Once you’ve read Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton books in order, and devoured the new episodes of Bridgerton Season 2, what’s next? Well, here are a few books on my list – both fiction and non-fiction – to whet your appetite whilst we wait for Bridgerton Seasons 3 and 4.
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
An obvious one to begin, but Bridgerton Season 2 seemed to have so much of a feel of Pride and Prejudice, and take some cues from period drama adaptations of Jane Austen’s 1813 novel, from Anthony’s wet shirt to an almost-hand flex as Kate and Anthony pass each other in a hallway that recall both Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen’s Darcys respectively.
Austen’s novel (and my favourite book of all time) follows the quintessential enemies-to-lovers romance of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, with sisterhood, romance, deception and scandal all gracing the pages. And then, when you’ve finished Pride and Prejudice, perhaps start on Austen’s five other complete novels…
Plus, don’t miss my list of Jane Austen-related books to read…
Martha Waters, To Have and to Hoax
The first in Waters’ The Regency Vows series, this book follows a sweepingly romantic marriage with a very quick fallout… Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley fell in love practically at first sight and married very quickly five years ago. Four years ago, they had an explosive argument and have barely uttered a word to each other since then. When Violet is called to James’ side after a riding accident, and he seems surprised that she might still care, she seems determined to make him have a taste of his own medicine.
A fake illness, a great cast of friends that form the future novels in the series, and a hero and heroine with a magnetic attraction, this is a wonderful Regency romance that I devoured in basically one sitting.
Hannah Greig, The Beau Monde: Fashionable Society in Georgian London
Dr Hannah Greig is historical adviser to not only Bridgerton, but has also worked on Poldark, The Favourite, The Duchess and Sanditon, to name but a few. This book is her history of the beau monde, or the bon ton: the real life Regency society Bridgerton is based in. Greig’s research is impeccable and fascinating, and takes you through the court, fashions, places to be seen in London, what happened when a true scandal happened and politics of the period. It’s one of my favourite history books of this period.
Georgette Heyer, Venetia
Georgette Heyer is the pinnacle of Regency romance writers, and arguable established Regency romance as a genre. I have read shamefully few of her novels (which also cover other periods of history), which she published across a long writing career between the 1920s and 1970s, which I’m now working to correct. I’ve previously written about her wonderful novel The Grand Sophy here, but Venetia is next on my list.
Venetia Lanyon is a twenty-five year old who has never travelled further than her hometown of Harrogate, where she is being courted by two particularly boring suitors she is highly disinterested in. Then, in a chance meeting, she comes across her neighbour Jasper Damerel (what a great name!) – though only now encountering him, his rakish reputation precedes him, and he suddenly becomes a very exciting prospect.
Bea Koch, Mad & Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency
Bea Koch’s book is perfect for anyone who wants to read about the real women who populated Regency society: and not just the wealthy, white, Christian women who often fill traditional Regency romances. Instead, Koch delves into the history of female scientists, women of colour, Jewish women and women in the LGBTQ community, highlighting the fascinating and diverse history of this period.
I recently picked up this book and am relishing reading it on my next trip!
Suzanne Allain, Mr Malcolm‘s List
In a move reminiscent of the first episode of Bridgerton Season 2, when, accompanied by a list, Anthony Bridgerton interviews prospective wives of the ton, Suzanne Allain’s novel follows the handsome and wealthy Mr Malcolm and the list of qualities he desires in a future wife. Everybody has fallen short… that is, until Selena Dalton arrives in town.
But what Mr Malcolm doesn’t realise is that Selena is part of a plot to exact revenge upon him: she is the daughter of a vicar, a woman of limited means, and she puts on a show of every item on his list, orchestrated by her friend Julia. Of course, sparks fly, and soon Selena has her own reasons to deceive Mr Malcolm.
What is especially exciting about this novel is the upcoming adaptation! We all know I’ll be writing excessively about it on the blog in a couple of months time, but yesterday they released new stills of what promises to be an excellent movie! Directed by Emma Holly Jones, and starring Frieda Pinto and Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, it began life as a short film before expanding to a full, feature length that will be out in the summer.
Julia Quinn, Because of Miss Bridgerton
I couldn’t leave Julia Quinn’s other novels off this list. Because, once you’ve devoured the Bridgerton books in order (and read the Epilogue chapters!), you can start on the numerous other series Quinn has penned! I’m beginning with this series, which is a Bridgerton prequel called The Rokesbys.
The Bridgerton and the Rokesby families have been neighbours for hundreds of years, and when it is time for Billie Bridgerton to find a husband, everyone expects her to marry one of the Rokesby family. Billie is fine with this, along as the Rokesby intended for her isn’t George. Billie and George have never gotten along, and even his status as the oldest son, due to inherit an earldom, doesn’t make him more attractive in her eyes.
Yet, in another enemies-to-lovers romance (I cannot get enough of them…), when Billie and George are thrown together in circumstances anew, sparks fly in ways they haven’t before and has them questioning why exactly they do hate each other…
Lex Croucher, Reputation
Lex Croucher’s Regency romance novel is so fun and brilliantly hilarious. Poor Georgiana Ellers has been abandoned by her parents, who leave her to live with her frightfully dull uncle and aunt, in a new place where she knows nothing and nobody.
This soon changes when she, quite by accident, befriends the vivacious Frances Campbell at a dinner party. Frances brings Georgiana into the in-crowd, and all the gossip, debauchery and handsome men that comes with this soon moves beyond fun to have Georgiana questioning exactly what the attraction of high society is in the first place.
Croucher also has a new novel coming out in July 2022, Infamous, which I can’t wait to read.
Of course, these suggestions are just scratching the surface of the Regency romance genre and Regency history – I could write posts upon posts on this subject! Share with me your favourites in the comments below!