So Bridgerton has taken over the world huh? I first heard about this adaptation a hot second ago when I watched a panel with a variety of romance authors. I was watching for our fave Mariana Zapata (romance readers, read her books) and Julia Quinn was also on the panel. I knew nothing about her books, but the topic of the Netflix series came up and I was like ooooh I love romantic period pieces, sign me up.
I then learned that JQ has had some racist incidents in her past and learned about the gross lack of consent in a sex scene in The Duke and I (book one of Bridgerton). I still was going to watch the show and I hoped that they would take out that scene. They did not.
EDIT: Since the posting of this review I have listened to this Shelf Love Podcast’s episode which discusses the adaption having people of color, Julia Quinn’s remarks, whose novels get adapted and who is making $$ from that. I found it very nuanced and appreciated the conversation since prior to watching the show I knew a lot less about Bridgerton and the historical romance world. It’s worth a listen if you’re a fan of the show/books.
This review is not about the show, but it is worth mentioning since the show has been everywhere and is the reason I picked up these books.
As some backstory, Bridgerton dropped while my family was in a middle of a strict quarantine and it was Christmas. We did not celebrate Christmas until January and I was looking for anything to look forward to during this time. So I watched all of Bridgerton on Christmas Day.
After I finished the show I wanted to know what happened next. I knew each sibling had their own book and I wanted to know what was in store for the Bridgerton family. I just planned on reading the Wikipedia summaries, but could not find any good summary. So I then decided to read book two, thinking I would not like it. I did not think I would like Quinn’s writing and these books are old which in historical romance sometimes means there are some more problematic elements than modern HR. The Duke and I has the gross content issue, so I was worried the other books would have problematic stuff like that. But, I ended up reading The Viscount Who Loved Me in two sittings. It was so good and I just sort of…continued…until I finished the last book the last week of February.
These books are dated and parts are problematic. But, they brought me so much joy during this trying time that I wanted to share my thoughts. Will I pick up any more Julia Quinn books? Probably not since I have plenty of other historicals I want to read, but maybe one day.
Oh, I started with book two and never picked up book one. I saw the show and have read some “differences between book and movies” posts. I can’t get behind Daphne and Simon’s relationship after that scene so I didn’t really want to read about it.
Also, there are quite a few things that pop up in all of these books which if you don’t read them back to back to back like I did you might not notice, but I included some of them here because they entertained me.
- I burn for you
- The “you’re mine”, she was his, etc.
- A wedding bc someone is “compromised” or a quick wedding bc LOVE
- Men who propose to a woman they love without admitting they love her
- People who go through similar emotions and yet DO NOT SPEAK ABOUT THEM (specifically the men do not share feelings EVER)
- These Bridgerton men would rather die than share feelings
- Someone who isn’t important dies to pass on a title (also common in many HR books)
~ Also this is a long post so thanks in advance for reading ~
The Viscount Who Loved Me – Anthony’s Book
CW: fear of bees and thunderstorms, parental death, panic attack, death of parent (prior to novel)
Plot: Kate is super prejudiced against Anthony and Anthony is trying to court her sister. Anthony thinks he is going to die young but needs to leave an heir TO CARRY THE BRIDGERTON LINE and thus has decided to marry.
This one is a bit dated (man is a little too possessive for my liking, the virgin heroine thing was a bit over the top, and it was v cheesy at times) BUT WOW I LOVED KATE AND ANTHONY. They are enemies to lovers with some excellent banter and some Pride & Prejudice vibes.
Am I projecting my love for Anthony in the show onto book Anthony? Yes. Do I care? No. I just love character development and this boy goes from being the worst, to being not the worst. TV show Anthony has a lot of growing to do to be worthy of KATE but dang I’m excited to see them fall in love and to see her put him in his place.
This book is just so fun. I kept smiling and LOLing to myself. It’s a bit over the top I mean there is an event involving a bee and sucking venom out that is A LOT, but this is historical fantasy, everything doesn’t have to be so serious.
