I Read All Eight Bridgerton Books, So You Don’t Have To: Part 1

Once I completed my self-assigned project to read 26 classics, I was pretty burnt out on heavy literature. While I genuinely enjoyed all but two of the titles I chose, I realized that there’s a reason why people don’t typically read classics for fun. The pacing is far slower, the world-building is more involved, the themes are less obvious, and in many cases, the dialect can be quite difficult to follow. Reading a classic is enjoyable in the way reading a PEW Research Center study is enjoyable. It’s work. So, as a balm to my somewhat raw senses, I decided to try a modern and lighthearted take on classics, with Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, following the prolific family of the same name in Regency era Britain, which officially spans the years 1811-1820.

In our modern world, where everyone is watching something different, there are few titles that everyone recognizes. While others lament that fact, I’m just relieved that finally, I can rewatch the original Roswell for the 87th time in peace, without being subjected to the absolute horror that I haven’t seen Yellowstone. Bridgerton, however, is one of the rare shows that seems to have gained household notoriety, even if not everyone has actually watched it. If you’re unfamiliar with the premise and have perhaps just had it on your Netflix list, it’s about a family of eight children, the Bridgertons, sequentially named for the first eight letters of the alphabet and their adventures in love. Each Bridgerton gets their own book and, I would assume, Netflix season. Though historical romance has never been my jam, I made my way through the entire Bridgerton series, complete with lengthy epilogues, and figured it would be a complete waste not to review them.

As with my previous “I read… so you don’t have to” serial, there will be unavoidable spoilers, because… well that’s the “you don’t have to” part. I will not, however, share every detail of the plot or resolution, completely ruining the story or show for those who intend to read or watch. The show has already veered a great deal, so I suspect reading my reviews will spoil very little, but reader beware. I will be updating and reposting my reviews as the series continues, to include my assessments of each season.

1. The Duke and I – Daphne and Simon – Rank: 3

The Duke and I tells the tale of Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, and Daphne, the oldest Bridgerton daughter in the summer of 1813. Simon is a rake (Regency era playboy) and the best friend of Anthony Bridgerton, Daphne’s oldest brother. Having been abused by his own father, Simon has vowed never to marry or have children. Meanwhile, Daphne longs for marriage and motherhood, but finds that she’s so easy to get along with that men tend to see her as a strictly friendly or even sisterly companion, much to her despair during her first season on the marriage market.

Simon first meets Daphne when she’s being harassed by a suitor. Before he can save the day, Daphne punches the drunk herself and Simon finds himself immediately attracted to her… that is until he discovers that she’s the little sister of his best friend. Regardless, Simon and Daphne hatch a plan to convince high society, or the ton, that they’re courting. Mothers eager to marry their daughters will leave the disinterested, yet extremely eligible, Simon alone; and Daphne will attract the attention of far better suitors when they see she’s caught the eye of a Duke. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t go as planned and the two begin to truly fall in love.

Through Regency era shenanigans, Simon and Daphne find themselves forced to marry, despite their differing plans for life. Simon informs Daphne that he can’t have children and she accepts him regardless. When innocent Daphne’s mother, Violet, explains sex to her, she’s left confused at the mechanics and goes into marriage blind. In time, Daphne realizes that Simon hasn’t been truthful with her and feels betrayed by what she realizes are his deliberate efforts to mislead her and avoid conception. Through drama and heartache, the two reconcile and babies are born into a happy marriage, some of them through the epilogues of other books.

I’ve never been a connoisseur of historical romance, finding it difficult to suspend my disbelief to accommodate these charming, young, handsome, tall rakes of the Regency era. I can never forget that the average male height in this time period was 5’6″, baths occurred on a weekly or monthly basis, and toothbrushes hardly existed. Still, I obviously enjoyed The Duke and I enough to continue the series, but I did notice a glaring issue with the show. While Bridgerton has been relentlessly praised for its diverse casting, it didn’t take long to realize that most of the Black characters in the show don’t exist in the books. There is no sassy Black queen. Marina is an off-page bit character in book five. Will, Alice, and Madame Delacroix aren’t in the series at all. Simon is the only prominent character from The Duke and I played by a person of color. Lady Danbury does become an important character, but she’s barely in the first book. It’s as if the writers wanted to appear progressive without “ruining” the image of the main characters and that’s… gross. The Bridgertons are one of two main families in their story and there’s no reason why the Featheringtons couldn’t have been portrayed by people of color as well, if historical accuracy was moot.

