Season Two of Bridgerton is now streaming on Netflix! In honor of the season's premiere I have decided to give my final review and ranking the books that started it all. I recently finished the last three books and can't wait to share my thoughts. This post will contain some spoilers for the novels and season one of the series.
Let's get into it!
The Duke and I
Tw: Ableism, parental abandonment, SA, miscarriage/still birth
The first book of the series is The Duke and I. This first novel focuses on Daphne Bridgerton, the eldest daughter, and her search for a husband. In the novel, Daphne has been out in society for a few seasons, whereas in the tv show she’s just entering the marriage mart. In both the book and show, Daphne meets Simon Basset, the new Duke of Hastings and her eldest brother Anthony’s closest friend. Daphne, tired of waiting for eligible suitors to notice her, and Simon, refusing to marry and have children, decide to enter a fake courtship. But like any good romance, Simon and Daphne quickly fall in love and when Simon and Daphne are caught in a compromising position wed to avoid scandal. While I enjoyed this book it wasn’t my favorite. I really didn’t enjoy Daphne’s assault on her husband. The show portrayed the act differently than the book, but both instances are not consented too by Simon. There were changes to create more drama in the show but it’s an okay start to the series.
The Viscount Who Loved Me
Tw: PTSD, death of parent
The next Bridgerton book, and the story that season two is based on, is The Viscount Who Loved Me. This novel focuses on the eldest Bridgerton son, Anthony, who has decided its time to find a wife, but he has no intentions of marrying for love. He decides that Edwina Shepard is the woman for him, but all the Ton knows that in order to marry Edwina they need to win over her older sister Kate. Kate Shepard knows of Anthony’s reputation as a rake and doesn’t believe him to be good enough for her sister. Anthony decides to still pursue Edwina while fighting a growing attraction to Kate, who also finds herself falling in love with him. This all comes to a head when the two are arguing in a garden and she is stung by a bee. Anthony, who is traumatized by bees because they caused his father’s death, overreacts, and puts Kate in a compromising position, and they are caught by Lady Featherington. They soon marry but Anthony refuses to admit that he loves Kate. This book was so good. Its charming and falls into all the best romance tropes. This new season has Kate and Edwina played by two South East Asian women, Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandran, and their last name is now Sharma. This season looks so good and I can’t wait to watch it.
An Offer from a Gentleman
Tw: PTSD, death of parent
The third Bridgerton novel is An Offer from a Gentleman and focuses on Benedict Bridgerton, the second eldest Bridgerton child. In the book, Benedict struggles with his identity as a Bridgerton. As the second son, he doesn’t have the same responsibilities as Anthony and feels that people only want to get to know him because of his family. While at a ball thrown by Anthony and Kate, he meets a mysterious young woman and becomes infatuated with her. He searches for her everywhere, but she seems to disappear from London. The mysterious woman is Sofie, the illegitimate daughter of an earl who lives as a maid taking care of her stepmother and stepsisters, much like Cinderella. She snuck out of house to attend the ball. When she is caught having snuck out by her stepmother, she is sent away by threats from her stepmother. Years later, Benedict stumbles upon Sofie at a country house party where she is escaping a drunk noble man. Having realized Sofie was the woman he was looking for, Benedict decides that he is going to take Sofie as a mistress, because a man of his status would never marry a maid. Sofie doesn’t want to be Benedict’s mistress, rightfully so, and they run into trouble when she returns to London and her stepmother finds out. Out of all the siblings shown on the show, Benedict differs from his book character the most. Unlike in the book, Benedict is not as selfish or as much of a jerk as he is in the book. His character in season one really focuses on finding what he enjoys in life and what he wants to do with himself. I’m interested to see how season two carries his character development and if Sofie will be introduced this season.
