My January 2021 selection for the Erotic Book Club was:

Bridgerton: The Duke & I
by Julia Quinn
(book #1 of a 9 book series)

Amazon’s synopsis: By all accounts, Simon Basset is on the verge of proposing to his best friend’s sister—the lovely and almost-on-the-shelf—Daphne Bridgerton. But the two of them know the truth—it’s all an elaborate ruse to keep Simon free from marriage-minded society mothers. And as for Daphne, surely she will attract some worthy suitors now that it seems a duke has declared her desirable.

But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, it’s hard to remember that their courtship is a sham. Maybe it’s his devilish smile, certainly it’s the way his eyes seem to burn every time he looks at her . . . but somehow Daphne is falling for the dashing duke . . . for real! And now she must do the impossible and convince the handsome rogue that their clever little scheme deserves a slight alteration, and that nothing makes quite as much sense as falling in love.

Available in various formats, including audiobook.
Watch on Netflix

Spoilers ahead…BEWARE.

So, rarely do I find the film/TV adaptation of a book nearly as satisfying. I’ve had a few I felt measured up (The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Harry Potter Series), but I’m not sure I’ve every liked a TV series more than the book. Until now. I actually couldn’t wait to watch it. So, I started when I was about half-way through the book, thinking I’d stay just one step ahead of the action.

What I found was this. The television series fleshed out the characters quite a bit more, giving them backstories and side stories that didn’t exist in the novel. There are also a few social elements that exist in the television series that do not exist in the novel. For example, the characters on screen are all of various racial backgrounds. At first, I wasn’t sure what I thought about this, as it wasn’t historically accurate, and I wasn’t sure what the director was trying to accomplish. There’s also the younger Bridgerton sister who doesn’t want to conform to society’s rules for women, and the Featherton’s visiting “cousin” who is already pregnant and seeking a quick marital solution to her “problem.”

It only took a few episodes for me to let go of the confines of the book, however, and accept the directorial changes as superior and quite a lot more entertaining.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book. Though formulaic and expected in many regards, one has to understand that these are usually part and parcel of the romance genre. It’s why I usually avoid it, unless I really crave mindless reading.

Now…before you go getting your panties in a bunch, if you’re a fan of romance, I’m not saying it was poorly written. In all regards, it was a well-crafted little story. It wasn’t all that sexy, however, even by romance standards, which I found disappointing.

I did enjoy the two epilogues, and I was glad to know how life turned out for the main characters (although I assumed that’s what the other 8 books would have been for). It was certainly a quick read, and I found the story and characters engaging, if predictable.

I guess the questions that always come to mind when I read a romance like this, especially when I know it is so popular is this – in such a “feminist” society, how is that we are still so in love with stories that place women in such powerless roles? That’s not a jab, by any means. I’m drawn to these stories, myself, but then – I’m a submissive. This television series is currently #1 on Netflix…which says something.

I also wonder how others feel about the changes that the director has made. So if you’ve read the book and watched the series, drop your opinion below.

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