Despite the books souring me on the show’s faux diversity, I quite enjoyed Simon and Daphne’s story. I’ve never been drawn to the Brother’s Best Friend or Fake Dating tropes, but it was fun to read such a contemporary take on this time period. The show did a fair job of depicting the characters and their story in season one, with an appropriate touch of gloss on some scenes the didn’t age well. While fans of the show didn’t ignore the dubious nature of Daphne’s attempt to conceive against Simon’s wishes, the scene in the book was substantially more rapey. I won’t ruin it, but I will warn that it might color the character in a pretty negative light for some readers.

As with all romance, the guaranteed HEA, or happily ever after, takes much of the stress out of the story. The odds for the couple are seemingly insurmountable, but it’s always in the back of your mind that everything will work out and it does. This is not a time period about which I fantasize, but I can see how some would after reading this book. The realities of history are replaced with a story about wealthy, beautiful people, surrounded by loving and accepting families. Whether watching the show or reading the book, you’ll want to be a Bridgerton and why are we reading books such as these if not for escapism? Ultimately, Daphne and Simon rank as my third favorite Bridgerton couple.

2. The Viscount Who Loved Me – Anthony and Kate – Rank: 2

In the summer of 1814, Anthony, the eldest of the Bridgerton children, has decided that it’s time to set aside his rakish ways and marry. Traumatized by the untimely death of his father from a bee sting, however, he’s determined never to love and deliberately seeks a match that will incite no truly deep feelings. Enter, Edwina Sheffield, the shy and proper younger sister of fiery Kate. Nearing spinsterhood at age 20, Kate’s sole concern is finding a decent match for her beloved Edwina. While Anthony has decided the younger of the Sheffield women fits his requirements precisely, Kate disapproves of the match, convinced that the Viscount has not given up his rakish ways. Despite the growing friction between the two, neither Anthony nor Kate can deny their attraction to each other. Caught in a precarious position when Kate is stung by a bee, the two have no choice but to marry and reconcile their differences, eventually growing in love throughout the rest of the story.

Anthony and Kate were my second favorite of the Bridgerton couples. Just typing this makes me want to reread, though I’ve never cared for the Enemies to Lovers trope. I appreciate the concept in theory. I just always find it somewhat uneven. The conflict between the two either tips into hostile and abusive territory or exaggerates what is simply good-natured ribbing. In an attempt to avoid sullying the swoon-worthy hero, the author often writes only the heroine as truly antagonistic, inadvertently coloring her as an unlikable shrew. Anthony and Kate had the perfect balance. I’m talking chef’s kiss here. They’re both assholes to each other and it is Chuck and Blair delicious. While Anthony’s absolute conviction of his early demise seems a wee bit overwrought, the animosity and attraction he shares with Kate are simultaneously quite convincing, which I find rare among these stories. I would say my favorite thing about this book, is that the couple spends basically the last half of it together. In my opinion, it is absolutely vital in this trope, that the reader experience the couple happy after all that conflict and most authors fail here.

On screen, Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley did a fantastic job portraying Anthony and Kate’s chemistry. The switch-up with Indian culture felt fun and natural. The costumes were gorgeous. That said, Netflix ruined the story of The Viscount Who Loved Me. Y’all, I am not a purist when it comes to adaptations. I love a good twist on an old tale, but Anthony and Kate’s season of Bridgerton was utter crap. In The Viscount Who Loved Me, Edwina is simply looking for a husband, nearly as pragmatically as Anthony. She never loves the eldest Bridgerton. She barely has a chance to get to know him, before he’s forced to marry Kate after he’s caught scandalously examining her bee sting. What follows is a delightful forced marriage story, as the couple comes to love and respect one another for their equally strong wills, a concept I appreciate considering my prideful, stubborn, pushy husband.

Bridgerton, however, drags out Anthony and Kate’s courtship up to the humiliation and devastation of Edwina. This unavoidably paints the leads as complete assholes, not to each other but the sister Kate adores and whom Anthony respects, regardless of his lack of romantic affection. By the time the two unite, I can’t even root for them anymore, because they’re dicks, which I suppose is a minor consolation for the fact that we’re robbed of their growing love for one another. All of this was entirely unnecessary, as the original story included a great deal of drama that could have been easily adapted for the screen, such as Anthony’s conviction that he won’t live past 38, Kate’s absolute terror of thunderstorms, and a carriage crash that nearly killed the heroine. The fabricated drama of the show hurt the story and its characters, so while this was my second favorite book, I can only hope it’s my least favorite season of Bridgerton.