Romancing Mister Bridgerton
Tw: fatphobia, blackmail
The fourth book focuses on Colin, the third Bridgerton child. After spending his twenties traveling the world, he returns to London. There he runs into Penelope Featherington, who is now 27 and a spinster. Penelope has been in love with Colin ever since she was 17 years old. However, in the previous book Colin loudly tells Anthony and Benedict that he would never marry Penelope, ouch. However, Colin realizes his feelings for Penelope, and they get together. The most important part of the plot though is the reveal of who Lady Whistledown is. This book is kind of forgettable. The most interesting reveal is Penelope as Lady Whistledown. Unlike in the tv show, we don’t get a reveal until her book and her ultimately being blackmailed by Cressida. Colin decides the best plan of action is to just announce Penelope’s secret at the ball Daphne and Simon are throwing. However, Penelope is a likeable character. You want to root for her more than Colin. Another plot point in the novel is that Colin wants to be a writer and write about his travels and often complains about how difficult writing is to Penelope, someone who has been writing and selling a paper for a decade at this point. In the end Penelope helps Colin be a better writer and edit his books for him. I thought it was a bit self-indulgent and if anyone were to be a famous author it should have been Penelope. Their characters are quite similar to how they are in the tv show. With the exception of Colin’s disastrous engagement to Marina Thompson. In the show, Marina is staying with the Featheringtons and learns she is pregnant with her lover’s child. Eventually realizing the struggle she would has as an unwed mother, she has to marry and quickly and decides Colin is the man she wants to marry. However, Colin doesn’t know she’s pregnant and she was going to trick him into thinking the baby was his. Penelope, who loves Colin and doesn’t want him to be trapped in this marriage, reveals Marina’s pregnancy ruining her reputation, the Featherington’s reputation and dragging Colin into the scandal. At the end of the season Marina learns that her lover is dead but his brother, Phillip says he will marry her and she leaves with him.
To Sir Phillip, With Love
Tw: child abuse, depression & postpartum depression, suicide, death of parent
The next novel is To Sir Phillip, With Love and is about Eloise the fifth child. Eloise, the fifth child, has decided to spend her life as a spinster. At 27, she has not wed and has no plans on doing so. Sir Philip Crane was recently widowed and has kept correspondence with Eloise, who is a distant cousin of his wife, Marina Thompson. After a year of writing letters Philip decides he needs a wife and mother for his children and asks Eloise if she would be interested. Upon hearing the news that Colin was going to marry, she decides to run away in the middle of the night with a hired carriage to see if she and Philip would be a match. While there she is met with Phillip’s unruly children Amanda and Oliver who are being neglected by their father. Eloise isn’t certain if she and Phillip are a good match. However, to avoid scandal they marry anyway. Eloise had been at his home for days unchaperoned and was at risk of ruining her reputation. This book and Colin’s book have an overlapping timeline. The night Eloise runs away is the night Colin reveals that Penelope is Lady Whistledown. Eloise uses the ball and a cover to run away. As you probably guessed, Marina Thompson is the same Marina from season one and Phillip is the brother who marries her out of obligation. I’m interested to see how the show will show Marina and Phillip before he becomes Eloise’s love interest. If Marina later is depicted with depression and then postpartum depression, I hope the show does a better job of adding nuance and dignity to her character. The use of suicide and depression by Quinn in this book was a huge turn off for me. Marina is vilified for something she couldn’t control and then Phillip uses it as an excuse to neglect his children. Eloise is also vastly different on the show. She wishes to be able to study and have independence that isn’t allotted to debutant socialite daughters. She wants to be free. But Eloise in the books is just made to be annoying. She’s just “too much”. She talks to much and has too many opinions and is dumb enough to run off alone to a stranger’s house. I wonder how the show will continue with Eloise’s development and how they’re going to work her show personality with the plot of her book.
When He Was Wicked
Tw: miscarriage/pregnancy loss, sudden death
The sixth book is based on the sixth child, Francesca. Before the events of Colin and Eloise’s books, Francesca marries John Stirling, the Earl of Kilmartin. But Michael Stirling, John’s cousin, is also in love with Francesca. Unexpectedly, John dies leaving Francesca a young widow. After his death she learns she is pregnant but looses the baby. Because John died suddenly with no children, Michael becomes the Earl of Kilmartin and promptly runs away to India to work. As John’s widow, Francesca continues to run Kilmartin as countess. After four years of mourning, Francesca decides its time to find a new husband so she can have the one thing she truly wants, a child. But of course, when Francesca decides to end her period of mourning, Michael returns to Scotland. Michael learns of Francesca’s plans to remarry and is distraught. The time and distance apart have done nothing to change his feelings for Francesca and doesn’t know if he can watch her marry someone else. All the while, Francesca is falling in love with Michael. The book spends a lot of time going back and forth between Francesca’s and Michael’s points of view. Both characters have feelings for one another but do not want to ruin the relationship they have with admitting their feelings. The show didn’t feature Francesca much so I had no expectations going into her book and I’m glad I didn’t. For all the back and forth I really enjoyed this book. Francesca was a compelling character and did a great job representing the odd man out in a family. Though she loved her family very much, she craved independence from them and was a lot happier in her life in Scotland than being one of eight in England.