The family dynamics in this book are so much fun. I adore the Bridgertons, but Kate and her family were fab too. I adore sisters who love each other, and Edwina and Kate are so supportive. Edwina is like LOL I knew it. The Bridgertons are just so fun any time they are on page. That Colin and Anthony scene in the beginning TOP NOTCH I LOVE COLIN. Then they play croquet??? Aubrey Hall?? Perfection.
So much of this writing and dialogue is FUNNY in part because it’s over the top, but in part bc of JQ’s writing. I will admit I did not want to like JQ at all, but her writing won me over.
Me this entire book: CAN SOMEONE JUST GIVE ANTHONY A HUG
My main issue with this book (aside from the dated content) is that Anthony does not talk to Kate about anything serious. Even when he has plenty of opportunities. Kate has no idea he is suffering, and Anthony is just like I CANNOT SPEAK ABOUT IT. Basically, I was just like talk to Kate? Please? We love a self-destructive man, but it was a little too drawn out for me.
Overall, I adored Kate and Anthony was fine, but I hope the show makes him a little better LOL. In all future books anytime Kate shows up, I was cheering. 4/5 stars (also I think this was my favorite of the whole series)
An Offer from a Gentleman – Benedict’s Book
1815 then 1817
TW: attempted rape (not described in detail), emotional abuse
Plot: Sophie and Benedict have a magical mysterious night at the Bridgerton masquerade ball. She is a maid for her stepmom and has no business going to the ball, but she sneaks out for one night of magic. But she disappears at midnight and Benedict is disappointed. This is basically Cinderella.
Once again, I am projecting my love of Benedict from the show onto book Benedict, but I was excited to get his story. Even though he loves his family, he wants to be seen as his own man and more than just “the second Bridergton boy”.
I was worried how this book was going to work, I mean in Cinderella the Prince and Ella don’t meet again until the end and then it is Happily Ever After, so I was a bit apprehensive. But Sophie is kicked out of her house and then we time jump two years. Benedict and Sophie have another chance meeting and Benedict does not recognize her (remember it was a masquerade).
Julia Quinn’s writing is so easy to follow and get invested in. However, I was not a fan that like three times Sophie and Benedict both say something along the lines of I FELT IN THAT MOMENT MY LIFE WAS CHANGING FOREVER because it was a lot.
These books are so trope – y and fun. We got we have to stay together in this abandoned cottage together. She has to nurse him back to health. She sees him swimming in a lake!! Honestly them at the cottage was my favorite thing. The Crabtree’s (who work at the cottage) were the best too.
Once Benedict makes his intentions known, he does get too possessive for my liking. Which with their class difference the power dynamics are a bit gross here and Benedict basically forces Sophie to move to his mother’s house, which is annoying. It is immaterial that this was a really good thing for Sophie.
Benedict: I need to be my own man! Away from the Bridgertons! I am more than the second son!
Me every chapter: WHERE ARE THE BRIDGERTONS
We don’t get a ton of Bridgerton content WHERE WAS KATE?? (cries), but I adored Violet in this book. Seeing her totally know what is up with Sophie and Benedict was *chef’s kiss* and that moment with Benedict at the end was too cute. About time these kids appreciated VIOLET BRIDGERTON!!
Also, that conversation between Benedict and Sophie where she truly “sees” him is too much (in the best way).
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I can’t believe how quick these books are and how fun they are. Benedict and Sophie are too cute and I’m just happy that it worked out for them.
We are also TWO FOR TWO for the couple being like I BURN FOR YOU so like…. 4/5 stars
Romancing Mister Bridgerton – Colin’s (and Penelope’s) Book
Plot: Penelope has been in love with Colin since she was 16 and saw him fall off a horse. Colin is trying to figure out what kind of legacy he will leave behind besides being a “charmer”. Meanwhile, Lady Danbury has offered a challenge for the ton to discover the identity of the gossip columnist, Lady Whistledown, for a reward of a 1000 pounds
Going into this one I was a bit apprehensive because I was not happy that Penelope lost weight and I’m not the biggest fan of friends to lovers. But, I did adore Penelope and Colin in the show. I did like this one, but it wasn’t my favorite.
