All Eight of Julia Quinn's 'Bridgerton' Novels, Ranked

One PEOPLE writer sets out to rank the eight books in the romance series that inspired the wildly popular Netflix show, Bridgerton.

Dearest [romance] readers, the time has come to reveal which of the Bridgerton novels by Julia Quinn we wish to name diamond of the first water.

The incredibly popular Netflix series Bridgerton is based on a series of books by Quinn and, much like the series, follow each member of the Bridgerton family on their quest for love — though executive producers Shonda Rhimes and Chris Van Dusen hinted that the TV series may go out of order.

As a fan of the original book series — the first tome of which came out more than two decades ago, in 2000 — I'm taking on duties usually reserved for Lady Whistledown herself, ranking the romance novels. (To be totally clear, I really did enjoy all of these books, and ranking them was tough!)

Bridgerton novels

If you haven't read the books already, or if you want to watch the Netflix adaptation spoiler-free, then turn back now: spoilers ahead:

#8. The Duke & I

Bridgerton novels

The Duke and I is the first book in Julia Quinn's series and it follows Daphne Bridgerton, the eldest Bridgerton daughter. It was also the basis for season 1 of the show.

Why It's Ranked #8:

I know, I know, it's the book that started it all, but readers of the Bridgerton series know that Quinn's first book is far from the best of the series. A fake courtship creates plenty of moments for tension to build between Daphne and Simon, Duke of Hastings, and their chemistry in the novels is great.

There are, however, moments in the book that are too problematic to ignore. Namely, after Daphne finds out that Simon has been lying about being unable to have children, he goes off to get drunk, and when he returns Daphne begins to have sex with him while he is asleep — in other words, she sexually assaults him.

The book reads, "Daphne felt the strangest, most intoxicating surge of power. He was in her control, she realized. He was asleep, and probably still more than a little bit drunk, and she could do whatever she wanted with him." The Duke awakens and becomes an active participant, but the lack of consent at the start plus Daphne attempting to force him to impregnate her ... it's enough to take the reader out of the story.

We're glad they at least attempted to change this scene for the TV adaptation (though the scenes still lacked the Duke's consent in some aspects). After that scene, which happens 75 percent of the way through the book, it became even more difficult to believe the pair could make their relationship work and move past each other's betrayals.

#7. On the Way to the Wedding

Bridgerton novels

The youngest Bridgerton boy, Gregory, gets his turn for love in On the Way to the Wedding, which is the final book of the eight-book series.

Why It's Ranked #7:

While it's easy to fall in love with Gregory Bridgerton, the final book in the series is a web so tangled, it becomes distracting. Sweet Gregory fancies himself in love with Hermione Watson, but Hermione doesn't return his affections, so her best friend, Lucy Abernathy, tries to help Gregory win her hand. Then it's revealed that Lucy's own brother, in fact, loves Hermione. Finally, Gregory realizes that he is in love with Lucy, but then Lucy is betrothed to another and Gregory finds himself attempting to stop a wedding, full-on Taylor Swift "Speak Now" style. If you can believe it, what happens after he tries to stop the wedding is even more bonkers.

While I loved Gregory's romantic spirit, the book spends way too much time on Gregory's interest in Hermione, and I got impatient for him and Lucy's love story to really begin!

#6. To Sir Phillip, with Love

Bridgerton novels

The fifth book of the series, To Sir Phillip, with Love is about Eloise Bridgerton.

Why It's Ranked #6:

The book lands itself in the middle of the pack, just like middle child Eloise Bridgerton herself. After starting up a correspondence with her late fourth cousin, Marina Thompson's widower, Sir Phillip, Eloise decides to make the impulsive decision to go visit him to see if they are suited for marriage — without telling her family where she's gone off to. The scandal!

I love that Eloise's book has layers to it: she feels lonely after her best friend Penelope finally marries (Eloise's brother, Colin), Sir Phillip is still processing his wife's mental health struggles and death (and trying to raise twins) and the pair are trying to work out their feelings for each other. Plus, we get to see the Bridgerton Brothers go into big brother mode, which is always fun.

