Best Bridgerton Books: Read These in Order After Watching Netflix Hit
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One of the biggest surprises of the 2020-21 streaming season was Bridgerton, the Regency-era series, which was in equal parts a scandalous Shondaland drama, like a love letter to the entire bodice-ripper genre of fiction.
Based on Julia Quinn’s bestselling historical romance novel series, the first season of the Shonda Rhimes-produced Netflix show included the first book, The Duke and I, which follows the whirlwind commercials of high profile celebrities Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page). The show was an instant hit with both royal viewers and drama fans, bringing the cast to rising star status while the original book series topped the bestseller list.
What are the best Bridgerton books in order?
While Netflix has announced it is renewing Bridgerton for a second season, it may take a while before another passed out episode of episodes is available. However, if you’ve devoured the first few episodes like a delicious tea scoop and hungry for more, look no further. Quinn’s original Bridgerton series contains eight novels that follow the trials and tribulations and, of course, the romantic lives of the other Bridgerton siblings. With high tension, whirlwind romances, and steamy scenes (sometimes much more X-rated than on the TV show), they’re great for people who find the gentle hand movements of Austen’s work just too tame.
While you eagerly await the second season, here is our guide to reading the eight Bridgerton novels and reading them in order. Buy it in paperback for your Kindle or listen to the audiobooks for free. Here you can test Audible free of charge for 30 days.
1. The Duke & I (Bridgerton)
The source material for the Netflix series, The Duke and I, revolves around the classic fake dating, Will-They-Will-They Trope, but it’s oh so well done. During the high society advertising season, Bridgerton’s eldest daughter, Daphne, agrees to fake an advert starring the mysterious Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. They plan their elaborate charade to keep the curious eyes of curious married mothers away from the Duke and to make Daphne a hot commodity for the other eligible bachelors. Her plan begins to dissolve, however, when Daphne really falls in love with Simon – you can see where this is going, but the passionate journey is well worth it.
2. The Viscount who loved me
While the first book focuses on Daphne and Simon’s journey to marriage, the second deals with the elusive bachelor and Lady Whistledown-certified rake Anthony, the eldest Bridgerton son. After Anthony is fed up with his reputation, he decides to settle down and marry Edwina, the very honorable young woman he deems necessary. Too bad her sister Kate Sheffield is stopping his efforts at every turn, determined to keep her younger sister from marrying someone like Anthony. But through her witty jokes and battles of will, Kate finds out that she wants the Viscount all to herself. Not everyone can be immune to this Regency Bad Boy charm.
3. An offer from a gentleman
Who doesn’t love a good Cinderella story? Benedict Bridgerton, the clan’s second eldest son, plays the role of Prince Charming as he dances at a masquerade ball with a mysterious woman for the night of his life. This woman turns out to be Sophie Beckett, the daughter of a count, but she lives her days as a servant when she was forced into the position by her cruel stepmother. Benedict is attracted to a trusted housemaid when he searches for the mysterious woman of his dream. But the novel examines the implications of their class differences, knowing that Sophie knows they may never be together.
4. Romancing Mister Bridgerton
Fans of the Netflix adaptation will enjoy this sequel to the unrequited romance between Colin, Bridgerton’s third brother, and Penelope, Featherington’s youngest daughter. After Colin has spent a lot of time abroad and is fed up with his crazy ways (sounds familiar?), He returns to town and crosses paths with Penelope again. She’s not quite the wallflower she once was, but she still holds a flame for him after all these years. As they dance around each other, Penelope has a secret that could threaten everything if Colin finds out (those who saw the show can probably deduce what that secret is).
5. To Sir Phillip with love
Quick-witted fan favorite Eloise Bridgerton, who had no interest in marriage in season one, is now a virgin when we find her in book five. While she is in correspondence with her late cousin’s husband, Sir Philip Crane, he suggests that she live with him as his children need a new mother. So Eloise moves to the country and moves in with her new, imperfect match. But despite doubts about him and their wrong marriage plan, they slowly learn to accept and love each other’s mistakes.
6. When he was angry
This book again switches perspective to the outside of the Bridgerton family, with the primary love interest (and another notorious rake), Michael Stirling. He has a deep crush on Francesca Bridgerton after seeing her for the first time – coincidentally days before her wedding to his cousin. But when unfortunate circumstances lead Michael to assume the title of his cousin and Francesca is left alone, Michael tries to make it clear to her that he can be more than just her trusted confidante.
7. It’s in his kiss
After the youngest Bridgerton daughter, Hyacinth, met Gareth St. Clair at the Smythe Smith musical, a preliminary spark blossoms. When Gareth reveals that he needs help translating an old diary into Italian to save his legacy, Hyacinth agrees to help. The longer they spend together working towards their unique goal, the closer they get to finding answers that have been ahead of them all along (spoilers: the answer is love).
8. On the way to the wedding
With the final installment of the Bridgerton saga, we follow the only non-Iraqi Bridgerton brother, Gregory. He is sentimental and believes in love at first sight when he sees Hermione Watson. However, she is in love with another man, someone who is her best friend, Lady Lucinda Abernathy. As Lucinda graciously agrees to help Gregory win Hermione’s hand, they discover true love between the two of them. But double twist! Lucy is already engaged to a husband of her uncle, and he’s not particularly interested in letting her out that easily.
What are books like Bridgerton?
While Bridgerton’s storylines are admittedly edgy, their real royal counterparts have had their share of filthy stories themselves. Here are some books on the true Regency Era if you want a historical look at your favorite Bridgerton novels.
1. Jane Austen’s England
Jane Austen’s novels remain one of the greatest inspirations in the way we view the reign in modern times. Still, no one can deny that their lens was aimed exactly at the way the other half lived, mostly on the issues of money and class (including romance) which affected a very small section of English society. Authors Roy and Lesley Adkins offer a culturally and socially rich glimpse of England at the time of Austen’s novels and the way events like war and riot affected regular nobles and citizens. This is important reading for both history buffs and Janeites.
2. Mad & Bath
“The popular image of the reign continues to be mythologized by the hundreds of romance novels of the time, which focus almost exclusively on wealthy, white, Christian members of the upper class,” says the description of the book by author Bea Koch. Koch takes a more intersectional feminist look at the popular era, telling the stories of real women who led famous lives beyond the confines of this popular genre. It explores the history of LGBTQ women and Jewish rule, women of skin color and women who have worked in fields such as astronomy and paleontology.
3. The reigns
The Regency Years feels like a romance novel that retells historical events, which is why we highly recommend it. Author Robert Morrison argues here that it was indeed the reign that laid the foundation for modernity, rather than the recognition that Victorians often receive. The chapters cover a wide range of topics including economics, social reform, arts and entertainment, war, and more. You may know the main actors of the era (Shelleys, Byron, Austen, etc.), but do you know everyone else who made history behind the scenes? Morrison’s dynamic style, as well as quotes from letters and diaries, show you how that time shaped the world we know today.