I really did love the characters; Penelope is funny and clever and Colin is a fun time. He is always hungry and gets hangry. He also swears in front of Penelope which is grand. But, let me be clear PENELOPE DESERVES BETTER than book Colin. I hope in the show they develop him a bit more.
I love Penelope and Eloise’s friendship. Eloise is one of my faves and I loved seeing her on page so much, especially since her book is next. We also get a lot of Lady Danbury who I also love.
This book has some good themes like who you really are as a person versus who people think you are and how they preserve you. It also discusses how you have every right to your feelings.
Fave quote: “it’s not about the music” WELL GOOD THING LUKE PATTERSON IS NOT HERE (this is a Julie and the Phantoms references lmao)
Colin gets a little too angry and annoying at times of conflict (I wrote that in my notes twice lol). I don’t love how they have these big fights and then just kiss and make up but don’t really like talk it out. Lmao these Bridgerton BOYS SUCK AT COMMUNICATING
Overall, I enjoyed this one, but wish Colin had handled things a little differently. This one wasn’t my favorite and the “who is Whistledown” took up a lot of page time that I would’ve preferred to see more from Colin and Pen. 3.5/5 stars
To Sir Phillip With Love – Eloise’s Book
TW: suicide, depression (not explicitly stated), child abuse
Plot: Eloise has been writing to Sir Phillip for a year and when he suggests marriage and she is seeing all her friends/family get married, Eloise jumps at the chance to see if they would suit. However, she doesn’t tell anyone she is going.
So my notes for this read are terrible so if this isn’t my best summary, I’m sorry.
I adore Eloise. She is probably my favorite character from the show, and I was hyped to read her book. I’m glad we got to see an older heroine as she is 28 in this novel. I also liked Sir Phillip as a hero. He is awkward and thinks he is a terrible dad. He basically has had a rough go of things. I really liked his “I’m a bad parent and I want to fix that” plot line.
I am typically not the biggest fan of children in romance novels, but I actually really liked the kids in this story. But, maybe this is just because I like prank wars? I lowkey got Sound of Music vibes with some of their interactions with Eloise.
As always, I was hyped when the Bridgerton family showed up. This novel feels a bit isolated from the rest of the family since they are not in London. There are also Benedict and Sophie cameos which were delightful.
I do want to say that, the way suicide/depression is handled in this is not great. I know in “history” they were not super aware of all that, but Phillip lowkey blames his wife for dying by suicide? Not a great time.
Overall, I liked this one, but I wanted a better story for my fave Eloise. I loved her as a narrator, but the plot just wasn’t my favorite? 3/5 stars
*intermission* This first four books in this write up were all read veryyyy close together. The rest were spaced out.
When He Was Wicked – Francesca’s Book
1820 & 1824
TW: death of spouse, miscarriage
Plot: When Michael saw Francesca Bridgerton for the first time it was love at first sight, but it was her wedding to his cousin/best friend John. So, he has hidden these emotions for years, especially as they become friends. After a tragedy, Francesca is suddenly available and slowly feelings start to grow on both sides.
Going into this novel I was a bit hesitant that I would not enjoy it since I did not know Francesca. She does not get much page time and part of the reason I’ve enjoyed these books so much is that I love the Bridergton family. But, I should’ve known that Francesca and Michael would win me over.
I still loved the Bridergton family and wish they got more page time. Only Violet and Colin are around (aside from some background moments). But I loved both Violet and Colin in this one!! Kate also has a cameo which was fab bc I love her.
This one features angst and pining on both sides which I enjoyed. Both of them are fighting feelings and trying to stop them. I’m noticing that JQ parallels the hero and the heroine’s emotions and journeys which is always a fun time. Both of our characters are witty, and their banter is fun. I am also learning I am trash for the “helping their love interest through an illness” trope even though that could not be me!!
