Falling in love is always precarious—that’s why “falling” is used to describe it—but it’s even more precarious for the characters in Bridgerton, the new hit Netflix series set in Regency England. The show spotlights marriage-minded mamas, titled men needing money and heirs, and the young ladies stuck between them who are valued for their looks and their needlepoint but never for their minds.
In Bridgerton, Daphne Bridgerton—one of eight siblings who were named alphabetically, starting with Anthony and ending with Hyacinth—enters her first season in high society, only to find herself lacking suitors. Enter Simon, the Duke of Hastings, who is besieged by debutantes but has vowed that his family line will end with him. The two soon launch a fake courtship to make Daphne look more enticing to other noblemen and to keep the ladies off Simon’s trail. But as they get to know each other more, their plans go quickly awry.
If you adored Bridgerton, these eight historical love stories with bright wit and delightful characters will fill the hole in your heart.
Bridgerton: The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
The original novel behind the TV show will launch readers on a marvelous journey to discover how all the Bridgertons find their true loves. As they do in Simon and Daphne’s story in The Duke and I, Lady Whistledown, Lady Danbury, and Violet Bridgerton continue to shine as the young Bridgertons navigate society’s rules while following the north star of their hearts. While The Duke and I is a lovely romance, I admit I’m most partial to The Viscount Who Loved Me, which spotlights Anthony and his boneheaded ways.
The Duke Who Didn't by Courtney Milan
Bridgerton viewers who appreciate the diversity in the cast will love Courtney Milan’s The Duke Who Didn’t. This historical romance pairs a penetrating look at race in England with hilarious courtship in which a duke in disguise has to convince the common girl he loves to give him another chance after he bungled their last encounter. I read this novel in a single day, giggling the whole way through, and it is one of my picks in 2020 for the Best Romances of the Year.
The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
No writer alive pens a funnier historical romance than Tessa Dare. Dare delights showcasing the absurd lengths her characters will go to to convince themselves they are not in love, and readers will laugh out loud as the hero and heroine bumble toward their happy endings. In The Duchess Deal, the battle-scarred Duke of Ashbury needs a wife fast after his intended bride cries off from their engagement. When a seamstress comes to his house to request payment for the unused wedding dress, the duke sees an opportunity to get the wife he needs without a bothersome courtship. Every page of this book is a delight, and it begins a series of novels in which dukes are laid low by unexpected love.
Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean
Balls and carriages and drawing rooms are fun, but readers who want to plunge into the disreputable clubs and the shadowy underworld of London can do no better than with this series-starter by Sarah MacLean. When the illegitimate son of a duke offers Lady Felicity the chance to marry far above her station and prove that she’s not a desperate wallflower, she takes the deal—but quickly learns that she is a pawn in a long-running game of revenge. And she also learns that the man she truly wants is not the one she’s agreed to marry.
Someone to Love by Mary Balogh
Balogh’s enormously popular Walcott series gives readers sweet and heartwarming stories of finding true love despite society’s best efforts to thwart it, starting with Someone to Love. Anna Snow, an earl’s secret daughter, unexpectedly inherits his fortune, turning upside down both her life and the lives of the earl’s family who believed they would be getting the money. When tempers begin to grow stormy, the Duke of Netherby steps in to help calm the waters, only to discover that with Anna he has finally found a harbor for his lonely heart.
The Rogue of Fifth Avenue by Joanna Shupe
While Regency London is beautiful (at least for the rich and titled), Joanna Shupe’s romances take readers across the pond to the Gilded Age in New York City. Wealthy Mamie Greene keeps professional problem-solver Frank Tripp on his toes as she prowls through the gambling dens and clubs usually kept off limits to women like her. But she’s on a mission—one that is constantly thwarted by Frank’s loyalty to her father and blind determination to protect her. Sizzling passion pull these two together even as secrets push them apart in this page-turning series starter.
It Takes Two to Tumble by Cat Sebastian
Cat Sebastian’s gay Regency romances are perfect for those who want twice as much men in their novels—and falling in love with each other. When country vicar Ben Sedgwick agrees to look after an absent naval captain’s motherless children, he little suspects that the stern captain’s return will change not just the children’s lives but Ben’s as well. And the captain, used to being in charge, soon realizes that the cheerful young vicar has somehow taken control of his heart. If your favorite parts of Bridgerton are the shirtless boxing scenes, this romance by Sebastian will be a delight.
The Rogue by Katharine Ashe
Forbidden passion and chilling danger give The Rogue a deliciously dark edge—a good match for those who read romantic suspense or thrillers. Lady Constance believes a Scottish duke is the head of a lethal secret society, but she cannot get closer to exposing it without having a husband. When Saint, the enigmatic swordsman who seized her heart years ago, unexpectedly reenters her life, Constance is torn between her duty to her fellow Scots and the sure knowledge that Saint’s hold on her soul might destroy her before her mission is complete.
Fill the “Bridgerton”-size hole in your heart with these witty historical romances.