You’re not alone if you’ve burned through all the episodes of the second season of Bridgerton already and are itching for more. With this in mind, not only have we compiled romances that’ll remind you of Kate and Anthony’s longing for each other, but we’ve also included historical nonfiction books where you can learn more about race, gender, and fashion during the Georgian and Regency eras in England.
After King George III fell ill and descended into madness, his son George IV, the Prince of Wales, served as regent. This is why the era is known as the Regency period. Some historians believe King George III’s mental-illness symptoms were due to a blood disorder, porphyriaalthough others have disputed this theory.
Nevertheless, this period was marked by burgeoning social change, especially for upper-class British women, who enjoyed a new kind of independence. Unfortunately, not everyone benefited from this age of independence. While technically the British slave trade was outlawed, slavery continued, and so did the slave trade, especially to the Caribbean and South America. And in India, colonialism raged on. It was also the age of Jane Austen, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Lord Byron’s poetry. This formative period of British history has inspired many books—including romances—because of its significant impact on the most intimate areas of people’s lives and its effect on public discourse.
The most exciting parts of Bridgerton — the longing and desire — are heavily represented in this list with romantic reads. Also included are educational deep dives into the Regency era, books that center Black women during this time period, and queer novels. Happy reading!
Perhaps you’re waiting to see what happens next on-screen with the eight Bridgerton siblings. If that’s the case, then revisit Daphne and the Duke’s romance in book one, The Duke and I. The next in the series, The Viscount Who Loved Me, delivers juicy spoilers and alternative plotlines that deviate from season two of the Netflix show. Then read on to find out more about Colin and Penelope’s budding relationship, and learn more about the younger Bridgerton siblings — like little Hyacinth — who come into their own and find lasting love.
Since 1994, beloved author Beverly Jenkins has been publishing steamy romances that put Black women at the center. Rebel, the story of a Black Northern woman journeying South to New Orleans, is a quintessential Jenkins romance. After the Civil War, Valinda Lacy moves to New Orleans to help the newly emancipated community by creating a new school. When violent men destroy her school and put her in their sights of her, Valinda has to escape — and she encounters Captain Drake LeVeq, an architect who is drawn to Valinda’s strength, determination, and beauty of her. When Valinda’s father interferes with her, demanding that she enter a loveless marriage, Valinda and Drake must fight for their relationship. With 59 books under her belt, Jenkins is a master of the craft of immersive, romantic storytelling.
Carolly Erickson is an award-winning author of historical fiction and nonfiction books like The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots, The First Elizabeth, The Last Wife of Henry VIIIand The Tsarina’s Daughter. In this primer on Regency England, readers get the background on the social and political issues that underlie the tensions and norms featured in Bridgerton, especially when power shifts upon King George III’s illness, which rendered him unable to rule. Soak in the grand architecture, opulent fashion, and decadent balls, and immerse yourself in the literary age of Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, and Lord Byron. And what lies below the glamor is even more intriguing: political unrest, widespread radicalism, and the European war against Napoleon.
If the name didn’t give it away, fair warning: This five book saga is much darker than Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, but it’s a compelling work of historical fiction. Set in medieval Cambridge, England, Mistress of the Art of Death follows the aftermath of the murder of four children, for which the town’s Jewish community is immediately blamed. For the Christian inhabitants of Cambridge, the murders are seen as proof that Jews sacrifice Christian children in dark, bloody rituals. (Yes, people really accused Jews of this in those days.)
To prove the town’s bigots wrong, a young medical apprentice, Adelia Aguilar, is sent to investigate. People are shocked that she’s a woman, but as the “Mistress of Death,” this prodigy is the best one for the task. Hiding her identity de ella as a doctor to avoid accusations of witchcraft, Adelia and her companions de ella — Simon, a Jew, and Mansur, a Moor — travel to England to find the real killer, and uncover shadowy truths about politics, corruption, and hate. There’s no shortage of adventure in this series.
Set in the late 1700s, the rokesbyseries follows the noble Rokesby family, who are close friends of the Bridgertons. Quinn wanted to explore the Georgian era, so she went back in history and crafted more hot-and-heavy romances. check out Because of Miss Bridgerton, The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband, The Other Miss Bridgertonand First Comes Scandal. The books follow childhood friendships turned to love, adventures traveling across the Atlantic, pirate kidnappings, and useless rakes. And best of all, there are plenty of the Bridgerton family names here, like young Anthony, Benedict, and baby Colin.