There are a few questionable moments and comments about Michaels time in India and there is even mention of an Indian themed ball which was yikes.
I also did not like the timeline here. Books 4, 5, & 6 (this one) take places at basically the same time which was kind of annoying. But I did like that Francesca and Eloise are literally opposites which is fun and make their books stand apart.
There is a conversation about consent that is way better than anything JQ wrote in the earlier novels which is so nice to see. I also enjoyed that Francesca is not a virgin because it was getting to be a bit much since all the heroines have been virgins thus far. 3.5/5 stars
It’s In His Kiss – Hyacinth’s Book
TW: verbal abuse from parent
Plot: Gareth finds an old journal from his paternal grandmother and after a few chance encounters (but was it really Lady Danbury pushing them together??!) asks Hyacinth Bridgerton to translate it for him since he can’t read Italian. Hyacinth agrees because she is curious about Gareth and likes a challenge. Neither of them expects to enjoy the other’s company so much.
I honestly was a bit surprised how much I enjoyed this one. Hyacinth and Gareth are both great characters and I loved their dynamic. Both of them feel like they don’t fit in with the rest of society and both have reputations. However, they find themselves drawn to each other and then don’t feel so alone when they are together. Which is a trope that I LOVE.
I’m a sucker for banter and Hyacinth and Gareth’s is top notch and we also get antics?? Like they break into his father’s house multiple times and Hyacinth is just such a force. She is always roasting Gareth, and he is just bewildered but also into it.
The entire book is just
Hyacinth: HYACINTH YES
Gareth: HYACINTH NOOO
Gareth two seconds later: FINE also ILY
As always, I adored the Bridgerton cameos. Violet is such a lovely mom and I love anytime she gives her kids advice and is just on page. The lunch scene is so much fun. I appreciated how it contrasts with Gareth not having a family and just getting absorbed by this one.
My main critique is that the ending was a bit too quick. I was happy how things resolved themselves and was satisfied, but I wanted a bit more before the epilogue.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I’m not sure if it is because I haven’t read a Bridgerton book in a hot second, but either way I had such a fun time with this one. 4/5 stars
On the Way to the Wedding – Gregory’s Book
TW: death of a parent (off page),
Plot: Gregory falls in love the instant he sees Hermione Watson. Hermione is Lucy’s best friend. Lucy is tired of seeing men throw themselves at Hermione, especially since Hermione is in love with a commoner. Lucy is practical and wants to make Hermione realize that she should be marrying someone of a higher rank, like Gregory. Lucy tries to help wingman Gregory into Hermione’s favor, but nothing goes as planned.
I really liked the beginning of this one, but the ending and how everything wrapped up was not my favorite. I also didn’t like the epilogue.
The friendship between Lucy and Hermione was also written weird. Friendship isn’t a huge theme of the Bridgerton novels, and I did not feel like it was very realistic. At one point I wrote I my notes, “are these girls even friends?”. It felt like a lot of telling instead of showing of their relationship which left it feeling flat. I understand being apprehensive of your friend’s choices and wanting to caution them, but also they both just don’t seem to get the other.
I did really like Lucy. Her and Gregory throw a lot of sarcasm back and forth which was a joy to read. But, they also have a ton of cute internal moments thinking about the other. Lucy has a moment where she gets lost in his smile which was very cute.
Obviously, love the Bridgertons and we got a TON of Kate and Anthony which was my favorite. Their story was my favorite & I’m hyped for season 2 of the show. Also, Hyacinth is excellent as always.
The thing about these Bridgerton books is even if I’m not enjoying the plot, the character’s banter and the characters themselves keep me invested. But, I don’t think I would reread this one again.
The ending of this novel/the final “drama” was not my fave and resulted in some dumb actions of both the characters. 3/5 stars
AND WE DID IT! If you made it this far, THANK YOU!
Have you read the Bridgerton books? Do you have any historical romance recommendations for me?