Relentlessly pursued by match-making mamas and their charges, Simon Bassett, the handsome Duke of Hastings, has grown tired of the societal chase. Tired too is the lovely Daphne Bridgerton, whose matrimonially minded mother is set on finding her daughter the perfect husband. Neither Simon nor Daphne is happy with this annoying state of affairs and both would give anything for a little peace and quiet. Their mutual wish for a respite from the ton's marriage mart leads to a pretend engagement--a scheme that is threatened with exposure by Daphne's suspicious older brother, who happens to know Simon's way with women very well. The two never anticipated that a mutual attraction would lead to the very thing they set out to avoid--a wedding. But Simon fears that his painful past may keep him from being able to truly love anyone. And though Daphne cares for him deeply, she won't settle for anything less than his heart.After enjoying Quinn's The Secret Diaries on Miss Miranda Cheever and finding myself (much as I hate to say it about Bujold) struggling with The Sharing Knife: Legacy, I decided to read another Julia Quinn novel for a break. I chose this one as it is the first in the author's eight-book Brigerton series and I am, unfortunately for my own peace of mind and bank balance, one of those anal people who has to read a series in order.
Again, this was a fun read; not particularly challenging, but enjoyable, light and charming in tone and perfect for a break from more serious books.
I found Daphne a nice blend - she wants a husband and she wants children; she embraces those goals of genteel society and desires them without being totally caught up in the social whirl without another thought in her head. Her bargain with Simon seems at least partially sensible - it certainly works in that she suddenly has plenty of suitors - but at the same time she's setting herself up for trouble getting close to Simon knowing how easily she could fall in love with this man who, scarred by his past, is determined not to marry.
In my Julia Quinn reading, I've hit two out of two - in both cases the hero and heroine have been caught in a compromising situation and had to get married. I hope she uses other plot devices as well, but it has worked out well in both these cases.
Love isn't Daphne and Simon's problem. They have that - whether Simon is ready to admit it or not. Their problems stem from Simon's issues about childhood and his dead father and he has to get over that before they can have a happy ending. I liked that.
I did belive in their happy ending, although Simon's turnaround on their main issue was quite quick. I can look at it and justify it, but I just didn't automatically buy into it. All the same, that's a minor quibble.
I found Violet's bumbling attempts (and eventual failure) to explain the "marital act" to Daphne to be very cute, and the scene it led to between Simon and Daphne on their wedding night was hysterical. It also made Daphne's enormous sense of betrayal a little later on to be perfectly believable and reasonable.
While Quinn is true to her genre and this book is primarily about Daphne and Simon and their road to love, it also introduces the Brigerton family matriach, Violet, and her eight, alphabetically named children (which gives away the fact that while Daphne as the eldest daughter marries first, she is in fact the fourth child). I enjoyed meeting them all, especially overly-wise 10-year-old Hyacinth, and I am going to be reading all their books. I'll be saving up the Quinn books for whenever I need a "book break".
The Duke and I