The Duke And I by Julia Quinn
My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars
When I read a book, I want to become involved emotionally. A book that does that is more likely to be highly rated. Such was the case with The Duke and I.
I have a sickness, an infatuation for tortured, dark, conflicted heroes. The happy-go-lucky guys don't capture my imagination nearly so much as their darker counterparts. Fortunately, Simon was tortured enough to keep me happy.
The beginning of this book was brilliantly done. I was already captivated with Simon, the future Duke of Hastings. My heart cried for him. I wanted to see him overcome the obstacles that were unfairly set before him, to become the man he was capable of being. And boy, did he become quite a man.
Imagine my surprise, that for all my affinity for Simon, that the star of this story was Daphne? She started out very mild, sweet (typical Regency heroine), not necessarily standing out. But, by the end of this book, I loved her. She was just the woman that Simon needed. He was what she wanted, and she was going to get her man, and wouldn't settle for less than all of him. She had mettle, and she wasn't afraid to challenge Simon to change the future, and to shake free from the chains of the past, which held him prisoner. Perhaps he never would have found true happiness and joy if Daphne had not hammered (gently and not so gently, at times) at the walls around his heart.
The event that puts a strain on their marriage could be read in different ways. I like that Ms. Quinn put that scene in. It was a brave move on her part. And there is enough ambiguity there to wonder if there was some culpability on Daphne's part. And it turns around some of those ever-present outcries we often get about sexual dynamics in romance.
I liked that Simon had his so-called 'flaw'. I don't tend to care for perfect characters, because I don't enjoy rooting for them nearly so much as the flawed/less-than perfect ones. I loved that Daphne accepted that about him, and thought he was wonderful for overcoming the obstacles he faced, and that she thought he was brilliant. She loved him so much, enough to fight for him, and she did many times. In fact, I'd call Daphne the Knight in Shining Armor of this book. Go, Daphne!
What was underwhelming about this book?
Well, I thought some of the humor aspects were a bit off. I couldn't find the balance between humor and angst. On the plus side, I did like the family dynamics, and the humor they brought to the situation. Those were some of my favorite humorous moments. I liked very much that Daphne's family were useful weapons in her arsenal to win her fair prince. Simon had never felt the loving bonds of family. He was captivated by the Bridgerton family dynamics, good and bad.
I must say that Anthony annoyed the crap out of me. He was a bit of a hypocrit. I think that he forgot that Simon was a man he respected, and that he cared about his best friend. When he saw that Simon and Daphne had an attraction to each other, Simon became his enemy. He refused to believe that Simon could be honorable. I know what you're saying. I realize that Anthony took his responsiblity to protect his sister seriously. But, if Simon could look at the situation from Anthony's vantage point, I would hope that Anthony would try to do the same. I didn't see him doing that. I do have to say that I really admired how well Daphne stood up to her over-protective brothers, especially when they tried to interfere in her marriage. She put her foot down, and she needed to, or that wouldn't even stop, for as long as she was married.
The other thing that bothered me about this book was that at times, it seemed to lapse into a modern voice. I know I shouldn't be so picky, but that's a rather large pet peeve of mine. However, I do have to say that for the most part, Ms. Quinn does the Regency period very well.
I thought this was a good book, and probably my second favorite novel by Julia Quinn, after To Sir Phillip with Love. I don't go for the lighter Regencies that much, but this had enough angst in it to keep me pretty happy. Although I read it for a challenge, and to get it off my tbr pile, where it had been languishing for several years, I ended up reading it very quickly, and I enjoyed it very much.
Overall rating: 4.25/5.0 stars.
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