My one complaint is the timeline of this book — we barely see Eloise and Sir Phillip's correspondence and then the pair are semi-forced into marriage just days after she meets him in person the first time. Though I have to say, the scene where Phillip decides to prove *wink wink* to Eloise that they're suited for each other? Chef's kiss.

#5. It's in His Kiss

Bridgerton novels

Hyacinth Bridgerton gets her chance at love in the seventh Bridgerton novel, It's in His Kiss.

Why It's Ranked #5:

The youngest Bridgerton siblings usually get the short end of the stick when it comes to the ranking of these books, but It's In His Kiss is actually a delight. Hyacinth Bridgerton is smart, headstrong and unafraid to make her feelings known and her love interest, Gareth St. Clair, loves everything about her. Did we mention that he is Lady Danbury's grandson? Their banter is top-tier and the plot of the book is a departure from the others — we get to see Hyacinth and Gareth sneak around in an attempt to uncover hidden family jewels! I have high hopes that we'll get to see these two on-screen.

#4. An Offer from a Gentleman

Bridgerton novels

An Offer from a Gentleman is the third book in the series, and it follows Benedict Bridgerton's romance.

Why It's Ranked #4:

A Cinderella retelling, Benedict meets Sophie Beckett, a maid, at a masquerade ball and falls in love with her without knowing her true identity. Years later, the pair meet again when Benedict saves her from a group of men, and they begin an affair, but meet trouble when Benedict asks Sophie to be his mistress (it wouldn't be proper for them to marry) and she feels hurt. This was the book where I truly realized that the book versions of the Bridgerton boys are not the best fictional men, but their heroines are really awesome.

#3. When He Was Wicked

Bridgerton novels

When He Was Wicked is sixth in the Bridgerton series. It follows Francesca Bridgerton, the sixth Bridgerton child.

Why It's Ranked #3:

If you thought that Anthony and Kate's book was sexy, may we introduce you to Francesca Bridgerton and Michael Stirling's love story? Michael is in love with his best friend and cousin John's wife, Francesca and, after John's untimely death, he finds himself in charge of his estate. His proximity to Francesca makes it impossible for him to deny his feelings, and as hers grow as well, the pair are forced to confront them head-on. Even as the pair deny their emotions, they're unable to escape their physical chemistry and the results, as mentioned before, are steamy AF.

It's really fun to see a heroine who knows exactly what she likes versus the blushing brides we're used to reading in romance novels — Francesca has been married before and so she's not as green as Quinn's other heroines.

What sets this book apart from the others is the way that it deals with guilt and grief between two people who suffered a common loss as they try to figure out how to let themselves be happy together.

#2. Romancing Mister Bridgerton

Bridgerton novels

Romancing Mister Bridgerton is the fourth book in the series, and it follows Colin Bridgerton's love story.

Why It's Ranked #2:

It turns out that the friends to lovers romance trope can be nearly as satisfying as enemies to lovers, after all! Fans of the show will be happy to know that Colin Bridgerton does, in fact, manage to pull his head out of the clouds for long enough to realize that his perfect match, Penelope Featherington, has been right in front of him all along. The best part of this novel, though, is the discovery of just who Lady Whistledown is after three books of wondering, and the way that Penelope owns her power as Colin navigates his jealousy toward her successful writing career.

#1. The Viscount Who Loved Me

Bridgerton novels

The Viscount Who Loved Me is the second book in the Bridgerton series and follows eldest son Anthony Bridgerton's love story.

Why It's Ranked #1:

As enemies-to-lovers with banter and chemistry, Kate Sheffield and Anthony Bridgerton make playing a game of pall mall and sucking the venom out of a bee sting (on Kate's chest no less!) as sexy as a romp around the bed chamber. In my mind, there's no doubt this is the top Bridgerton novel. What makes it so enjoyable is not just the couple's chemistry, but the character development for Kate and Anthony, both as a pair and on their own. The duo go from working against one another — Anthony wants Kate's younger sister's hand in marriage, but Kate believes him wholly unsuitable — to working together through their traumatic experiences and learning to let themselves love each other fully.

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