When I read a book, I want to become involved emotionally. A book that does that is more likely to be highly rated. Such was the case with The Duke an...moreWhen I read a book, I want to become involved emotionally. A book that does that is more likely to be highly rated. Such was the case with The Duke and I.
I have a sickness, an infatuation for tortured, dark, conflicted heroes. The happy-go-lucky guys don't capture my imagination nearly so much as their darker counterparts. Fortunately, Simon was tortured enough to keep me happy.
The beginning of this book was brilliantly done. I was already captivated with Simon, the future Duke of Hastings. My heart cried for him. I wanted to see him overcome the obstacles that were unfairly set before him, to become the man he was capable of being. And boy, did he become quite a man.
Imagine my surprise, that for all my affinity for Simon, that the star of this story was Daphne? She started out very mild, sweet (typical Regency heroine), not necessarily standing out. But, by the end of this book, I loved her. She was just the woman that Simon needed. He was what she wanted, and she was going to get her man, and wouldn't settle for less than all of him. She had mettle, and she wasn't afraid to challenge Simon to change the future, and to shake free from the chains of the past, which held him prisoner. Perhaps he never would have found true happiness and joy if Daphne had not hammered (gently and not so gently, at times) at the walls around his heart.
The event that puts a strain on their marriage could be read in different ways. I like that Ms. Quinn put that scene in. It was a brave move on her part. And there is enough ambiguity there to wonder if there was some culpability on Daphne's part. And it turns around some of those ever-present outcries we often get about sexual dynamics in romance.
I liked that Simon had his so-called 'flaw'. I don't tend to care for perfect characters, because I don't enjoy rooting for them nearly so much as the flawed/less-than perfect ones. I loved that Daphne accepted that about him, and thought he was wonderful for overcoming the obstacles he faced, and that she thought he was brilliant. She loved him so much, enough to fight for him, and she did many times. In fact, I'd call Daphne the Knight in Shining Armor of this book. Go, Daphne!
What was underwhelming about this book?
Well, I thought some of the humor aspects were a bit off. I couldn't find the balance between humor and angst. On the plus side, I did like the family dynamics, and the humor they brought to the situation. Those were some of my favorite humorous moments. I liked very much that Daphne's family were useful weapons in her arsenal to win her fair prince. Simon had never felt the loving bonds of family. He was captivated by the Bridgerton family dynamics, good and bad.
I must say that Anthony annoyed the crap out of me. He was a bit of a hypocrit. I think that he forgot that Simon was a man he respected, and that he cared about his best friend. When he saw that Simon and Daphne had an attraction to each other, Simon became his enemy. He refused to believe that Simon could be honorable. I know what you're saying. I realize that Anthony took his responsiblity to protect his sister seriously. But, if Simon could look at the situation from Anthony's vantage point, I would hope that Anthony would try to do the same. I didn't see him doing that. I do have to say that I really admired how well Daphne stood up to her over-protective brothers, especially when they tried to interfere in her marriage. She put her foot down, and she needed to, or that wouldn't even stop, for as long as she was married.
The other thing that bothered me about this book was that at times, it seemed to lapse into a modern voice. I know I shouldn't be so picky, but that's a rather large pet peeve of mine. However, I do have to say that for the most part, Ms. Quinn does the Regency period very well.
I thought this was a good book, and probably my second favorite novel by Julia Quinn, after To Sir Phillip with Love. I don't go for the lighter Regencies that much, but this had enough angst in it to keep me pretty happy. Although I read it for a challenge, and to get it off my tbr pile, where it had been languishing for several years, I ended up reading it very quickly, and I enjoyed it very much.
Lord of Desire was a very good introduction for me to Paula Quinn's work. I found myself drawn into this novel about a young woman who falls in love w...moreLord of Desire was a very good introduction for me to Paula Quinn's work. I found myself drawn into this novel about a young woman who falls in love with a man based on how powerfully he loves another woman. It sounds weird, but this was quite a hook.
Brynna came across Brand and his love Colette, frolicking in a sun-drenched pond. From that moment on, she cannot shake the visions of her black-haired, blue-green eyed merman with his all-consuming joy and passion that spills from him for his lover. Much to her surprise, her merman turns out to be one and the same as her arranged husband. Except now he is a cold-eyed, fierce, frightening Norman warrior, one who vows never to love her. Although Brynna craves a husband that can love her, she is willing to marry him anyway, if it will save her home. However, this strong, determined woman can't help but fight to chip away the glacial ice that coats her husband's heart.
I was captivated with Brand. His mix of icy ferocity and passionate emotion truly intrigued me, and had me falling for him. I liked the descriptions of him, and how clear it was that he was a very good man, one who'd had his heart stomped on by a woman who he loved so deeply that this love destroyed him when she betrayed him. He was very tortured in that he had given so much of himself that nothing but a deep, dark void remained. I could totally see why Brynna fell hard for him. I did too, I must admit.
