I really enjoyed this book. And I spent nearly all day today finishing it despite the fact that I had too many other things to do (that didn't get done, by the way). The banter between the hero and heroine was fabulous, and their chemistry was expertly crafted. Simon was a beautifully tortured hero whose story definitely tugged at one's heart. I liked Daphne, too. She was tough and feisty without being annoying. She stood up for herself and responded to conflicts and situations with thoughtfulness and intelligence. The Bridgerton family dynamic was also well-developed in this book. Since this is the first of a series, there is the necessary world-building and stage-setting for the rest of the books, but fortunately it did not overpower the central romance, as series firsts are often guilty of doing.
This is the first Julia Quinn book I've ever read, and I do enjoy her writing style. This book revolved around the upper-crust of English society, and I'm generally not a fan of those types of books.
Some serious issues I had with the book -
I love family series, and I'm fine with the protective older brother archetype in these books, but the Bridgerton brothers' behavior went over the line. I detest when characters actually challenge one another to duels in romances, even though I know it was a reality of the times. But why on Earth would we want our heroine's brother to actually be willing to kill the hero? Especially when the brother is going to be one our heroes in a later book? I had a problem with that.
I also had a problem with the heroine punching the hero and giving him a black eye. This would not have flown at all had the roles been reversed. Why should it be ok the other way around?
I didn't like that the heroine practically begged the hero to marry her. It seemed a bit pathetic to me. I understand that propriety demanded the marriage, and I appreciate that fact it its historical context, but she was thrilled even though moments before he'd been willing to die rather than marry.
Finally... I was a little angry at the heroine for trying to conceive with the hero against his will. And she was never sorry about it, even though she knew it wasn't what he wanted. Just because in the end he decided it WAS what he wanted, doesn't make it right.
It was a highly enjoyable read despite the above issues.