Miss Daphne Bridgerton is one of the oversized Bridgerton brood (there are eight of them in total). She is the eldest daughter and her mother despairs that she isn’t really attracting promising suitors. Not that it’s all that easy with three overprotective elder brothers who can scare off anyone but the staunchest at heart, or the fact that most male members of the ton regard her as a very good sport, but certainly not an exciting marriage prospect. So when she runs into her brother Anthony’s friend Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, recently back from the continent, with the reputation of quite the rake, they strike up a deal. He wants the marriage-minded mamas to stop thrusting their eligible young daughters into his path, and she wants to appear more attractive to society in general. If she’s courted by a duke, more men will take notice and she’s likely to find a suitable mate.
Simon, due to complicated childhood issues and a desire to thwart his now dead father, is determined never to marry or sire children. Daphne wants nothing more than to get married and be a mother. Their courtship is supposed to be for show only, and Simon keeps telling himself that compromising his best friend’s sister would be a terrible idea. When they are nonetheless caught in a rather heated embrace by the overprotective Anthony, it seems as if Simon might choose death by duel rather than actually marry Daphne. She manages to change his mind, reconciling herself to a life without children. When she discovers the reasons behind his reluctance to marry her and father children, Daphne becomes determined to change his mind once more. She doesn’t want to give up her dreams of motherhood and knows Simon would make a wonderful father.
In my memory, The Duke and I was the book that made me re-discover romance as a genre. Avon had the book available to read in its entirety on their website and I read it over the course of one day. This was before e-books were a big thing, nowadays, they just would have released the book for free for a limited time. Looking in my big nerdy notebook where I obsessively note down everything I’ve read since 2007, however, it’s Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible that holds that honour. The Duke and I was the fifth of recommened romances I read in 2008, but while it wasn’t the very first, it certainly spurred my love of romances a lot, because it introduced me to the Bridgertons, one of the greatest families I can think of from any genre.
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