Belle of the Book Blogs


I claimed the reason I never started a book blog was that I’m just too opinionated. That’s not strictly true. It’s really because I was too lazy. About a year ago, I set one up. I chose a name, formatted it, even made a custom header. I just never did anything with it. You see, my favorite book bloggers, they’re just so… wordy. They go on and on about their favorite titles and how the characters made them feel and what they liked and didn’t like and who they’d choose to play the roles and what they hope to get out of the next installment and for the most part…. I’m just skimming. Also, that was an intentional run-on sentence to create a feeling of endlessness. Anyhoo…

As much as I value the opinions of my favorite book bloggers and appreciate a good review before I spend time trying to get into a story… if I wanted to read that much on the subject, I’d just read the book. Why can’t someone create a book blog where they just tell me whether or not the book is worth my time and give a brief description of why? I mean, if you didn’t like the story because the man was too bossy, step aside and give me a copy, because I love a good fictional alpha male. On the other hand, if you wanted to cut the heroine, because she was so obnoxious, thanks for saving me the time and pennies. Regardless, those sentiments can be shared in very few words and we can fangirl in the comments. Which brings me to my final point: If I wanted to make a book blog, why would I spend hours reviewing a title, when I admittedly skim everyone else’s reviews?!?!

So, I invited y’all to follow me on Goodreads, which I do maintain, but any reviews I might write quickly get lost in the sea of clever, GIF filled, three-page-long critiques. So, alas, I am going to be the change I wish to see in the world… cuz that’s where Gandhi was going with that. He wanted me to review smut and such… in 250 words or less, at Belle of the Book Blogs. It’s the Twitter of book blogging.

The Lucky One… rented a different movie.

I was supposed to go to a baby shower today, but there was an apocalyptic downpour for the ten minute window in which I would’ve left. I still want to send a gift, so I went to Family Video and got a gift card, some candy, and microwave popcorn to go with the sparkling grape juice I’d bought. I figured I’d give a date night, since I know shit about what babies do. Then I was possessed by demons, and not the good kind like the sexy ones from my werewolf porn, but rather the entire hoard of Gentlemen from Hush, the silent episode of Buffy. You know what they did to me? They made me rent The Lucky One.

You couldn’t have just taken my heart?!?!?!

I’ve been on a romance kick with my Kindle, so I figured I’d give this whole chick flick thing another try. Clearly, I like the sweet love stories, right? The thing is, unless it’s done phenomenally well, the words on the page are just too overdone on-screen. I’m afraid of emotion, y’all. I can’t handle this without laughing. You are really going to enjoy my entries if I ever get into another relationship. But… I decided to give the genre another shot and asked for a recommendation since the last movie I saw was The Collection, because boys are gross.

“If you like The Notebook, you’ll love this one.”

I totally intend to write a blog about everything that is wrong with The Notebook, but I didn’t feel like browsing any longer. The thing is, I don’t hate The Notebook. I Titanic it. What that means is that I think it’s a really sweet story if you don’t scratch the surface… not even a little. The Lucky One, though? Well, at one point, I accidentally changed the language to French and wasn’t sure if I liked the movie enough to bother figuring out how to change it back. It may grow on me though… like genital warts.

The movie opens with a battle scene where a freshly shaven and showered Zac Efron (Logan) and company are shooting people with what sounds like cap guns. Whatever, though. This is a love story, not a war story. The next day, Logan stumbles across a photo of a hot chick. When he bends down to pick it up, a bomb goes off and had he continued walking, he’d have been killed. More bad stuff happens and Logan lives, because the photo tells him to “Stay Safe” on the back. All his buddies keep telling him the woman pictured saved his life and he has to find her.

Wait. What? A soldier finds a picture of a woman on the ground and is immediately driven and encouraged to track her down? I know we find out later that the picture belonged to her brother, but Logan doesn’t know that. If a soldier has a picture of a hot chick on him, it’s kind of natural to assume she’s taken by a soldier. No one even considers or proposes this idea and Logan decides he must find his angel and thank her. ::Vomit::

Logan makes his family uncomfortable, because he’s irreparably damaged by war, so he walks from Colorado to Louisiana asking people if they know the girl in the picture, eventually finding her home town.

