Review: The Duke and I by Julia QuinnThe Duke and I by Julia Quinn
Series: The Bridgertons #1
Published by Avon on January 1, 2000
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Romance
Pages: 371
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

Can there be any greater challenge to London's Ambitious Mamas than an unmarried duke?
— Lady Whistledown's Society Papers, April 1813

By all accounts, Simon Basset is on the verge of proposing to his best friend's sister, the lovely—and almost-on-the-shelf—Daphne Bridgerton. But the two of them know the truth—it's all an elaborate plan to keep Simon free from marriage-minded society mothers. And as for Daphne, surely she will attract some worthy suitors now that it seems a duke has declared her desirable.

But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, it's hard to remember that their courtship is a complete sham. Maybe it's his devilish smile, certainly it's the way his eyes seem to burn every time he looks at her... but somehow Daphne is falling for the dashing duke... for real! And now she must do the impossible and convince the handsome rogue that their clever little scheme deserves a slight alteration, and that nothing makes quite as much sense as falling in love...

A lot of my GR buddies love this book, and a few have recommended it to me. So I ordered it, and up until a certain part in the end, I really was enjoying it.

I won’t feel bad about the spoilers in here, because this is an older book, and a ton of people have read it.

I liked Daphne, and I really liked Daphne and Simon’s interactions, witty reparte, banter. all of the above. Obviously they were meant for each other, and not in the sickeningly sweet sort of way. They were fun to watch together.

I hated Simon’s father. Hated him so much. What a bastard. Simon at one point said his father wanted an heir, not a son. So well put.
The two of them decided to fake an interest in each other so that all the match-making mamas would leave Simon alone, and Daphne could have better prospects, because with a handsome duke interested in her, suddenly every man finds her lovely. At one point, Daphne has 6 suitors (7 if you count Simon) in one room, and one is reciting poetry (bad poetry) from one knee for her! Too funny, their plan was actually working!

But around 200 pages in or so, it all began to lose some of its appeal. Daphne is bossy…no problem there, I’m bossy, totally works for me. But she becomes more arrogant than bossy at one point, and this is right around the part where Daphne’s brother catches Simon with his mouth on Daphne’s breast. He says “Marry my sister or else!” or something as cliched. Simon, who we all have known since moment one, is never going to marry. Simon tells Daphne that, Anthony and Benedick (her brothers) tell Daphne that. But still Daphne feels (even though Simon never claimed any feelings of any sort towards her) that Simon cares enough for her to marry her instead of duel with Anthony. Wrong, Simon would never raise a pistol at his friend Anthony, so he goes in with the assumption that he will die. Daphne says “I-I’ve always known that I wasn’t the sort of woman men dreamed of, but I never thought anyone would prefer death to marriage with me.”
Wow, that line made me want Simon to explain things to her. He says “If it could be anyone it would be you.” which was heartbreaking, but not enough.

So, Daphne gets her other brother Colin to take her to the duel so she can scam the duke into marriage-she tells him people saw them in a compromising position and he just has to marry her so she won’t be labeled damaged goods. I didn’t buy it. yes some folks saw them leave together but it was still manipulating. That is where I began to dislike Daphne. She manipulated him into marriage trying to justify that he might not want to live, but he might live to save her. It made no sense to me. She pressured him for marriage, got it, and they were actually happy for a while, but to me it felt hollow.

Daphne found out from the housekeeper what kind of childhood Simon really had, and about his awful father who berated him, then declared him dead to any who would listen, all because Simon stuttered as a boy.

Daphne finally understood that when Simon said he couldn’t have children, he didn’t mean he couldn’t father them, but rather that he could never be a father…he wouldn’t have children. Her dream of a family was dead.

What bugs me here are 2 things:
1. She went in knowing no children would result
2. When Simon was drunk and aroused and she wouldn’t let him pull out.

That sobered him up pretty quickly. That whole scene was a mess-she was wrong. Absolutely manipulative and wrong. Simon was absolutely right to be furious. That drunken scene was sweet and touching and funny and then…that. I was so angry because Daphne then rationalized to herself that it’s not like she went in thinking “I’m going to force him to come inside me.” She did. She said she felt powerful and loved it.

And for her to not explain to her family that he was angry because she did something, to let them think Simon was a prick for his boorish behavior, really made me lose a lot of respect for both Daphne and Julia Quinn.

Simon was the one who had to apologize-yes he lied, I was mad he never clarified, but good Lord…Daphne just infuriated me.

So, the book was good til Daphne became a master manipulator. For her to give Simon ultimatums about no sex until you say we can have children was selfish and pretty messed up of her.

The ending was sweet, but not sweet enough for me to forgive the mess Daphne made of Simon’s/their life/future.