About the book
The Duke and I is the first book in the Bridgerton series, although it follows Daphne and not Anthony, the eldest as I first thought it would do. The Bridgerton siblings are all named in alphabetical order: Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory and Hyacinth. The Duke and I was published by Piatkus on 8th June 2008 and the book is 352 pages long.
Daphne Bridgerton has already had two seasons in London but still hasn't found herself a husband. Although she would rather have a love match like her own mother, Daphne has come to accept that the best she can hope for is to at least get on well and like her husband, which is more than can be said for some marriages in the ton. The trouble is, no one really sees her in a romantic light, they all see her only as a friend.
Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, had a terrible childhood and an awful relationship with his father. All his father ever wanted was a perfect heir, a replica of himself but when Simon was obviously troubled and never spoke, he practically disowned his only son. Simon had a stutter as a child, one of the main reasons for the bad relationship with his father, and tried his very hardest to be everything that his father had wanted him to be. Rather than be treated badly, Simon headed off to travel the world but when he returned to London as the new Duke, he wasn't expecting such troubles. Every single mother with a daughter of a marrying age is determined to make their impressions on Simon.
Daphne also doesn't want her mother bothering her anymore to get married and when she and Simon strike up a friendship, they devise a plan to fool everyone by pretending he is interested in her. Daphne will get a lot more male attention and hopefully a husband and Simon will get his peace and quiet back. The problem is Daphne's older brother Anthony. He knows what a rake that Simon has been in the past and he wants him nowhere near his little sister, whether they are pretending or not.
What I thought
What I love about Julia Quinn's book is that she always manages to make them different from any of the others. It never seems like something I have read before which has been the case with some other authors in the past. Daphne and Simon didn't get along at all to begin with and I really enjoyed watching their friendship blossom and grow. It was a very creative idea for the pair to get together to try to fool to ton so they both got what they thought they wanted
I think out of all of the books in this series, Simon is the male character that I have felt the most sorry for. His father was truly horrible towards him and I could totally understand why he didn't want to ever get married or have children. He was too scared that he would be the same as his father or they would have the same problems as he did as a child. Simon instantly feels desire for Daphne when he sees her the first time but when he finds out who she is, his feelings change. He knows he can never have her because he is best friends with her eldest brother, Anthony. I don't think he was the most intelligent hero because with his idea to pretend that he and Daphne are involved, he put himself in a bad position. He lusted after Daphne from the start so I'm not sure how he thought he was going to cope with spending a lot of time with her.
Daphne was also a welcome change for a heroine. Unlike Simon, she didn't feel anything for him when they first met. She actually quite disliked him to begin with and she wasn't afraid to tell him how she felt. Daphne knew exactly what she wanted and she wasn't afraid to go for it once she had figured it out. Throughout the story, she desperately tried to break Simon down when it came to talking about his past and why he believed certain things but it took her a long time and effort. The thing that I liked most about Daphne was how brave she was. Many women in the ton seemed to be very 'girly' and didn't have their own voice. She knows that she cannot let Simon and her brother duel so she enlists the help of brother Colin and charges off on a horse to save the man she loves. More women in these kind of books should have her bravery.
One of the things that I really like about all of Quinn's books is that she doesn't solely concentrate on the two main characters. The Bridgerton family is quite large and all of the members are supposed to be utterly devoted to each other and the way the author brings in different family members each time really makes me believe it. While you get the feeling that they are really love each other, they are like any other family that bicker and fight from time to time and this brings in some humour every time.
The humour and romance in this book is perfectly mixed. While Simon and Daphne's relationship evolves quite slowly, there is always something happening in the background to keep you entertained. One you read this book, you will be hooked and dying to read the rest of the series. A fantastic introduction to the Bridgerton family.