'Bridgerton' Season 2 Takes a Sharp Turn From Anthony and Kate's Love Story in 'The Viscount Who Loved Me'

On Friday, season 2 of the wildly popular show Bridgerton premiered on Netflix and readers of the same-titled Regency-era romance series by Julia Quinn already have a great deal to say

Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma and Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton in Netflix's Bridgerton. Photo: LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX

Be warned, gentle reader, this story contains spoilers for Bridgerton seasons 1 and 2, as well as author Julia Quinn's The Viscount Who Loved Me.

"All's fair in love and war," goes the maxim inspired by poet John Lyly. Can the same be said for book-to-screen adaptations?

On Friday, season 2 of the wildly popular show Bridgerton premiered on Netflix and readers of the same-titled Regency-era romance series by Julia Quinn already have a great deal to say.

Many fans have dreamed of Anthony and Kate's love story being translated to the screen since the book, The Viscount Who Loved Me, which is second in the Bridgerton book series, was first published more than 20 years ago.

Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) and Kate Sharma (known as Kate Sheffield in the book and played by Simone Ashley) are as stubborn and passionate in the show as they are in the enemy-to-lovers romance novel. But there are notable plot changes — even more so than in season 1, which follows Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), one of the eight Bridgerton siblings, as she falls in love with Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page).

Here is a look at some of the biggest differences between the novel and Bridgerton season 2. (Including an improper encounter between Anthony and Kate that forces them to marry, which doesn't happen in the show!)


The main story arch: Kate and Anthony's unexpected love for one another

The show begins in relatively the same way as The Viscount Who Loved Me. Anthony, Lord Bridgerton, is determined to marry out of duty, not love, because he was profoundly impacted when his father died of a bee sting at the age of 38. (In the book, Anthony's fear is stated explicitly: he believes he won't live longer than his father and wants to avoid painful romantic attachment.)

Enter Edwina, the diamond of the season (portrayed by Charithra Chandran), who will only marry with the approval of her older, beloved half-sister Kate. When Anthony makes his intentions to court Edwina known, Kate's defenses come up. She knows he's a rake with a capital "R," as Lady Whistledown so aptly describes him in her scandal sheet. Verbal combat and societal encounters (some of the comical kind) ensue. As Anthony pursues Edwina, he and Kate fall in love despite their best intentions — and Anthony will do anything to deny it, especially to himself.

Yet, as with most every book-to-show adaptation, characters are added and plot changes are made to increase the suspense leading up to Anthony and Kate's HEA. (Or happily ever after, for those who have never dived into the comment sections of Goodreads, where the sexiness and plot points of romance novels are discussed at length. This writer has!)

A poor heroine

In Quinn's novel, readers learn that Kate and Edwina are poor, but the show expands on this by introducing the storyline of the Sheffields, the family of Edwina's mother Mary.

As the show relates, years before, Mary was cast off for marrying Kate's widowed father, who is of lower rank, resulting in the Sharma family's move to India. Kate has her stepmother and sister return to London in the hopes that they can meet the Sheffields' demands and secure Edwina's dowry.

"She listens to her own instincts and she's not easily swayed by what everyone else is doing," Ashley told PEOPLE about her "sporty and competitive" character. "We meet her in different vulnerable moments and discover her background a little bit more and the family trauma that she holds. There's a lot of common cause for an audience to relate to her."

The Bridgerton siblings. LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX

Season 2 expands on characters' backstories — and introduces new ones

The addition of Queen Charlotte to the show's storyline accounts for the diverse cast of characters — a change from the book series and the historical romance genre as a whole, which has traditionally featured white characters. (As Simon explains in season 1, when the Black royal married King George III, people of color gained entry into high society.) In the show, Queen Charlotte is the one who selects Edwina as the diamond of the season. The royal's competition with and dogged search for the real Lady Whistledown also adds more outside tension to Kate and Anthony's story than is found in the book.

The show continues to expand on other characters' backstories in surprising ways when compared to the novels. In Bridgerton seasons 1 and 2, the Featheringtons lose their patriarch and must navigate a new, equally corrupt head of the family. Colin Bridgerton continues to be drawn to Marina, who we only hear about briefly in future books. Will Mondrich, boxer-turned-gambling house owner, and his wife are both characters who only exist in the show. And Eloise Bridgerton finds a new way to assert her independent nature by attending women's rights gatherings, even as her friend Penelope Featherington (who is also Lady Whistledown in the books) gets further ensnared in trouble for her writings.

Lord Edmund Bridgerton's death — and his son's turmoil

While these plot points move the story along for future seasons, it's the changes to Kate and Anthony's story that are most noteworthy. Viewers can't access Anthony's internal thoughts as readers can in the novel, but depth is added to his narrative in other ways. The show delves more fully into the late Lord Bridgerton's deep connection with his son. It shows how his untimely death, which was witnessed by Anthony, left his eldest child to shoulder all of the responsibility for his family. Meanwhile, Edmund's pregnant widow, Lady Violet Bridgerton, was debilitated by grief.

