The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
Audiobook narrated by Rosalyn Landor

Publisher: Print – Avon, Recorded Books (Audio Publisher)
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

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 it 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!

I can’t believe I’m the lucky duck who gets to review The Duke and I. For sure I thought, someone at some time must have already reviewed this book for LASR, but guess what? No one has! I can’t believe it! With the resounding success of the Netflix series, Bridgerton, I figured I was late to the party. I tried and tried to get the paperback through my local library but the wait was three months long. So, I checked the audiobook section and I couldn’t believe my good fortune. It was available!! And let me tell you something, if you haven’t heard the audio version of the novel, you are missing out. Rosalyn Landor did a splendid reading. Spectacular, really. So much so, that when I finally get to watch it on Netflix, I’m going to be comparing the acting to Ms. Landor’s rendition.
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Here’s another personal tidbit. I do a lot of tedious data entry at my day job. I’m in an office by myself so I can listen to audiobooks to my heart’s content. My boss only walked in on me twice and both times I was laughing uproariously. Oops. But she just smiled, gave me a few more needed tasks, and off she went. Supposedly the audio version takes 12 hours to listen to. You could have fooled me. My day positively flew! I grinned, I chuckled, and I most definitely laughed out loud. This book is awesome! Yes, I realize I’m using a lot of exclamation points in this review but how else can I explain how excited I am about my reading/listening experience?

First, a reader meets Simon as a little child; an only child. My heart broke. His father was an arrogant posterior – unrelenting, unforgiving, and an all-around ogre. Thank goodness little Simon had a staunch protector in his nurse. Child psychologists all agree that trauma experienced at a young age tends to affect that person into adulthood. Simon’s character epitomizes that fact. He grew up to be sophisticated, extremely smart, is respected but thought of as very ducal. The author explains the reality. Again, my feelings were affected. Simon certainly qualifies as a tortured hero.

Now, let’s look at Daphne Bridgerton, the heroine. She’s the very opposite of the hero. She comes from a large, boisterous family and she’s only known love. She’s unusual because she speaks her mind and has a fresh, unpretentious way of looking at things. Having grown up with three older brothers, she is wise in many areas, yet innocent as she should be in the areas expected of a lady. But wow, can she throw a solid punch. I really liked the heroine’s personality.

The first half of the story is about their meeting, the courting, the scheming, and working around her two nosiest brothers, Anthony and Colin. The family dynamics are fascinating and Ms. Quinn wrote them into the novel in a seamless fashion as a natural turn of events in the everyday life of the Bridgerton clan. A reader sees ballroom dramas, raucous dinnertimes with a reference to mashed potatoes on someone’s chair, and a healthy dose of love and laughter between the siblings. It was quite delightful.

The latter half of the novel follows the ramifications of Simon’s bad experiences in his youth and how it affects the marriage that eventually takes place between he and Daphne. I felt so sad for Daphne. She goes from a family that harbors few secrets to a husband who is haunted by them. It gets very intense and I worried for Daphne at a few points. I could understand her point of view, but I understood Simon’s too. I had no idea how things were going to be resolved. Of course it is, that’s part of the very happy and satisfying happy-ever-after of which I was thrilled with. And for those that feel a book isn’t complete without an epilogue, guess what? The audio version has a SECOND epilogue! Yes! And not only is it amazing and wonderful and intriguing and at times humorous, it tied up the loose ends about those letters.

I realize that a narrator can only bring a book to life if the author who wrote it provides amazing material, and based on my experience, Ms. Quinn did an outstanding job. Well, of course she did, it’s now a Netflix sensation, right? Well, Ms. Landor’s narration combined with a great novel has completely wowed me. I’m very happy, thrilled and although late to the Bridgerton party, just as enthusiastic as the many fans out there worldwide. If anyone is like me who hasn’t read, or even listened to this book yet, what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present. The Duke and I ( or as the TV has it, The Duke & I) is a great read no matter how you get it.

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