The Duke and I, by Julia Quinn

>> Thursday, August 05, 2004

Having just finished Julia Quinn's When He Was Wicked, I got a little confused by how the timing of that one fit in with both To Sir Philip With Love and Romancing Mister Bridgerton. Some events in those 3 books happened at the same time, and since Sir Philip I'd read about a year ago, and RMB a year before that, I got a little confused.

So I decided to start rereading the entire series from the beginning, starting, of course, with The Duke and I. This is one of my favourite series, and Quinn is one of my favourite authors, so it wasn't much of a hardship, really ;-)

Simon Basset, the irresistible Duke of Hastings, has hatched a plan to keep himself free from the town's marriage-minded society mothers. He pretends to be engaged to the lovely Daphne Bridgerton. After all, it isn't as if the brooding rogue has any real plans to marry--though there is something about the alluring Miss Bridgerton that sets Simon's heart beating a bit faster. And as for Daphne, surely the clever debutante will attract some very worthy suitors now that is seems a duke has declared her desirable.

But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, she soon forgets that their courtship is a complete sham. And now she has to do the impossible and keep herself from losing her heart and soul completely to the handsome hell-raiser who has sworn off marriage forever!
My memories of The Duke and I were pretty positive, but I vaguely remembered that there was something there that had kept me from completely enjoying it, something that had left a bad taste in my mouth. I couldn't remember exactly what that was (I'd read this book when it came out, in the year 2000, and hadn't reread it since). Well, now that I've finished it, I know what it was that bothered me. It still bothered me this time, but I was mostly ok with the author's treatment of it, so my grade for the book would be a B+.

So, what was it that had me so upset? Well, the main conflict of the story, once Daphne and Simon are married, is that Simon refuses to have children, to spite his father, in a way. So, he basically pulls out every time they make love. Once Daphne realizes that it's not that he can't have children, as he said to her, but that he won't have them, these two are at odds, and there is a scene in which Daphne starts making love to a sleepy, still half-drunk Simon and refuses to let him withdraw (she's on top).

That action of hers I found pretty unforgivable. It's probably just a hot button of mine, but forcing someone to have a child when he or she doesn't want to, seems to me beyond the pale. Ok, you can think maybe the person should have a child, he or she will actually like it when they do, that it's the best for them, that their reasons for not wanting a baby are stupid (and Simon's definitely are... more later), but it's their decision. The thought of having somone take away that decision from me and forcing me to become a mother and assume a responsibility I don't want, and that will be present in my life forever, is a real nightmare to me.

While (as you've probably deduced by now), that scene still hit me as hard as it did the first time, this time I was able to appreciate that there was much more to the book than that, and that the treatment given to this episode by Quinn was actually fine, so even this scene worked for me this time.

Now that I've got that out of the way, on to the book.

My favourite part of the book was the first one, when Daphne and Simon are conducting their unorthodox faux courtship under the nervous supervision of Daphne's brothers. I loved their chemistry and even their interactions with the meddling Bridgertons, which were often LOL funny. It was so, so obvious to anyone, that this fake engagement scheme was going to end in exactly the way that it ended. And I think, deep down, both Simon and Daphne knew it.

Simon was a darling and I especially liked the way he treated Daphne from the beginning. However, his "issues" felt a bit idiotic to me. I mean, yes, he had more than enough reasons to hate his father, and I happen to think it's perfectly healthy that he did. I hate it that characters in romance novels so often forgive really horrid behaviour from family just because they're family, and I appreciated that Simon didn't come to some stupid, contrived love for his father by the end of the book. Still, his reaction, deciding to punish his father, even in death, by not having a kid, seemed extreme. I would have been fine with his not wanting a child for whatever reasons (I'm not planning to have children myself), but this particular reason was just cutting off his nose to spite his face.

Daphne was actually refreshing. Here's a heroine, at last, who happens to be what would be considered typical marriage mart material. She's attending the Season because she wants to get married and have children. Simple, and yet I've read very, very few heroines who are like that. I like both kinds, but the rareness of Daphne's aspirations made me appreciate her more. Oh, and she's really, really innocent. She truly has no idea of what will happen during her wedding night, which isn't all that usual either, these days, and made for some truly funny scenes.

The book is also an introduction to the Bridgerton family, especially the first part, and I thought Quinn did a good job of presenting the characters, with their different personalities, especially the eldest three brothers. I liked that these are already the people they are in the following books.

Last, but not least, no suspense subplot, yay! ;-)


Post a Comment

Blog template by

Back to TOP