Series Review: Bridgertons (+ Thoughts on Each Book)

September 14, 2020


I read the entire Bridgerton series years ago, when I wasn’t yet involved in the online book community and when it was harder for me to acquire books since I was still living in the Philippines. But I persisted and succeeded in completing the series eventually, and I have fond memories of reading (and rereading) (and rereading) these books! When it was announced that Shondaland had acquired the series for a Netflix show production, I pretty much lost my mind and have been anticipating that show ever since. To satiate my Bridgerton craving, I thought it would be fun to revisit the books while I waited… and I was right!

I love the Bridgerton clan. I’m partial to stories that have big families and seeing as how the Bridgertons include nine individuals (Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory, Hyacinth and their mother Violet), they certainly qualify. I appreciate the way that Quinn managed to keep the group of siblings very distinct from one another (which, granted, is helped along by each one having a novel of their own). But, more importantly, I loved the way she portrayed their different relationships with one another and their mother. There’s something special about the way she captures the nuances of each one on the page, and it really holds up on a reread.

Also, the books are mostly romantic comedies. I can never stop myself from laughing out loud when I’m reading a Bridgerton book, and that proved even more true upon my reread. There are plenty of ridiculous scenarios and over the top shenanigans, with witty repartee and dry commentary to match. But there is also a sweetness to the way the romances fall into place, paired with passionate feelings and swoon-worthy encounters. It’s the perfect blend of everything I love, and it shaped my own perceptions of what romance can be like.

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Since I’ve never been able to share my thoughts per book before now, I thought it’d be fun to do that here as well. Please note that these reviews require a spoiler warning, as I mention which Bridgerton sibling the book is about and who their love interest is.

The series begins with The Duke & I, a charming introduction to the Bridgerton family. This novel centers around the eldest sister Daphne, who is still looking for a potential match and has the unfortunate circumstance of being seen by a chum as many of the tonne. Enter Simon Bassett, the Duke of Hastings, who has no desire to be matchmade by scheming mamas and daughters. The two strike a bargain: Simon will pretend to woo Daphne, which will then raise her appeal to other suitors and get all those matchmakers off his back. As you can imagine, their plan doesn’t quite work out as they intended when they both start catching feelings… I still really loved The Duke & I. I had forgotten how much I liked Daphne and Simon both, and watching their romance blossom was just a delight. This novel really sets the stage and tone well for the rest of the series too! I will say that there is an aspect of the tale that I fully recognize isn’t okay at all (it’s an issue with consent), but I still definitely enjoyed the book overall.

The second book, The Viscount Who Loved Me, is the love story of one of my favorite Bridgertons, eldest brother Anthony. Deeply affected by his father’s death and the knowledge that he too will die young, Anthony has decided it’s time for him to get married and produce an heir… without falling in love with his carefully chosen wife. While he has his eye on the star of the current London season, he has one obstacle to face… said girl’s elder sister Kate, who is determined to ensure her sister’s happiness. Honestly, I had underplayed in my mind how fun this installment is! Not only are there plenty of humorous moments (Pall Mall match, anyone?) and witty remarks (Colin Bridgerton being a big culprit, though Kate Sheffield follows close behind), but the actual romance is *chef’s kiss* perfection. I was thoroughly entertained watching Anthony and Kate bicker and banter and fall in love and revisiting their love story was such a delight. It won’t surprise you to hear that this is one of my favorites in the series!

An Offer from a Gentleman is the third novel of the series, and one of the titles I remembered the least about. Benedict Bridgerton has yet to settle down, but his life is forever changed at his mother’s masquerade party when he meets a mysterious girl… only for the night to end without him ever finding out her identity. If you’re thinking this sounds very much like Cinderella, the novel does seem to draw some inspiration from that classic tale. Because I’d forgotten many of the actual details, it felt like I was reading this story for the first time (though I did know where it was going to end)! I was still very much charmed by the tale, particularly by the initial meeting between our couple. Much like its predecessors, it also managed to make me laugh (and even made me tear up). But honestly, the best part of the tale is our heroine Sophie, who is spunky, smart and stubborn and I was rooting for her to get her happy ending. It does wrap up rather quickly and paired with the fact that this novel didn’t give us a lot of time with the couple in an actual relationship, it didn’t necessarily hit my sweet spot. It was still a fun read though!

Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, the fourth novel in the series, has always been my favorite. That hasn’t changed upon my reread; in fact, my opinion of it has only been reinforced and my love reconfirmed. The story centers around one of my favorite couples in the series: Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton. Penelope is a wallflower who has made her peace with spinsterhood, since she knows she has no chance with the man she has loved for years. Said man happens to be Colin, third of the Bridgerton brothers, and the one constantly embarking on travel adventures to try to calm the restlessness of his spirit at not having a life’s purpose the way his brothers do. When Colin comes back for a full London season, their paths cross and both parties discover that they might not actually have known the truth of the other after all. I’ll leave it at that, though there is certainly more to the story. Honestly, I love this book in such a visceral way that it is a real challenge to try to explain it. There are many reasons that add up to my deep love for this story: my tendre for Colin (which has never wavered since the first time I read the series), my emotional identification with Penelope (which is primarily because I have always felt like a modern day wallflower), a particular interest these two share (that I also possess), the romance (which combines the girl falls in love with her best friend’s older brother trope with the seeing someone in a different light after years of knowing them trope), and my steady regard for the extended Bridgerton clan and their hijinks. Truly, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton just makes me so heart happy each time I read it, and it will likely continue to remain my favorite of this series for all time.

