Season 2 of Bridgerton is coming out soon, and all the buzz about the first season is back in full force. This review has a few spoilers but nothing major that would take away from the experience of reading The Duke and I or watching Bridgerton.
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How I Got “Hooked” on Bridgerton
I love reading, but I’m also (for the most part) a huge fan of Netflix and Disney+. They save my sanity some days and are why we eat most days. My daughter was obsessed with the show Sofia the First, and we have watched every episode three or four times now. It is a fantastic show, and I highly recommend it!
Since I’ve been on Netflix frequently, as you can tell from a peek into our watch history, I was introduced to Bridgerton and the books it was based on through their featured trending shows.
Netflix’s advertising strategy with their featured clips about Bridgerton totally got me hooked on the story about a girl and a guy tricking society with their fake romance. However, I was wary of the TV-MA rating. I’m not a fan of nudity or sex in my television shows or books. Noticing that the series was based on books, I decided to start there and then figure out whether or not I really wanted to watch the show.
I’ve read a lot of regency romances about a girl during her debut season who ends up falling for the rake or guy that she isn’t supposed to be with. It seems like the authors change up a few details about the characters, but the story is the same every. single. time.
Oh, and of course, the author has to add a bunch of sex to make the story palatable. After reading many regency novels, I can pretty much pinpoint when the first sex scene will happen in the book so I can skip it. With that as my background, I was not impressed with The Duke and I by Julia Quinn. It didn’t stand out as anything new or different compared with other trashy regency romances.
Synopsis of The Duke and I
The two main characters, Daphne and Simon, fake a relationship to make the most of the season. Daphne wants more marriage prospects, and if Simon, a duke, shows interest, then others will as well. Simon uses his fake relationship with Daphne to drive off the other marriage-hungry Mamas from conspiring and trapping him into a marriage. They end up falling in love and getting married about halfway through the book.
Why I Didn’t Like It
My main complaint about the whole story is the entire conflict of the story revolves 100% around the sex life of the main characters. Yes, sex is a vital part of a relationship, especially a brand new marriage. But there are so many different and more captivating story elements that would have made this story fantastic instead of just meh.
Also, because their sex life takes center stage in their conflict, the sex scenes in the book are very long and very detailed. The details are semi-necessary to understand the conflict between the two characters. However, I don’t want or need to know the intimate points of someone else’s sex life. If an author has to rely on sex to power the story, they don’t have a good plot and need to rethink what direction they are planning to take.
What come after The Duke and I?
After reading The Duke and I, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read the rest of the books in the series. I ended up reading the rest to better help inform you. Plus, I kind of wanted to see if the rest of the Bridgerton books were just as bad. Finding out who Lady Whistledown is was just a bonus. Spoiler alert: you will not discover her identity in this book. It is revealed a few books into the series in this book.
The next couple of books had just as much sex, but it wasn’t as prominent in the story as the first book. By the end of the Bridgerton series, Julia Quinn had matured as an author and could write a very engaging and new story that didn’t rely on sex. I remember some sex in the later books, but it is not nearly as long or descriptive as the first book or two. Which meant that I enjoyed the end of the series far better than the beginning.
Quick Parent Guide for The Duke and I
Violence: PG There is almost a duel, and a couple of fists are thrown.
Language: 73 instances of biblical swearing; 22.5% of pages have language
Adult Content: R or X; Long graphic descriptions of sex, a make out session with nudity.
Touchy Topics and Trigger Warnings
There are some touchy topics in The Duke and I that require trigger warnings. Some are more sensitive than others. They include:
- Child neglect
- Loving home versus neglectful home
- Having to win at all costs
- Death of a parent
The Duke and I vs. Bridgerton Season 1
Here is the burning question: is the book anything like the TV show? The simple answer is yes and no.
The main story between Daphne and Simon is pretty much the same in the show as in the books. Many of their dates and interactions are taken straight from the books. There is quite a lot that sets up for future stuff, like Anthony and his mistress having a falling out. However, even more of the story is fabricated to take up space.
What is different in Bridgerton?
There is way more sex and nudity in the TV show compared to the book. I watched it with the remote in my hand, so I could fast-forward through random scenes that did not happen in the book. Like Anthony’s pants being around his ankles almost every episode or Benedict going to crazy parties with nude models. Plus, the whole scene where Simon talks about masturbating and then Daphne experimenting… Ya didn’t happen in the book!
The first scene in the television series with Daphne making a fool of herself doesn’t happen in the book. Instead, she just has three very overprotective brothers who drive off all of her conquests. Because the Queen isn’t a character in the books, Eloise isn’t trying to figure out who Lady Whistledown is. Everyone speculates, but there isn’t a hunt for her yet. That comes in later books. We also don’t learn of her identity until book 4.
The scandal with the Featheringtons and Colin also never happens in the book. The only thing we hear about the Featheringtons is how terrible their fashion sense is. We do know about Penelope Featherington and her friendship with Eloise, though. She also has her eye on Colin.
The Duke and I is not a book for teenagers at all. I also don’t recommend this book or series to anyone looking for a “clean read” or something with closed-door sex. Sex takes center stage in this book. There isn’t enough sex for The Duke and I to be considered erotica, but it isn’t far off in some chapters.
If you are comfortable watching the television series or other MA rating materials, you would probably enjoy reading The Duke and I. However, don’t be expecting anything PG-13 or even PG-17. To be honest, there are so many other fantastic regency romances out there that you could be reading instead, like Edenbrooke or The Heiress of Winterwood. For more romance novels with a little less steam, check out this post with 13 of my favorites.