Jane Austen is arguably the most beloved author of the Regency era, with her stories focusing on women’s daily realities in a period of time that was defined by its transition into the modern age. Including many previously unpublished images, Hilary Davidson’s book is a feast for fashion-hungry eyes, illustrated with paintings, drawings, and renderings of historic garments.
Dress in the Age of Jane Austen features the couture and clothing that shaped the lives of characters like Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice), Marianne Dashwood (Sense and Sensitivity), and Emma Woodhouse (emma). The book explores the function that fashion played in various social and intimate realms of the time.
A queer YA novel set in the 1700s, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is the story of two young men falling in love on a grand tour of Europe. The first book in the Montague-siblings series, this tale follows Henry “Monty” Montague, a rogue gambler and lover of women and men whose father’s constant disapproval is a weight he can’t shake off. Monty is meant to be a gentleman, but he has other plans. But as Monty leaves to explore the continent, his reckless ways are in jeopardy, not just from the mounting pressures from his father for Monty to assume responsibility for the family’s estate, but also from Monty’s growing feelings for his best friend, Percy, who has also come along for the adventure across Europe.
Still, Monty remains determined to extend his life of debauchery, even with his little sister Felicity accompanying him and Percy. But when Monty goes too far and ends up embroiling his little troupe in a manhunt across Europe, he has to reassess everything.
Studying journals, letters, and diaries, Brian Dolan paints a lush and exhilarating picture of Georgian-era British women who defied convention and explored the European continent on their own grand tours, an activity that was mostly reserved for men. Although they were expected to stay at home or only do light traveling with a male companion — either a husband or a family member — these headstrong women knew that to find themselves, they would have to forge different paths across countless thousands.
Now adapted into a TV series on PBS Masterpiece, this one is quite special. sanditon was Jane Austen’s last novel, which she bequeathed incomplete to her niece and was eventually finished by an unknown Jane Austen fan simply known as “Another Lady.” The completed product is a delightful piece of history that will draw you in (plus, it’s a very cool talking point at dinner parties).
The plot follows Charlotte Heywood, the eldest daughter of a family of 14, who is invited to stay with Mr. and Mrs. Parker of Sanditon. And in true Jane Austen fashion, Charlotte observes the society around her with wit and care while trying to resist falling in love. Both the novel and the TV series adaptation have racial diversity as well, featuring a Black heiress as a main character.
Bridgerton‘s racial diversity is one of the things fans love most about the show — getting to see Black and brown people in period dramas with all the glam, glitz, and lush romance is rare. But unfortunately, the real Regency era was not inclusive of Black and brown people, with slavery still raging on. This doesn’t mean, however, that Black people weren’t always part of the tapestry of England and its most significant historical eras. If you’re eager to learn more, Black Tudors is an excellent place to start. It’s not the Regency era, of course, but it’s no less fascinating. The book traces the lives of 10 free African people in the Tudor and Stuart eras, including the intricate details of their daily lives and treatment. There are John Blanke, the royal trumpeter to Henry VII and Henry VIII; Jacques Francis, a salvage diver on the wreck of the Mary Rose; and others. The people in this book are hugely diverse, coming to England from Africa, Europe, and what was known then as the Spanish Caribbean. Learn more about colonialism and the lives of Africans in this deeply informative and fascinating book.
Dear reader, get ready for another scandal with a woman writer in the middle of it. When her newspaper column by Ella leads to an arrest for a series of murders in London, Lady Katherine Bascomb finds herself in the eye of a storm — the judgment of society. After all, good Victorian English women don’t write for a career, and they most certainly do not write about grayly topics such as crime and murder. On top of all this, Detective Inspector Andrew Eversham (who’s not too bad on the eyes, either) is furious that Katherine has butted into his investigation. Katherine decides to take a break from her newfound infamy — and the way Andrew makes her feel a bit off-kilter — and heads to the countryside, where she immediately witnesses another murder. Some luck, huh?
Andrew can’t stop thinking about Katherine. Not just because he finds her beautiful, but mostly because he finds her vexing. After all, she nearly cost him his job de ella after what he sees as her meddling into a serious investigation and publishing sensationalist reporting. Now Andrew is more than furious that Katherine’s in the center of a murder again. But he ca n’t help but admit that her inquisitive mind and maddening persistence of her are leading him closer to the truth.
Nylah Burton is a Chicago-based writer. Follow her on Twitter @yumcoconutmilk.
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