The Best Romance Novels If You Loved Bridgerton

Looking for a sweeping romance to tide you over until the second season of “Bridgerton” drops on Netflix? We suggest you turn to your local library for a little inspiration. After all, the steamy series, executive produced by Shonda Rhimes, is based on author Julia Quinn’s eight-book series of the same name. Of course, the debut season focuses on the first novel in the collection, “The Duke and I,” which outlines the faux engagement turned happy marriage of Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke of Hastings. And according to a recent Instagram post by the show’s narrator, Lady Whistledown, the second season will focus on the love quest of Lord Anthony Bridgerton as denoted in Quinn’s second book, “The Viscount Who Loved Me.” But perhaps you’ve already binged the novels and are looking for some new red hot Regency romances for your bedside table. Well, we’ve got you covered with three fabulous books so full of deceitful dukes, lush settings, and sultry singles, you’ll soon be saying, “Duke of Hastings, who?”

Cotillion by Georgette Heyer, 1953

This is an oldie but a must-read for anyone serious about delving into the world of Regency romance, which is defined as the British Regency period between 1795 and 1837 (via Reedsy Blog). Georgette Heyer is considered an OG master of the genre known for its quick-witted heroines, elaborate balls, and twisted societal conventions (via The Paris Review). This particular novel includes the best of the genre’s tropes by focusing on Kitty Charing’s would-be engagement to one of her guardian’s great-nephews. Surprisingly, Kitty isn’t opposed to the plan, assuming she gains the proposal from her preferred suitor, the rakishly stubborn Jack Westruther. In an effort to gain Jack’s favor through the dark art of jealousy, Kitty pretends to be engaged to Freddy Standen and convinces Freddy to introduce her to his family in London. Naturally, that’s where Kitty’s carefully crafted plan falls apart and the story’s true fun begins.

Pride and Pleasure by Sylvia Day, 2014

Although this book leans more toward historical fiction (via Reedsy Blog) with a dash of romantic suspense than a true Regency (via DIY MFA), its focus on suitors and spinsters will speak to the heart of every die-hard “Bridgerton” fan. The plot follows Eliza Martin, a mature heiress, who longs to grow old alone but whose uncle insists she marry. As she’s being courted, a series of dangerous mishaps ensue that lead her to believe one of her suitors has hatched a plan to pressure her into marriage for the sake of protection and her fortune. To protect her best interests, Eliza hires thief-taker Jasper Bond to infiltrate her circle of suitors and flush out the culprit. Unfortunately, she’s blissfully ignorant of Jasper’s cunningly covert connections to her circle of friends and his deepening desire to seduce her for his own ends.

A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole, 2018

Alyssa Cole’s “Reluctant Royals” series takes a contemporary look at high society life (via Alyssa Cole). But what her novels lack in the realm of elaborate dinner parties, they make up for in the areas of characterization and sensuality. As noted by the partial cover, this is an interracial romance series (via Goodreads), and “Duke by Default” acts as the third installment — although readers can enjoy the novel as a standalone. The story centers on Portia Hobbs, a perpetual student whose well-to-do family is constantly disappointed by her eccentric interests. Her latest venture has taken her to Scotland to learn sword making from Tavish McKensie, a gruff Scotsman who is the secret son of a duke. This is mostly a fish-out-of-water story mixed with the enemies-to-lovers trope so common among stories featuring alpha males. Yet, it’s the commoner-turned-duke conceit that will keep fans of “Bridgerton” interested, along with the fiery sex scenes.

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