How to read the Bridgerton books in order

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Causing a stir when it dropped over Christmas 2020, Netflix’s steamy period romance drama Bridgerton from Shonda Rhimes has gone on to be one of the streaming service’s most-watched shows.

Now, it’s back for a second season and promises to pick up where the first left off. For the uninitiated, the lavish Regency-set series is best described as a hybrid between gossip-girl and Pride and Prejudice.

While the first series followed the story of Daphne Bridgerton’s scheme to avoid a loveless marriage with a fake romance with the Duke of Hastings, the second follows Daphne’s brother, Lord Anthony Bridgerton, on his quest for a suitable wife.

The series is once again narrated by Lady Whistledown, a mysterious member of London’s high society who writes a regular column detailing the gossip from the coming-out season – and whose identity was revealed at the end of the last series.

The contemporary production includes drama, diverse casting and the exploration of topics such as gender equality and sexual orientation. Even the music follows suit in its own cross-genre way, the soundtrack is decidedly modern – the classical versions of pop songs, such as Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” and Billie Eilish’s “bad guy” juxtaposed over the buttoned-up social interactions of Regency London in the last series makes the show that little bit more charming.

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And we’ve got romance novelist Julia Quinn to thank for penning the very books that inspired the show, the second book, The Viscount Who Loved Me, was published in 2006 and begins in 1814 with Anthony searching for a wife to continue the family lineage.

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If you’ve binge-watched the first series and can’t wait for the second, then why not work your way through these novels – they are sure to fill the void.

‘The Duke and I’ by Julia Quinn, published by Piaktus

The very book that inspired the show, The Duke and I tells the love story of the oldest daughter of the Bridgerton family, Daphne, and the Duke of Hastings, Simon Bassett. The pair befriend one another and enter a fake courtship in order for her to strike the interest of more suitors and for him to escape the eagle eyes of ambitious society mothers. Real feelings develop and Daphne and Simon quickly realize they want their ruse to become a reality.

‘The Viscount Who Loved Me’ by Julia Quinn, published by Little, Brown Book Group

The second installation in Quinn’s series – and the source material behind the new season – focuses on Anthony Bridgerton, who has been head of the family ever since his father died – taking care of all responsibilities, except for finding himself a wife, opting instead to be London’s most eligible bachelor. He decides it’s time to settle down and find a suitable match, but under one condition that he can’t love her. After finding the perfect candidate he becomes more interested in her sister, Kate, who provides a very welcome distraction. It’s a story of love, as well as one of the impacts of grief, loss and trauma.

‘An Offer From A Gentleman’ by Julia Quinn, published by Little, Brown Book Group

The second-eldest Bridgerton, Benedict falls in love with Sophie Beckett at his family’s costume ball, but their dreamy dalliance is cut short when Sophie leaves at midnight. Following a chance encounter two years later, their romance picks up eleven more. In this classic Cinderella tale with a twist, Quinn delves into issues of social class.

Romancing Mister Bridgerton’ by Julia Quinn, published by HarperCollins

Set in 1824, 11 years after the first novel, at age 28 wallflower Penelope Featherington is now considered a spinster. But when Colin, the third Bridgerton child, returns from abroad, an eleven platonic relationship has the potential to be turned into something more. The best bit of all? Quinn finally reveals the identity of the mysterious Lady Whistledown.

‘To Sir Phillip, With Love’ by Julia Quinn, published by Piaktus Books

Following multiple rejections, Eloise Bridgerton is considered a spinster, but unlike her siblings, this does not bother her much. After spending a year exchanging letters with Sir Philip, a widower and distant relative of her, he asks her for her hand of her in marriage. The only issue is they’ve never met in person.

‘When He Was Wicked’ by Julia Quinn, published by HarperCollins

A more intense and deeper novel than the others in the series, When He Was Wicked is the story of Michael Stirling who finally meets the woman who he wants to marry, Francesca Bridgerton, the only issue is she married his cousin. Years later, Francesca is widowed and Michael has another chance.

‘It’s in His Kiss’ by Julia Quinn, published by Piaktus Books

Centered around the most outspoken and intelligent of the Bridgerton daughters, Hyacinth, It’s in His Kiss tells the story of her relationship with Gareth St. Clair. The pair often find themselves at odds until a mysterious old family diary brings them together. Expect a love story with plenty of sarcasm and quick-witted lines.

‘On the Way to the Wedding’ by Julia Quinn, published by Piaktus Books

Winning the 2007 RITA Award for best long historical romance, On the Way to the Wedding is the final entry in Quinn’s Bridgerton series. Gregory Bridgerton, a true romantic, finds himself in a love triangle when he recruits Lucy to help him win her her best friend Hermione. But in the process, Lucy and Gregory fall in love, but it’s a little too late because Lucy is at the alter.

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If this doesn’t satiate your lust for literature, delve into our edit of the best fiction books of 2021

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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