"Your father took his role as viscount seriously, but he also loved deeply," Lady Bridgerton tells Anthony in Bridgerton season 2, reflecting on her husband's death. "I know that is what you want, too. I know that, deep down, it is what you have always wanted."

Charithra Chandran as Edwina and Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma. NETFLIX

An affair to forget

When readers meet Anthony in Quinn's series, his attraction to an opera singer named Maria Rosso is briefly mentioned in a nod to his rakish ways. (In The Viscount Who Loved Me, one of the funniest scenes of the whole book series occurs when Kate hides under Anthony's desk to avoid being seen by the viscount and his would-be mistress. He quickly discovers her and verbal swordplay ensues.)

In Bridgerton season 1, Anthony's connection to the lovely singer named Siena Rosso is much more heartfelt. The end of their romance leaves them both in tears. In season 2, we see Anthony bid Siena a final farewell when he burns a pamphlet with her picture on it.

Changes to Kate and Anthony's most romantic moments

The plot twists even more sharply from the novel when comparing Anthony and Kate's most intimate moments. (Thankfully, for fans of the novel, the couple's fierce battle of pall-mall plays out on screen.)

Kate's race with Anthony at the beginning of the show, as well as the time they almost kiss while hunting, are both new to the storyline. The moment Anthony starts reading a poem to Edwina at a gathering in Lady Danbury's house, only to focus on Kate in the background and confront her later, is show creator Chris Van Dusen's way of capturing the inexorable connection between Anthony and Kate.

The thunderstorm and the bee sting

In The Viscount Who Loved Me, Kate and Anthony's connection emerges quite differently. One of the most powerful moments in their romance is only briefly touched on in the show.

In the book, while at the Bridgerton country estate Aubrey Hall, there is a tremendous thunderstorm that leaves Kate curled up into a ball on the floor of the library late one night. Anthony finds her and comforts her, learning that her terror stems from the death of her biological mother, who died at night during a storm, when she was a young girl. The two connect over their shared loss.

RELATED VIDEO: Ones to Watch: Meet PEOPLE Magazine's 15 Hottest Up-and-Coming Stars

"She wished — oh, how she wished — that when he was ready to face his fears," thinks Kate in The Viscount Who Loved Me, "she could be the one to help him."

In the novel, Anthony's past presents itself again when Kate, who has just given him her blessing to marry Edwina, is stung on the chest by a bee when they're walking outside. He frantically tries to suck the venom out, terrified she will die like his father did, and the couple is caught in a compromising position. They're forced to get married, ironically still unable to admit their growing love for one another.

From sisterly love — to a love triangle

The Netflix show takes a decidedly different turn. In season 2, Kate is just about to tell her sister the truth about everything, when Anthony proposes to Edwina. She accepts and the wedding day, paid for and orchestrated by Queen Charlotte, is strictly a plotline of the show. (Watch the later episodes for all of the great twists and surprises.)

Readers will be shocked by the change to the sisters' relationship from the book to the show. In the novel, Edwina is happy for Kate when she marries Anthony and recognizes that they love one another. The show, in contrast, reveals a hurt and astonished Edwina when she learns of the connection between the two. Edwina wants Anthony for herself. It takes her a long time to forgive her sister. (Edwina comes across as a different, more complex character than she does in the book, which changes the tone of the whole storyline.)

Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh), Edwina (Charithra Chandran), Mary Sharma (Shelley Conn) and Kate (Simone Ashley). NETFLIX

A terrifying accident — and true love realized

Fortunately for Kate and Anthony fans, Edwina doesn't marry the eldest Bridgerton brother in either story arc.

The plotlines of the book and show converge again when Kate has an accident. (In the show, she's racing on horseback and falls, hitting her head. In the novel, there's a carriage accident.) The threat to Kate's life is what it takes for Anthony to finally shake off the fear that has clung to him for years, so he can admit his love for her, which he does both on screen and in the book's last pages.

Despite the differences between the book and the show, the intense love and passion between Anthony and Kate, who are equally matched in willfulness and intellect, is the same.

"I fell in love with you, and then I knew. Even if I am right, even if I'm fated to live only as long as my father did before me, I'm not doomed," Lord Anthony Bridgerton tells his wife in The Viscount Who Loved Me. "I have you, and I'm not going to waste a single moment we have together."

Wonders Kate, in The Viscount Who Loved Me, as her husband begins to seduce her, "Was it possible to fall in love with the same man over and over again, every single day?"

"Kate sighed as she settled into the pillows, letting his wicked words wash over her," writes Quinn. "By God, she was going to try."

Season 2 of Bridgerton is streaming now on Netflix.

Related Articles