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The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

Updated: Jul 7, 2021

The first novel in Julia Quinn's worldwide best-selling Bridgerton novels, now a series created by Shonda Rhimes for Netflix. This is the story of Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke: welcome to the ballrooms of Regency London.....

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....

My very first book of 2021 is a pretty big departure from my standard fare.

And it’s all Chris Van Dusen’s fault.

At three o’ clock in the morning on the first day of 2021, I was neither fast asleep nor partying my socks off. Instead, I sat in a dark room – for the atmosphere of course - hunched over a book. Well, an e-book. A regency romance of all things.

Here’s how it all started.

A bright and colourful Netflix trailer filled with fireworks, frothy dresses and bearded men, caught my attention sometime in late October. Or early November. Or late November. Whenever. Naturally, I clicked the add to my list button. But that was as far as I thought about Bridgerton – the show that anyone who is anyone has watched – because I have a lot of unwatched shows on my Netflix list.

I watched the Bridgerton trend on social media and my timeline get flooded with pictures of Regé-Jean Page, but I stood firm against the hype and didn’t watch the series. I had other things to do. Until one late December evening – and I still don’t know why – at ten o’ clock, my friend and I decided to watch just one episode of the show. We went to bed at six forty the next morning. She had to be at work by eight o’clock and I had to meet a deadline. We didn’t care – it was worth it.

There was just one problem.

Well, it wasn’t really a problem– more of a niggle; a little blinking light at the back of my head that was small and easily dismissed, but, as experience has taught me, would not go away until I dealt with it. You see, I have a problem; I absolutely cannot watch a film or series based on a book without afterwards going to read said book.

It’s a compulsion.

Bridgerton, of course, is based on a series of regency romances written by Julia Quinn about a family with eight children, named in alphabetical order. I know this because back in my teenagehood, I used to like a good regency romance. They were what I read in between other books – a sort of palette cleanser. I had come across Julia Quinn and the Bridgerton series before, although I’m not sure I ever read any of them but that’s beside the point.

My mission was clear - I had to read The Duke and I.

And so, I found myself on the eve of a new year, buying a Kindle edition of The Duke and I for £0.99 - what a steal! - and promptly immersing myself in the story of Daphne Bridgerton, Simon Bassett - the Duke of Hastings - and their inexorable drift from sham courtship to true love.

This book was written back in 2000 and I feel a little bad comparing it to what Chris Van Dusen has done with it for television in 2020, but it actually stands up to the test of time and Netflix. Of course, the story isn’t nearly as complex or nuanced as the series, which deals with issues of race, sexuality, gender roles and a lot of other topical issues, but it is not supposed to be. A regency romance filled with racism, class warfare, police brutality and all the other issues that arise in real life, would not be a regency romance.

This is very simply a story about a woman falling in love with a man.

Toss in a sprinkle of attraction, a dash of intrigue and a splotch of semen on the bedclothes and you have what is a great read for its genre.

As someone who is eminently practical about love, many splendoured thing though it may be, I was happy to suspend my disbelief and settle in for a tale whose ending I already knew – after all, what’s a regency romance without a happy ending?


A good read to while away a couple of hours.

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