A photo of a Kindle with the black and white TV version of the book cover on a white table with rose gold glasses and a eucalyptus branch all on a white table. The Kindle is placed on a white journal.

Book Review: The Duke and I (Bridgerton 1)

I know I’m not the only one who ran to a (digital) bookstore after watching Bridgerton on Netflix earlier this year, but as soon as the season ended, I needed to know more about Julia Quinn’s now-famous Regency-era family, so I thought I’d dive straight into the books. For those who don’t know, every book follows the love story of one of the Bridgerton siblings, and The Duke and I, similar to season 1 of the show, focuses on Daphne and Simon. I was excited to see how different the books were, because usually they’re much better than on screen.

Synopsis
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…

My musings
I’m sorry to say that I was disappointed. Where the TV show gives you bits and pieces of everyone’s lives, this book really only follows Daphne and Simon, and without the other siblings (heck, Eloise is barely mentioned) there’s definitely some magic lost. I was even expecting the books to be much steamier than the show because you can be so much more explicit, but I didn’t find that was the case either (and there really wasn’t *that* much sex in it, as far as I remember). The book Simon pales in comparison (uh, no pun intended) to Rejé-Jean Page and there was definitely not enough Violet in these pages.

I’m hoping, if I ever get motivated enough to read the next one, that because I don’t already know what’s going to happen, plot-wise, that I’ll be more into the story and where it’s going, but this one really took me a long time, and I don’t even know what to say about it. It was fine, but I don’t feel the need to continue. Plus, there’s still that sexual assault scene that everyone’s talking about from the show… it shows up here, too.

Maybe if I was a more avid reader of historical romance I would have been more drawn to it, but it was…fine.

3 STARS

Green cover with a silk-gloved hand holding up a notecard that says The Duke and I

“Simon caught her gaze, his eyes burning hot and intense into hers. A warning bell sounded in his mind. He wanted her. He wanted her so desperately he was straining against his clothing, but he could never, ever so much as touch her. Because to do so would be to shatter every last one of her dreams, and rake or not, Simon wasn’t certain he could live with himself if he did that.”—Julia QuinnThe Duke and I

Thank you to Shayna Douglas on Unsplash for the featured photo.

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