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So, you watched all of “Bridgerton” and now you’re hungry for more sexy, sexy Regency romance in your life? The best place to start, then, would be Julia Quinn’s series of eight novels upon which the Netflix hit is based.
The eight books, which came out between 2000 and 2006 and have sold millions of copies in the U.S. alone, focus on the romantic lives of the well-off (and well-intentioned) Bridgerton siblings (yes, there are eight of them, with each one getting his or her own book). The first in the series is “The Duke & I,” which, like the first season of the show, follows eldest daughter Daphne Bridgerton and her romance with the Duke of Hastings, Simon Basset.
For more on how the Bridgerton novels made it to the screen, check out Executive Editor Ann Donahue’s thorough explainer on the books, the series, and everything else “Bridgerton” here.
But if you’re ready to read more about the expansive Bridgerton family and all of their sexy adventures, here’s a quick guide to the novels and where you can purchase them. (A bundle of the first three books on Kindle is available for $14.99, if you already know that you’re going to devour them quickly and want to save a few bucks.)
The book that started it all, and the one from which season 1 of “Bridgerton” takes most of its cues. Here’s the official summary:
‘Can there be any greater challenge to London’s Ambitious Mamas than an unmarried duke?’ —Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, April 1813
By all accounts, Simon Basset is on the verge of proposing to his best friend’s sister — the lovely and almost-on-the-shelf—Daphne Bridgerton. But the two of them know the truth — it’s all an elaborate ruse to keep Simon free from marriage-minded society mothers. And as for Daphne, surely she will attract some worthy suitors now that it seems a duke has declared her desirable.
But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, it’s hard to remember that their courtship is a sham. Maybe it’s his devilish smile, certainly it’s the way his eyes seem to burn every time he looks at her . . . but somehow Daphne is falling for the dashing duke . . . for real! And now she must do the impossible and convince the handsome rogue that their clever little scheme deserves a slight alteration, and that nothing makes quite as much sense as falling in love.
Book two follows Anthony, the eldest Bridgerton (who frustratingly meddled in Daphne’s life so much as she slowly fell in love with the Duke in Season 1). Per the official summary:
‘1814 promises to be another eventful season, but not, This Author believes, for Anthony Bridgerton, London’s most elusive bachelor, who has shown no indication that he plans to marry. And in all truth, why should he? When it comes to playing the consummate rake, nobody does it better…’ —Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, April 1814
But this time the gossip columnists have it wrong. Anthony Bridgerton hasn’t just decided to marry — he’s even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended’s older sister, Kate Sheffield — the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate’s the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams…
Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do not make the best husbands — and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate’s determined to protect her sister — but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony’s lips touch hers, she’s suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself…
The second-eldest Bridgerton, Benedict (a.k.a. the arty one without the sideburns) embarks on a new relationship in the third novel of the series. The official summary:
Sophie Beckett never dreamed she’d be able to sneak into Lady Bridgerton’s famed masquerade ball — or that “Prince Charming” would be waiting there for her! Though the daughter of an earl, Sophie has been relegated to the role of servant by her disdainful stepmother. But now, spinning in the strong arms of the debonair and devastatingly handsome Benedict Bridgerton, she feels like royalty. Alas, she knows all enchantments must end when the clock strikes midnight.
Ever since that magical night, a radiant vision in silver has blinded Benedict to the attractions of any other — except, perhaps, this alluring and oddly familiar beauty dressed in housemaid’s garb whom he feels compelled to rescue from a most disagreeable situation. He has sworn to find and wed his mystery miss, but this breathtaking maid makes him weak with wanting her. Yet, if he offers her his heart, will Benedict sacrifice his only chance for a fairy tale love?
The relationship between Colin, the third Bridgerton child, and sweet next-door neighbor Penelope Featherington is explored further in the fourth of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton novels. The summary:
Penelope Featherington has secretly adored her best friend’s brother for . . . well, it feels like forever. After half a lifetime of watching Colin Bridgerton from afar, she thinks she knows everything about him, until she stumbles across his deepest secret . . . and fears she doesn’t know him at all.
Colin Bridgerton is tired of being thought of as nothing but an empty-headed charmer, tired of the notorious gossip columnist Lady Whistledown, who can’t seem to publish an edition without mentioning him. But when Colin returns to London from a trip abroad, he discovers nothing in his life is quite the same — especially Penelope Featherington! The girl who was always simply there is suddenly the girl haunting his dreams. When he discovers that Penelope has secrets of her own, this elusive bachelor must decide . . . is she his biggest threat — or his promise of a happy ending?
