The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
This is one of those Standard Romance Novels, the kind of thing that everybody tells you to read when you first start reading romance because it DEFIES AND YET DEFINES THE GENRE!!!1 or something. So I was expecting a lot when I went in, and I gotta say, for the first several chapters, I didn’t get it.
It’s probably not fair to compare any other historical romance writer to Loretta Chase, who is basically a goddess and we should all worship at her sexy altar, but hey, I had been hearing that this was The Book to End All Books. Can you blame me? While Lord of Scoundrels or The Last Hellion or Mr. Impossible grabbed me from the very first paragraph on the very first page, The Duke and I did not. The characters felt a little boring, the humor fell a little flat, and I was just not that interested. I felt that way for about the first third.
Now that I’ve finished it, I have revised my opinion. But first! TO THE PLOT!
Daphne Bridgerton has brown hair and brown eyes and seven siblings, and Simon Basset is Duke of Hastings and is Very Intense, with a Troubled Past. He has Blue Eyes Most Icy. This is all you need to know, because since they’re the hero and heroine you know they’re going to get married and bone, and because Hastings is SO VERY, VERY INTENSE, there is going to be Angst about his Troubled Past. I was all, “I read this book, back when it was called Lord of Scoundrels and Simon Basset ain’t got NOTHING on Sebastian Dain, kay gurl?” (my internal monologue is 13, by the way).
So here is the part where I tell you about the Changing Moment that totally sold me on this book. Uh, I don’t know what it was. There was a duel, that was pretty cool, and as Daphne and Simon began to get closer, I got a lot more interested. Her siblings seemed more like individual people instead of just a pile of brothers, and her mother is genuinely hilarious. By the time we got to the first sex scene (and it’s a good one), I was pretty sold.
I enjoyed this book a lot, and I would say that it is better than most historical romances. Daphne and Simon’s romance was very sweet and felt very heart … uh, felt, and once the pace picked up I couldn’t put it down.
AND YET! I am not chomping at the bit to finish the Bridgerton series, unlike after I read my first Chase or James and I went out and bought ALL OF THEM. For me, the story never ~*~transcended~*~ into a ~*~higher level~*~ of ~*~romance~*~.
Do I think this is The Book to End All Books? No. But it’s a great historical romance and I would definitely recommend it. If I hadn’t gone in with such high expectations, I would have gotten more out of it, I think, but it was a good, solid read.
WARNING: I know a fair bit of my readers are childfree, so I should warn you that pregnancy is a pretty big theme in this story. If you can’t even deal with noxious baby epilogues, then this might not be the book for you.