Cute, Quinn is a better writer than most. She structures her stories in a way that reminds me of Joanna Lindsey. This is a Bridgerton story.
Daphne meets her brother's old friend from Eton, when he returns from years of travel abroad to assume his title, now that his father is dead. The young Duke is a man who has overcome a childhood stutter that caused his father, the old Duke, to cast off his imperfect heir, but who hasn't yet overcome the bitterness of that rejection, or a seething hatred of his perfectionist father. His hatred may poison his future with Daphne, unless she can convince him that the Duke is still haunting his son by making him miserable, even from the grave.
The only thing I don't like about this sort of novel is the "force the dishonored female to marry the man she was caught alone with will she or nil she" sort of high-handedness. For some reason, Quinn seems particularly fond of that sort of thing (using it in several novels, including this one), and it shows a lack in her writing that she can't think of another resolution than that old hackneyed romance cliche. Shotgun weddings are so passe!
While not as steamy as I tend to prefer my historical romances, THE DUKE AND I stands out from the crowd with its enviably witty dialogue and memorable characters. The banter between Mrs. Bridgerton and the Bridgerton siblings nearly had me bursting out in laughter at inopportune moments. Consequently, I enjoyed Simon and Daphne as a couple, and thought that their relationship was well-played. I did want more heat though! (Perhaps I am more dirty-minded than the norm)
That said, I look forward to reading more from Julia Quinn. She has a way of creating crush-worthy characters that color up an otherwise ordinary historical romance world.
This book had some very funny moments, and I did enjoy reading it. The romance wasn't quite my speed...there's no sex until after marriage! Not even any good "hot & heavy" moments! Daphne tended to annoy me a bit because she was so completely clueless about her body and how children are conceived. There was also a bit of nonsense about being pitied because you don't have children. Ha! (Pity me as I sip my umbrella drink and relax.) So I guess if you're not into premarital sex, like tame romance books, and don't mind a sheltered heroine you'll dig this book. I however like unrepentant rakes, hot lovin', and a smart heroine!
I never thought that I could have a whole book spoiled for me by one action, but this book proved that I could. What's so irritating about this is that I was enjoying the book. I liked the character's amusing dialogue and the friendship the developed.
Things did start to go a bit downhill for me when Daphne chases Simon down at the duel. I don't get the most optimistic feeling when I see someone willing to die rather than marry. I know it wasn't Daphne in particular, but when the hero has so much baggage that death is preferable to his other options I know the road ahead is not going to be smooth. I started to get nervous about how something with that weight would be handled by the author. She has skill but in all the books I've read by her they all seemed very light and not really serious at all. I was willing to go along for the ride though.
In some ways I wish I had stopped reading half way through and never got such a bad taste in my mouth. I know that Simon lied by omission in letting Daphne assume he wouldn't have kids because he couldn't have them. But who can really blame him? He was ashamed of how he was when he was a kid. If he would have said he just plain wouldn't have kids she would have demanded to know why and he would have had to explain all his humiliation. Who would willingly do that? She had to maneuver him into marrying her in the first place. He would have rather died in the duel than marry her and be put in that situation! She was even the one that initiated the situation that led to them having to marry! She seems to forget it was all her idea toward the end.
I just can't help but think that the whole conflict in this book was manufactured by Daphne. The way the book was written seems to make Simon seem like the bad guy when what she did to him was unforgivable. I was ready for Simon to find someone new after that. I can't believe he came back and actually apologized to her. She tried to take a baby from him by force! I'm sorry I know he was into it, but he was drunk and didn't realized she wouldn't let him pull away at the end. When he realized he started struggling. That right there is force. If a man had done that to a girl there would have been a lot more people upset by it.
I know that Daphne made a token statement about being okay with him not wanting kids if it was for the right reason, but I doubt that. She was consumed by the thought of children like she wouldn't have been complete without them. Besides, she may not have agreed with his reasons, but who is she to try and say he doesn't have a right to feel that way?
I don't know if I'll read anymore of her. I've read her other Bridgerton books (and decided to finally read the 1st one) and I thought most of them were ok, but this one really disturbed me. I don't know if I want to risk feeling like that again. I read to watch two people fall in love, not to watch someone try to force her husband to impregnate her.
This is the book that got me into Julia Quinn and the Bridgerton series, so I am forever thankful for it. The Duke and I was definitely one of my favorites of the 8.