Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:
Synopsis for The Duke and I (from Goodreads):
In the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, rules abound. From their earliest days, children of aristocrats learn how to address an earl and curtsey before a prince—while other dictates of the ton are unspoken yet universally understood. A proper duke should be imperious and aloof. A young, marriageable lady should be amiable… but not too amiable.
Daphne Bridgerton has always failed at the latter. The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, she has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her. She is simply too deuced honest for that, too unwilling to play the romantic games that captivate gentlemen.
Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society—just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar.
The plan works like a charm—at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule…
Series: The Bridgertons
There is a prequel Series: The Rokesbys & a series of Lady Whistledown Stories
Author: Julia Quinn
# of Books: 8 (Full Reading Order Here)
There are also 2nd epilogue novellas for each novel.
Book Order: Connected
Genre: Adult, Regency, Historical Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2000 – June 2006
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook
Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:
Although I am a huge regency romance fan, I had never read the Bridgerton Series. Truthfully, like many people, it never crossed my radar until Netflix made the TV series. I nearly binged all the episodes in one sitting but controlled myself (and finished it within a reasonable 2 days). I loved watching these siblings on the TV series and just couldn’t get enough! And thanks to its massive popularity, my library soon got all the audiobooks and I quickly found my next audio series to read. Plus, I was impatient to see where these character stories would go.
How it Compares to the TV Series:
I’m sure most people who will be reading this series are doing so because of the Netflix TV Series. Since the first season is based on the first book, The Duke and I, I was a little worried the book would be a regurgitation of the TV show.
And while some scenes are very similar, they’ve also added a lot more plotlines to the TV show (like the whole meeting the Queen bit and anything to do with the Queen really) to make it, well, a show. But I’d say the TV series has captured the essence of the books and that’s all you can ask for really. Time will tell what the second season will be like but I think they did a great job with the adaption so far.
The first 3 books are your classic Regency reads, with a few loose retellings of some classic tales like The Taming of the Shrew (Book #2) and Cinderella (Book #3), thrown in for inspiration. They’re a little lighter and have a few laughs along the way. Lady Whistledown’s character (and her anonymity) helps to keep that dramatic flare of the ton alive while also maintaining an overarching plot line to thread the individual books together. I just thought they were a lot of fun to read.
I think Book #4, Romancing Mister Bridgerton, is the book that the entire series has been leading up to. We’re on the cusp of revealing who Lady Whistledown is and I think the romance that everyone (or maybe just me) has been anticipating since the first novel/episode is the focus. It’s probably my favourite of the series.
But once the identity of Lady Whistledown is revealed, I find the remaining books in the series lose that lighter side to them. To Sir Philip, With Love (#5) has a darker, somber edge to it. And while it is a touching book to read, I missed the rest of the meddling Bridgerton Brood and the always watching Lady Whistledown. I also think this was the book where my experience with the TV show dampened my reading experience. I find Eloise’s character to be very different between the two mediums, so I think I was expecting a different type of story here.
That somber tone continues on in When He Was Wicked (#6) and I felt like that was when my interest in the series started to wane. I really struggled with this story for a few reason. One: is that timeline jumps around a bit between books #4 and #5 so I got a little lost there. Two: is that the lead is a Bridgerton we don’t really know much about other than a few key pieces (so I didn’t really know what to expect). Three–and perhaps the biggest reason–is that I really struggled with the romance. I just found it to be a little off-putting because it is a complicated situation and I didn’t really enjoy that aspect (more below). It also has that somber tone to it that I don’t enjoy but on Goodreads, people seem to adore this book so maybe I’m just a minority here.
The last two books in the series I enjoyed a little more, but again, I think I wanted slightly different stories. I actually think the plots should be switched for the last two novels in some ways.
I love all the Bridgertons. I just think they are so much fun and I love how much they love their family. It’s touching to see. You really get invested in all their lives.
I would say most of these books have a slow burn romance. These characters really take their time to fall in love and fight the inevitable. But I thought all the pairs were great matches.
However, I did struggle with the romance in When He was Wicked (#5). For those who don’t know who the lead is in this book I’ve put my thoughts in as spoilers:
When He was Wicked (Book #5) Spoilers
I honestly was excited for Francesca’s story because she is the enigma of the Bridgertons. All we know is that she was a young widow. I’m not one of those people who believes you can’t find love after the death of a beloved spouse/partner so I was looking forward to her finding love again. However, while I liked Michael objectively as a character, I didn’t like the idea that he has always been in love with Frannie. And I felt like Frannie was having an emotional affair with Michael while she was married to John by asking him about all his wicked encounters with women–I dunno, the whole thing just felt icky to me. Maybe if they both fell in love after John’s death I wouldn’t have struggled with that as much.
The Second Epilogues:
What a fun treat these were! They were great ways to wrap up each character arc and gives a glimpse into the very far future in some instances. I love a good, wrapped up conclusion!
My Audiobook Experience:
We have the same narrator throughout the series and I thought she did a great job. She has a great way of injecting humour and emotion into her reading. She really brought the characters to life for me.
Series Rating: 4/5
The Duke and I 4/5 | The Viscount Who Loved Me 5/5 | An Offer from a Gentleman 5/5 | Romancing Mr. Bridgerton 5/5 | To Sir Philip, With Love 4/5 | When He Was Wicked 2/5 | It’s in His Kiss 3/5 | On the Way to the Wedding 3/5
Fans of the show will like spending extra time with their favourite family. Fans of regency reads will enjoy this classic delivery. I do think the series loses some of its original charm as it concludes but all the stories are entertaining nonetheless.
Read if You Like: historical romances, books featuring siblings
Avoid if You: dislike historical romances
- The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare (Girl Meets Duke Series #1)
- Slightly Married by Mary Balogh (Bedwyn Saga #1)
- A Duke in the Night by Kelly Bowen (The Devils of Dover Series #1)
- Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks (The Montgomerys and The Armstrongs Series #1)