Although Daphne’s younger sister Eloise seemed headed down a path of independence and academia in the first book/season, there’s still room for romance in this fifth book. The summary:
She wrote him a letter…and he stole her heart.
Sir Phillip knew that Eloise Bridgerton was a spinster, and so he’d proposed, figuring that she’d be homely and unassuming, and more than a little desperate for an offer of marriage. Except . . . she wasn’t. The beautiful woman on his doorstep was anything but quiet, and when she stopped talking long enough to close her mouth, all he wanted to do was kiss her . . . and more.
Did he think she was mad? Eloise Bridgerton couldn’t marry a man she had never met! But then she started thinking . . . and wondering . . . and before she knew it, she was in a hired carriage in the middle of the night, on her way to meet the man she hoped might be her perfect match. Except . . . he wasn’t. Her perfect husband wouldn’t be so moody and ill-mannered, and while Phillip was certainly handsome, he was a large brute of a man, rough and rugged, and totally unlike the London gentlemen vying for her hand. But when he smiled . . . and when he kissed her . . . the rest of the world simply fell away, and she couldn’t help but wonder . . . could this imperfect man be perfect for her?
Youngest Bridgertons Francesca and Hyacinth aren’t old enough for romantic entanglements in the first season of the show, but by the time the sixth book comes around enough time has passed that it’s not weird (promise). The summary:
In every life there is a turning point . . .
A moment so tremendous, so sharp and breathtaking, that one knows one’s life will never be the same. For Michael Stirling, London’s most infamous rake, that moment came the first time he laid eyes on Francesca Bridgerton.
After a lifetime of chasing women, of smiling slyly as they chased him, of allowing himself to be caught but never permitting his heart to become engaged, he took one look at Francesca Bridgerton and fell so fast and hard into love it was a wonder he managed to remain standing. Unfortunately for Michael, however, Francesca’s surname was to remain Bridgerton for only a mere thirty-six hours longer—the occasion of their meeting was, lamentably, a supper celebrating her imminent wedding to his cousin.
But that was then . . . Now Michael is the earl and Francesca is free, but still she thinks of him as nothing other than her dear friend and confidant. Michael dares not speak to her of his love . . . until one dangerous night, when she steps innocently into his arms and passion proves stronger than even the most wicked of secrets . . .
Little Hyacinth is the baby of the Bridgerton family, but in the seventh book of the series she’s grown up and ready for love. The summary:
Meet Our Hero . . .
Gareth St. Clair is in a bind. His father, who detests him, is determined to beggar the St. Clair estates and ruin his inheritance. Gareth’s sole bequest is an old family diary, which may or may not contain the secrets of his past . . . and the key to his future. The problem is—it’s written in Italian, of which Gareth speaks not a word.
Meet Our Heroine . . .
All the ton agreed: there was no one quite like Hyacinth Bridgerton. She’s fiendishly smart, devilishly outspoken, and according to Gareth, probably best in small doses. But there’s something about her—something charming and vexing—that grabs him and won’t quite let go . . .
Meet Poor Mr. Mozart . . .
Or don’t. But rest assured, he’s spinning in his grave when Gareth and Hyacinth cross paths at the annual—and annually discordant—Smythe-Smith musicale. To Hyacinth, Gareth’s every word seems a dare, and she offers to translate his diary, even though her Italian is slightly less than perfect. But as they delve into the mysterious text, they discover that the answers they seek lie not in the diary, but in each other . . . and that there is nothing as simple—or as complicated—as a single, perfect kiss.
Finally, young Gregory Bridgerton gets his story in the final novel of the original Bridgerton series (of course, there are epilogues and spin-offs to explore next — but that’s a whole other topic). The summary of the eighth book:
Unlike most men of his acquaintance, Gregory Bridgerton believes in true love. And he is convinced that when he finds the woman of his dreams, he will know in an instant that she is the one. And that is exactly what happened. Except …
She wasn’t the one. In fact, the ravishing Miss Hermione Watson is in love with another. But her best friend, the ever-practical Lady Lucinda Abernathy, wants to save Hermione from a disastrous alliance, so she offers to help Gregory win her over. But in the process, Lucy falls in love. With Gregory! Except …
Lucy is engaged. And her uncle is not inclined to let her back out of the betrothal, even once Gregory comes to his senses and realizes that it is Lucy, with her sharp wit and sunny smile, who makes his heart sing. And now, on the way to the wedding, Gregory must risk everything to ensure that when it comes time to kiss the bride, he is the only man standing at the altar …