frail even as her belly had grown round and wide. They tried not to be too hopeful — after all, the duchess had already delivered and buried two babes. And even if she did manage to safely deliver a child, it could be, well, a girl.

As the duchess’s screams grew louder and more frequent, the duke shoved his way into her chamber, ignoring the protests of the doctor, the midwife, and her grace’s maid. It was a bloody mess, but the duke was determined to be present when the babe’s sex was revealed. The head appeared, then the shoulders.

All leaned forward to watch as the duchess strained and pushed, and then…

And then the duke knew that there was a God, and He smiled on the Bassets. He allowed the midwife one minute to clean the babe, then took the little boy into his arms and marched into the great hall to show him off.

“I have a son!” he boomed. “A perfect little son!”

And while the servants cheered and wept with relief, the duke looked down upon the tiny little earl and said, “You are perfect. You are a Basset. You are mine.”

The duke wanted to take the boy outside to prove to everyone that he had finally sired a healthy male child, but there was a slight chill in the early April air, so he allowed the midwife to take the babe back to his mother. The duke mounted one of his prized geldings and rode off to celebrate, shouting his good fortune to all who would listen.Meanwhile, the duchess, who had been bleeding steadily since the birth, slipped into unconsciousness, and then finally just slipped away.

Check out my review of other books by this author.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn loves to dispel the myth that smart women don't read (or write) romance, and and if you watch reruns of the game show The Weakest Link you might just catch her winning the $79,000 jackpot. She displayed a decided lack of knowledge about baseball, country music, and plush toys, but she is proud to say that she aced all things British and literary, answered all of her history and geography questions correctly, and knew that there was a Da Vinci long before there was a code.

A graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges, Ms. Quinn is one of only sixteen members of Romance Writers of America’s Hall of Fame. Her books have been translated into 32 languages, and she lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest.

The Bridgertons, her popular series of historical romance, is currently in production by Shondaland as a Netflix original series starring Julie Andrews, Phoebe Dynevor, and RĂ©ge-Jean Page.

To learn more about Julia Quinn and her books, visit her website. You can also find her on GoodreadsFacebookInstagramBookBub, and Pinterest.

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