At first, I was worried that Brynna would be too bratty for me, but she wasn't. She was very spirited and she stood up for herself and for others, which I liked. I loved that she was strong enough to take on her troubled husband (and the spectre of the woman who did him wrong), and to love him deeply, even knowing it could be a losing proposition in the end.
I liked the setting and the storyline, which prominently features a real life historical figure, Duke William of Normandy, otherwise known to us medieval history buffs as William the Conquerer, the man who changed the face of England in 1066. William's character is brought to vivid life as a big, strong, hearty, passionate man. Brand is one of his most trusted warriors, and William himself campaigned for the marriage between Brand and Brynna. He becomes a close friend and ally to Brynna in her battle to win her husband's frozen heart. I have this feeling that Ms. Quinn has a bit of a crush on William the Conqueror. He plays a big role in this book, and his scenes and dialogue are delivered with a loving attention to detail. It was a nice touch for me, since I haven't read any books that showed William as a real man, and a prominent character. I have to say that I liked him very much in this novel.
Although there are elements of intrigue and danger, most of the focus is centered on the developing relationship between Brynna and Brand. The chemistry and passion between them is red-hot, and I felt that powerful intensity that wrapped their hearts together. The love scenes were good and plentiful, although I did feel like some of the word choices were a little purple prosy. I struggle with how love scenes are described in some books. I don't like the raunchy language, but I admit that the purple euphemisms can make me giggle. It makes me wonder if it's better just to keep the descriptions vague if you don't want to go there and be too explicit. I think in this case, the attraction between this couple was so fierce, I probably didn't even need all the descriptions to be satisfied with the love scenes.
One other aspect I liked was how sinister the villain turned out to be. I read a lot of books, and I wish that many more had truly nasty villainesses. This is one for you if you like to see a good female villain. It really struck me that this woman could be so conniving and evil. I wish there was a bit more of a resolution on her final fate, but at least she's out of the picture between Brand and Brynna. And that's all that matters.
I have to say I am glad that I have several of Ms. Quinn's books in my pile. I like her style. She won me over with this tale of a man that is both hot like fire, and cold and fierce like iron is to faeries. I am a sucker for a good medieval romance, and this fit the bill very nicely. Recommended!(less)
I really enjoyed Lie by Moonlight, and I think a huge part of its charm was listening to it on audio. The narrator has a great voice, she speaks with...moreI really enjoyed Lie by Moonlight, and I think a huge part of its charm was listening to it on audio. The narrator has a great voice, she speaks with an English accent, and she modified her voice for the various characters, based on class, gender, and personality. I like how she captured the Victorian feel--both a mystery vibe and a romantic in a classic way vibe. She showed the chemistry that Concordia and Ambrose shared, and also she conveys the sense of family between Concordia and the girls, Edwina, Phoebe, Hannah, and Theodora. How they become a big family along with Ambrose, Mr. Stoner, and Mrs. and Mr. Oates.
The storyline was good. I liked that although Concordia is a woman who carries herself with respect and maturity, she does own up to her rather unconventional upbringing without letting it define her as a person. I really appreciate heroines who are independent, but also rational and thoughtful in their decision-making. Concordia never goes off like a loose cannon, which always seems to invalidate a heroine's intelligence and self-sufficiency to me when I read that in a book. Concordia also showed a lot of heart and integrity in how she protected the young girls in her care. I personally like heroines who believe in doing the right thing and helping those who have been oppressed, disenfranchised, or who are disadvantaged. Although Quick doesn't beat the reader over the head with the history of the Victorian times and how women were treated, especially orphans with no money or status, I could see that as the background for this story. I respected that although Concordia's parents shared one set of values, she didn't feel like she had to adopt their own values for herself when they obviously weren't valid or healthy to her.
Ambrose was a man of mystery and I liked that about him. I liked seeing how his background shaped his future and how he uses his skills to help people, even though he gets a personal high out of shadowy feats of espionage. It was clear that he fell for Concordia fast, but it was also organic how his feelings evolved with each moment he spent with her. I was rooting for Concordia to ask him to marry him, and I loved how he put that ball in her court because he knew she needed to have that sense of authority in her life.
The suspense and mystery elements were good. I didn't truly guess what was going on until the end. I thought things would go in one direction, but with the excellent plotting, Ms. Quick was able to bring the story to a resolution that made sense for the story.
This is my second read by Amanda Quick, Second Sight being the first. I liked Second Sight, but I really liked this one. I am glad I have several other books by Ms. Quick in my collection to read, and I will definitely avail myself of the Quick books on audio at the library when I can.
I do recommend this one on audio. The narrator adds so much to the charm and appeal of this book. Thumbs up from this reader.