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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!
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The Bridgertons are by far the most prolific family in upper echelons of society. Such industriousness on the part of the viscountess and the late viscount is commendable, although one can find only banality in their choice of names for their children. Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory, and Hyacinth--orderliness is, of course, beneficial in all things, but one would think that intelligent parents would be able to keep their children straight without needing to alphabetize their names.
Furthermore, the sight of the viscountess and all eight of her children in one room is enough to makeone fear one is seeing double-or triple-or worse. Never has This Author seen a collection of siblings so ludicrously alike in their physical regard. Although This Author has never taken the time to record eye color, all eight possess similar bone structure and the same thick, chestnut hair. One must pity the viscountess as she seeks advantageous marriages for her brood that she did not produce a single child of more fashionable coloring. Still, there are advantages to a family of such consistent looks-there can be no doubt that all eight are of legitimate parentage.
Ah, Gentle Reader, your devoted Author wishes that that were the case amid all large families ...
Lady Whistledown's Society Papers, 26 APRIL 1813
Ooooooooohhhhhhhhh!" Violet Bridgerton crumpled the single-page newspaper into a hall and hurled it across the elegant drawing room.
Her daughter Daphne wisely made no comment and pretended to be engrossed in her embroidery.
"Did you read what she said?" Violet demanded. "Did you?"
Daphne eyed the ball of paper, which now rested under a mahogany end table. "I didn't have the opportunity before you, er, finished with it."
"Read it, then," Violet wailed, her arm slicing dramatically through the air. "Read how that woman has maligned us."
Daphne calmly set down her embroidery and reached under the end table. She smoothed the sheet of paper out on her lap and read the paragraph about her family. Blinking, she looked up. "This isn't so bad, Mother. In fact, it's a veritable benediction compared to what she wrote about the Featheringtons last week."
"How am I supposed to find you a husband while that woman is slandering your name?"
Daphne forced herself to exhale. After nearly two seasons in London, the mere mention of the word husband was enough to set her temples pounding. She wanted to marry, truly she did, and she wasn't even holding out for a true love match. But was it really too much to hope for a husband for whom one had at least some affection?
Thus far, four men had asked for her hand, but when Daphne had thought about living the rest of her days in the company of any of them, she just couldn't do it. There were a number of men she thought might make reasonably good husbands, but the problem was--none of them was interested. Oh, they all liked her. Everyone liked her. Everyone thought she was funny and kind and a quick wit, and no one thought her the least bit unattractive, but at the same time, no one was dazzled by her beauty, stunned into speechlessness by her presence, or moved to write poetry in her honor.
Men, she thought with disgust, were interested only in those women who terrified them. No one seemed inclined to court someone like her. They all adored her, or so they said, because she was so easy to talk to, and she always seemed to understand how a man felt. As one of the men Daphne had thought might make a reasonably good husband had said, "Deuce take it, Daff, you're just not like regular females. You're positively normal."
The Duke and IBy: Julia Quinn