With its lavish costuming, opulent sets, and stellar soundtrack, Bridgerton has been dubbed “Netflix’s answer to Downton Abbey“—albeit with racier romance elements. The television show is adapted from Julia Quinn’s New York Times-bestselling novels The Duke & I and The Viscount That Loved Me—the first two installments of a series that follows the eight siblings of the affluent Bridgerton family as they navigate treacherous social currents in search of romance in Regency-era London. If you’ve watched the show, read the books, and still find yourself hungry for more just like it, then we have some suggestions.
The first installment of Dare’s ‘Girl Meets Duke’ series follows the unconventional marriage between the wealthy Duke of Ashbury and an unassuming vicar’s daughter and seamstress, Emma Gladstone. Having recently returned from the Napoleonic Wars, the brooding Duke finds himself in need of an heir—and he finds Emma in his library he decides that she’ll do. The rule is: no emotion. No questions, no feelings, and certainly no love. But this brooding Duke meets his match in his newly appointed wife, who is equally headstrong and possesses her own set of rules. Dare’s novel comes recommended by Julia Quinn herself, who has described it as “warm and funny,” and—just like the Bridgerton books—it has just the right balance of froth and darkness.
In The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels, the first book in the ‘Dangerous Damsels’ series, India Holton transports readers into a world of exorbitant historical romance, brimming with thieves, pirates, and assassins. Protagonist Cecilia Bassingwaite appears to the world as the ideal Victorian lady, but what no one knows is that she is a member of the Wisteria Society—a criminal organisation of female thieves. All is well until the villainous Captain Morvath declares underground war on the Wisteria Society, seeking to root out its community of insolent women. But when his hired assassin Ned Lightbourne finds himself inexplicably drawn to Cecilia, it soon becomes clear that the women of the Wisteria Society will not be so easily disbanded. Pitched as “Bridgerton meets Peaky Blinders,” The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels has found a huge, young fanbase on TikTok, and was featured in the New York Times‘ list of notable books of 2021.
Originally published in 1950 and having now sold over 30 million copies, Georgette Heyer’s The Grand Sophy is a must-read book for anyone who liked Bridgerton. The story follows Sophy, daughter of Sir Horace Station-Lacy, who is sent to live with her aunt and cousins in London after her father’s departure to South America on business. Upon arrival in Berkeley Square Sophy is shocked at the sad state of affairs that her cousins find themselves in. Cecilia is besotted with a thoughtless poet; Hubert has fallen out of favour with a foul-tempered moneylender and the Ombersley’s heir Charles is in an unhappy engagement. But as Sophy endeavours to resolve her cousins’ misfortunes, she finds herself obstructed at every hurdle by Charles, who resents her involvement. This humorous Regency romance is a story of intrigue, love, and the resilience of the human spirit.
Bringing Down the Duke was Evie Dunmore’s 2019 debut and the first novel in her ‘League of Extraordinary Women’ series. Set in England, 1879, Annabelle Archer is the fiercely independent daughter of a country vicar. Having earned herself a scholarship at the University of Oxford, Annabelle is a part of the university’s first female cohort. The only condition of her scholarship is that she recruits men of influence to the cause of the suffragists. Annabelle sets her sights on Sebastian Devereux, Duke of Montgomery and a prominent political figure who holds immense sway with the Queen. This cold, taciturn Duke proves a challenge—appalled by everything that Annabelle stands for. Nevertheless, this unlikely pair are undeniably drawn to each other, and soon the two find themselves locked in a battle of powerful wills and equally powerful love.
If you were drawn to Bridgerton for the scandal and melodrama of Regency London’s high society look no further. Lady Worsley’s Whim is a retelling of true events by the historian and author Hallie Rubenhold. Originally published in 2007, the book—a biography that reads like a novel—gained huge popularity following a 2015 BBC adaptation starring Natalie Dormer. The story centres around the spirited heiress Lady Seymour Dorothy Fleming who is married to the handsome baronet Sir Richard Worsley. Their marriage has the potential to be the stuff of fairy tales, but Sir Richards perversions and Lady Worsley’s free spirit turn out to be a match made in hell—ending in one of the most salacious and highly-publicised divorces in history. Like Bridgerton, this book offers an insider view of Georgian high society that promises to shock even the modern reader with its colourful nature.
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