Wait. Shut the front door! He just happens to find someone who recognizes the girl in the photo, which says only “Stay Safe” on the back? I’m not fucking buying it. Unless there was a visible license plate number in said photo, the odds of just stumbling across her in the straight line you walked through two or three states are just too ridiculous for even a Nicholas Sparks story about fate. I read books about people who have to arrange their wings properly during sex and you still cannot convince me that Zac Efron finds the woman in this picture… but he does… because of fairy dust and love.

He didn’t walk. He rode in.

Logan eventually tracks down his savior and how incredibly disappointing is it for him that she is a total bitch? Has Nicholas Sparks ever even met a nice woman? This man is beginning to make me truly concerned for his personal relationships. If the movies based on his books are any indication, Nicholas Sparks owns a boat, is not nearly as terrified of geese as I am, and is in an abusive relationship. Beth the Savior is nasty to Logan from the beginning, with absolutely no catalyst. He says he’s a marine and she blows him off and calls him crazy, which I’m sure would make her brother proud. She implies that he’s stupid, because he only went to college for a year. Later, we find out that she doesn’t like him because he works too hard. Listen, bitch. Try being married to a man who is too lazy to bathe for four years and we’ll talk about the pitfalls of the man who fought for his country. At this point, I was hoping this was one of those movies where she gets a disease and dies.

Beth eventually warms up to Logan, and we’re not allowed to be angry at her for being a bitch, because she was sad that one time and we women can’t control our emotions around people who had nothing to do with our sadness. Yeah. I’m on board with that.

eye roll

There are two main conflicts in this movie.
1) When will Logan tell Beth he found her picture?
2) Why’s it such a big fucking deal?
Also, Beth’s ex-husband is a douche bag and sheriff, even though he’d have to be like 9 years old, based on the timeline of this movie. Seriously. They got pregnant and married at 18 and the kid is 8. He’s 26 and sheriff? I suppose it’s possible.

There’s a lot of slow sensual sex, because people in love don’t fuck with wild abandon, duh. We see them dance and laugh, even though we never once hear either of them say something funny. Finally Beth learns that Logan knew her brother… and I still didn’t get why this was a bad thing. I have a big brother. I love him very much, even if he is a bigot who thinks fart jokes are hilarious. I’d be devastated if he died in war. You know what else? I’d think it was super cool that this guy found my picture and it was his good luck charm. It’d be even neater that he was hot and good in bed. I sure as shit wouldn’t be angry about it.

In a wildly unrealistic turn of events, Beth’s kid runs off in the rain, falls into a river, and his dad dies in an act of heroism, because somebody built the worst fucking treehouse of all time. Lady, if that treehouse couldn’t hold up to rain, your kid probably shouldn’t have been in it in the first place. Fo sho.

Oh, I’m not being fair. Louisiana isn’t really known for its storms.

Logan finds a photo of Beth’s brother and realizes that he was one of the guys with the cap guns and he died to save his partner. He tells Beth and dramatically walks away.

Why not just leave the way you got there?

Beth catches up with him, they kiss, and the kid has like zero rebound time to get over his dad’s death. They all live happily ever after.

There are chick flicks I’ve truly enjoyed, such as Sweet Home Alabama, 500 Days of Summer, Riding in Cars with Boys and Bridget Jones’s Diary. It’s just not fun to review those, because I can’t be sarcastic and smart alek. There are many more I’ve enjoyed, but love to tear apart, because according to Jay I’m “too analytical”. These include The Notebook, Gilmore Girls, Bewitched, Just Married, The Twilight Saga, and No Strings Attached. I enjoy watching these movies with and without analysis. Then there are movies I hate: The Women, The Vow, Pretty Woman, Enough, License to Wed, Life as We Know It. I’m not sure where The Lucky One falls. It’ll probably just be forgettable. But it was worth the $3 rental charge to enjoy “over-analyzing” it. The rest are sure to come.

Top Lines That Did Not Work On Screen, Because Emotions Freak Me Out

“Why did you come here?”
“To find you.”
I think someone once told me that in an alley where no one could hear me scream.

“Finding something like that in a war is like finding an angel in Hell.”
Has Sparks read the Bible? Because there are evil angels (known largely as demons) in Hell. The infamous Satan being one of them. Duh. So… ‘finding something like that in a war is like finding ham in a refrigerator.'”  – Gail

“You should be kissed every day, every hour, every minute.”
That is going to get really awkward when I’m doing things you’d like to pretend girls don’t do.

woman on toilet