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6 Historical Romances to Read Before Watching the Bridgerton TV Series

by  | July 30

Romance is sweeping Hollywood off its feet these days, and I don’t know about you, but I am ready to enjoy the ride! There’s no better cure for a long day than a satisfying, uplifting story that reaffirms your belief in love and couple goals. Clearly, the brilliant minds behind addictive shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal agree, because Shonda Rhimes’s production company, Shondaland, is now adapting a romance series for the screen too!

Based on the beloved historical romance novels by Julia Quinn, Bridgerton will be a Netflix show revolving around the quirky, endearing Bridgerton family as they meet their matches in 19th-century London. If the TV series is anything like the books, expect dashing heroes who could give Mr. Darcy a run for his money, delightfully witty banter, awe-inspiring displays of wealth, and swoon-worthy grand gestures.

Although the cast of Bridgerton is still being announced, it’s never too early to learn why historical romance readers are already in a tizzy over this up-and-coming show. Allow these six novels to serve as your entrée into “polite society” and the sumptuous world of the Bridgertons…

To Have and to Hoax

To Have and to Hoax

by Martha Waters

I’ve been itching to get my hands on Martha Waters’s To Have and to Hoax since I first heard about it, and not only because we happen to share a surname. No, there are several other reasons too, such as that it’s a historical Regency rom-com being compared to the works of Jasmine Guillory and Julia Quinn, both of whom I adore. And then there’s the plot: a second-chance-at-love story about an estranged couple, Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley, who married for love but whose pride has kept them from reconciling after a huge falling-out four years ago. When Violet receives word that James has suffered a blow to the head in a riding accident, she rushes home to him, only to learn it was a false alarm, which in turn inspires her to feign an illness so that he’ll be concerned about her. Thus begins a scheme to win each other back, and how on earth could I (or you) resist a setup like that?!

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The Duke and I

The Duke and I

by Julia Quinn

To understand why Shondaland felt compelled to adapt an eight-book series about a gaggle of aristocratic siblings looking for love in Regency England, start at the beginning with The Duke and I. Daphne Bridgerton, secure in her place as the fourth of eight children in a big family, is not averse to the idea of marriage, but she’s none too interested in her pool of potential beaus either. So when an opportunity arises to help her brother’s best friend—Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings—avoid speculation about when he’ll settle down by faking a courtship with him, she jumps at it. Why not? It’ll be mutually beneficial. The only thing they don’t count on is developing real feelings for each other…

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The Devil You Know

The Devil You Know

by Liz Carlyle

We’re all susceptible to bad-boy heroes, and Frederica d’Avillez, the heroine of The Devil You Know, is no exception. After being rejected by her longtime suitor in favor of another woman, Freddie figures she may as well embrace her spinster status—but not before indulging in one night of unforgettable passion. Enter notorious “rake, scoundrel, and all-round devil” Bentley Rutledge, who’s only too happy to oblige. Of course, with chemistry as combustible as theirs, one night was never going to be enough...

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Secrets of a Summer Night

Secrets of a Summer Night

by Lisa Kleypas

A fitting follow-up to a Bridgertons binge, the Wallflower books follow four young debutantes who make a pact to support each other through the interminable season, an annual period of social events carefully orchestrated to pair up genteel young women with noble would-be husbands. In Secrets of a Summer Night, Annabelle relies on her newfound friends for sage advice as she tries (and fails) to resist falling for the wrong man. Simon Hunt may be handsome and rich enough to bail her family out of their dire financial straits, but there’s no way she can marry a businessman. Society would never approve. Will she let that stop her? (Spoiler alert: Nope.)

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Never Seduce a Scoundrel

Never Seduce a Scoundrel

by Sabrina Jeffries

Never underestimate how much drama goes down in London ballrooms. Lady Amelia Plume has no time for the fortune hunters and insufferable suitors who are obviously only after her dowry—she craves adventure. Then she meets Major Lucas Winter, an American soldier who immediately stands out from the crowd. He’s brash and arrogant and wants just one thing: Amelia. The feeling’s mutual and the desire that sparks between them is undeniable and all-consuming. Still, Amelia can’t help but wonder if there’s something Lucas is keeping from her...

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The Luckiest Lady in London

The Luckiest Lady in London

by Sherry Thomas

Louisa Cantwell will do anything to support her younger sisters–even accept the proposal of a mysterious, too-perfect man she does not trust. But while she envisions a marriage of convenience, it quickly becomes clear that there will be nothing convenient about her relationship with her new husband, Felix Rivendale, the Marquess of Wrenworth. Beneath the veneer of The Ideal Gentleman is the real Felix, who has used his public persona to hide deep emotional scars for years. What happens when they realize they’re actually perfect for each other?

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Heather Waters is an Associate Director of Marketing at Simon & Schuster, where she runs the Get Literary and Tips on Life & Love blogs. She enjoys reading everything from romance to true crime to political memoirs, and in her free time you can often find her binge-watching Netflix, refreshing Twitter every 10 seconds, and listening to the latest episode of the podcast My Favorite Murder.