Series: Bridgertons #4
Genres: Historical Romance
Also by this author: The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy, Because of Miss Bridgerton
I’ve recently finished rereading Romancing Mister Bridgerton, a delightful, laugh-out-loud confection of a novel. It’s the fourth in Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, and my favorite.
Each volume of the Bridgerton series focuses on one of the eight siblings of that name. The series opener, The Duke and I (someone needs to have a word with Quinn about her titles; I expected that one to be in first person, and it is not) is about the fourth child and eldest daughter, Daphne; her older brothers Anthony, Benedict, and Colin play large supporting roles. I enjoyed The Duke and I, but found it to be slightly uneven. Quinn alternates between being light and humorous, and serious and emotional, something she handles better in subsequent novels. For instance, in The Viscount Who Loved Me and An Offer From a Gentleman, Anthony’s and Benedict’s stories respectively, the juxtapositions between humor and more serious emotions (passion, anger, pain) are more successful. I’m particularly fond of Kate, Anthony’s bride in The Viscount Who Loved Me, who is able to see the humor in a situation even as it makes her uncomfortable.
Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, the tale of third son Colin Bridgerton, offers a blend of humor and believable emotion that is just right. Quinn’s witty, rapid-fire dialog leaves me laughing out loud, and would translate very well to the screen — imagine Jane Austen combined with West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin. Best of all, both main characters in this novel are likeable, sympathetic, and believable. No dark, dangerous, brooding heroes or too-obtuse-to-live heroines here! Twenty-eight-year-old wallflower Penelope Featherington is intelligent and witty, but uncomfortably shy in a crowd. Colin Bridgerton is handsome, of course (just once, couldn’t someone write a romance featuring a man of less than movie-star looks?), but he’s neither dangerous nor brooding. Instead, he is just plain nice: a caring, honest, kind man, much more the sort of person I would be inclined to marry.*
Although Penelope has a secret which Colin manages to uncover, there are no major obstacles or misunderstandings keeping these two apart, no sudden thunderbolt of love, no threat to Penelope’s physical safety, and no darkly swirling emotions. It’s not that I object in principle to any of those, but they really are over-used. It’s refreshing to find a romance novel that avoids the more obvious tropes. Romancing Mister Bridgerton offers the more-or-less ordinary romance of two more-or-less ordinary people, and shows their romance to be quite as humorous, joyful, and extraordinary as any real relationship.
There are four subsequent novels in the series: To Sir Philip, With Love (Eloise); When He Was Wicked (Francesca); It’s In His Kiss (Hyacinth); and On the Way to the Wedding (Gregory). I enjoy them all – Francesca’s tale is, like Daphne’s, a bit more serious than the others – but I still find on rereading that Romancing Mr. Bridgerton remains my favorite overall.