It’s In His Kiss
Tw: child abuse, death of parent
The seventh Bridgerton book focuses on the last daughter, Hyacinth. She has been out in society for a couple seasons but has no intention of marrying. She spends a lot of time with Lady Danbury as they are very close. Lady Danbury, however, has decided that the perfect man for Hyacinth is none other than Gareth St. Clair, her beloved grandson. Gareth however is in a precarious situation. His father hates him and is pouring tons and tons of the estate’s money into debt. Gareth finds a journal written in Italian and is looking for someone to translate it. Hyacinth happens to know Italian and begrudgingly decides to help him because he interests her. The more they investigate the journal, the larger Gareth’s family mystery becomes. Eventually, the fall in love and Gareth asks Hyacinth to marry him. But because of his hatred for his father and the urge to do thing despite him, Hyacinth is convinced he only wants to marry her as another reason to spite him. They reconcile and learn the truth of their mystery. Both Hyacinth and Gregory are children on the show. They don’t have very many lines and are just in the background while the older children are the main characters of the show. There’s a large time gap between The Duke and I and It’s in His Kiss. It is interesting to see how Quinn wrote adult Hyacinth and how the show will portray her. It seems like Hyacinth’s character is what Eloise is to the show. She’s loud opinionated and not afraid to do or say what she wants. She also has an incredibly close relationship with Lady Danbury, who in the show was very close with Simon. But Hyacinth has gained a reputation for being outspoken, I wonder if that’s what will happen with Eloise.
On The Way To The Wedding
Tw: gun violence, blackmail, childbirth, forced marriage
The last book is based on Gregory the youngest son of the Bridgertons. Because of all the success and love matches his siblings and parents made, Gregory believes in true love. Which for a regency romance novel is a bit out of character. He has decided that love at first sight will determine who he’s meant to be with. When Kate is throwing a house party at Aubrey Hall, Gregory sees Hermione Watson and falls madly in love. Hermione is at the party with her dear friend Lucy Abernathy, the daughter of an earl. Lucy is incredibly practical and is engaged to Lucy thinks that Gregory would be a perfectly suited match for Hermione and vows to help Gregory win her over. But of course, she finds herself falling in love with Gregory. When Hermione and Lucy’s brother are found in a compromising and have to wed, Gregory realizes he’s not as heartbroken as he thought he would be and realizes that its Lucy he’s fallen in love with. I really liked this one. Gregory and Lucy were good characters who complemented each other well. Lucy was levelheaded and steadfast when Gregory tended to be an act first kind of guy. Like I mentioned above, in the tv show Gregory is just a child and doesn’t have much screen time or story. I wonder if for the last two books the show will jump ahead or if Gregory and Hyacinth will be magically aged up like a soap opera. Its funny to me that the woman Gregory thinks he’s in love with is named Hermione Watson, its like a combination of Hermione Granger and Emma Watson. I also noticed that there was a character named Neville, I wonder if Julia Quinn was a big Harry Potter fan as the movies were coming out.
The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After
This book contains all eight bonus epilogues for the novels as well as a novella about Violet Bridgerton. The additional epilogues were cute and gave fun incites to some of the supporting characters and plot points that weren’t covered in the original stories. But out of everything, Violet’s novella was definitely my favorite. Violet’s character in both the show and books was something I really enjoyed. With each book she became more and more developed, and I just really liked her. I would love to have a whole book about Violet and Edmund, but the novella is perfect too. Her character is such an amazing depiction of love, loss, perseverance, and dedication to your family.
After reading all eight of the books, and the epilogue book, this is my ranking of the eight main novels.
The Viscount who Loved Me
On The Way to the Wedding
It’s In His Kiss
When He Was Wicked
Romancing Mister Bridgerton
The Duke and I
To Sir Phillip, With Love
An Offer from a Gentleman
Anthony’s story was hands down my favorite. The chemistry between Anthony and Kate was fantastic. I just really loved the book. What surprised me the most was how much I enjoyed Hyacinth and Gregory’s books. In the tv series that are still children so there’s not much character development for either of them, much like Francesca, but their three books ended up being some of my favorites. I really think it has a lot to do with Julia Quinn’s writing style getting better as she wrote more books. On the flip side, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, and Benedict’s books were not my favorite. I really didn’t enjoy An Offer from a Gentleman very much. The characters were just so unlikeable. I get why Shondaland, Netflix and the show runners changed the characters the way they did for the show. They needed to create more drama and their books were kinda bland, in my opinion. I’m interested to see how the series will integrate the remaining books and siblings into the show.
Overall, I did like this book series a lot. It helped me realize that I do enjoy historical romance more than I initially thought. Plus, the tv show is just fantastic. From the music to the costume and actors I absolutely think everyone should watch it. Also if you haven't checked out The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical by Emily Bear and Abigail Barlow you absolutely should. Its a fantastic concept album all based on the first season of the show and was written because of TikTok. Bear and Barlow are nominated for a Grammy for the album. Its truly and amazing piece of art.
Until next time!