The fifth novel in this series, To Sir Phillip, With Love, is about the blossoming romance between Eloise Bridgerton and widower Phillip Crane. Their relationship begins with a letter Eloise sends expressing her condolences over his wife’s death, but blossoms as their correspondence continues beyond that initial missive. When Phillip proposes, Eloise decides to take it upon herself to go to his estate to see if they suit each other and if marriage is a true possibility for them. I’ve reread this one enough to remember most of the key scenes in it, but I’d forgotten how short the timeline for their relationship is (and I probably noticed more because I’m now reading it with the perspective of a married adult). I’d also forgotten that there is actually a heavier aspect to the tale (centering around Phillip’s wife and her death). It wasn’t a mark against this story, however, as it simply made the tale stand out more from the others. Apart from the emotionally heavy parts, it was mostly a cute, charming love story. There are ups (and boy, those are swoony), and there are downs (and boy, those are frustrating), and there are also plenty of shenanigans (in part due to Phillip’s children, and in part due to the rest of the Bridgerton clan). All in all, it was pretty enjoyable, though I must say that it actually moved lower on my ranking for the books in this series. 

When He Was Wicked, the sixth novel, begins with Francesca Bridgerton losing her beloved husband John to an unexpected health issue. She mourns his loss, and tries to connect with John’s cousin Michael, who is one of their closest friends and who has now taken John’s place as the family heir. But he keeps his distance, which is because he has had deep feelings for Francesca since the early days of her relationship with his cousin. But the two continue to find themselves drawn together, both by their mutual grief and by their growing feelings for one another. This is definitely my least favorite Bridgerton book, as it was a mostly uncomfortable reading experience. Michael and Francesca were both incredibly frustrating individuals, and their choices often made me want to give them a good, hard shake to get some sense into their heads (though I will allow that perhaps their grief didn’t help). I just didn’t feel very strongly about the outcome of their romance, which is the whole point of this novel in the first place. What did save this book for me was the presence of the rest of the Bridgerton clan, which is always a highlight in all these books. So, unfortunately, of all the books, this is the one I didn’t particularly enjoy (with the exception of a few moments).

The seventh book, It’s In His Kiss, is Hyacinth Bridgerton’s story, and it was delightful (and really made up for the previous book). Hyacinth may be the youngest of the Bridgerton clan, but her personality very much guarantees that she’s unforgettable. She has a standing weekly date to read out loud to the dowager countess, Lady Danbury, and that leads to her crossing paths with her grandson, Gareth St. Clair. They end up teaming up when Hyacinth offers to help him translate his other grandmother’s Italian diary, and end up looking into the things they discover within its pages. It’s such a fun, comical read, honestly, and I loved seeing these two headstrong, opinionated individuals butt heads time and again. It’s also really heartwarming to watch as a mutual respect develops between them, preceding an easy friendship, which precedes the growing attraction between the two. Their banter is lovely, their adventures are filled with shenanigans, and it was just wonderful to see them fall in love. I really love this book a lot, but it would be remiss of me not to mention that I absolutely do not approve of one aspect of this story (that centers around an intention Gareth has later on in the story, which also felt a little icky and gray). Still, it was a thoroughly entertaining read, and I’d still rank it highly among the books in the series!

The eighth and final book is On the Way to the Wedding, and features Gregory Bridgerton, the youngest of the Bridgerton brothers as our hero. After watching all his siblings fall madly in love, he believes that true love exists and that the girl of his dreams is out there. When he meets Hermione Watson, he thinks he’s found the one… except that she’s in love with someone else. Thankfully, with Hermione’s best friend Lucinda “Lucy” Abernathy on his side, he has a fair chance of winning her heart. Alas, fate and love have a funny way of turning out how you least expect it to - especially when you’re betrothed and shouldn’t be falling in love with someone else (Lucy) or you think you love someone but it turns out you might actually be into their best friend (Gregory). This story is just such a lovely way to end the series, featuring both a hero and a heroine who are extremely easy to like and root for and a budding relationship with the same qualities. Much like the other titles, there is a dash of humor, a lot of heart and plenty of hijinks to keep you entertained from beginning to end. And I, despite knowing what would happen next, totally ate it all up! It does include its fair share of dramatic situations that are just a touch over the top, but it is, all in all, a conclusion that manages to be a very solid bookend to a series I really enjoy.

Books in the Series:
The Duke & I | Pub Date: January 5, 2000 by Avon | Add it on Goodreads | Buy the book!
The Viscount Who Loved Me | Pub Date: December 5, 2000 by Avon | Add it on Goodreads | Buy the book!
An Offer from a Gentleman | Pub Date: July 1, 2001 by Avon | Add it on Goodreads | Buy the book!
Romancing Mr. Bridgerton | Pub Date: July 1, 2002 by Avon | Add it on Goodreads | Buy the book!
To Sir Phillip, With Love | Pub Date: July 1, 2003 by Avon | Add it on Goodreads | Buy the book!
When He Was Wicked | Pub Date: June 29, 2004 by Avon | Add it on Goodreads | Buy the book!
It's In His Kiss | Pub Date: June 28, 2005 by Avon | Add it on Goodreads | Buy the book!
On the Way to the Wedding | Pub Date: June 27, 2006 by Avon | Add it on Goodreads | Buy the book!

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