Many of us sat down today and started streaming Bridgerton on Netflix. The TV show is such a big deal it’s been (positively) reviewed in both the Washington Post and the New York Times. I particularly love the WaPo review–it nailed why so many of us are likely to adore the show. Critic Hank Stuever wrote:

No one can lay a special claim of ownership on the TV period drama. It is not sacred space or a part of a historical preservation act. It’s make-believe, and therefore communal property. The crunchy gravel, the chandeliers, the gardens, the grand foyers, the full-length gloves, the piano forte, the needlepoint, the riding boots, the love letters sent in great haste. All of this is surely fair game for fresh takes just as much as, say, the hospital drama, the legal thriller or the noir mystery. These deeply entrenched genres are in constant need of a satisfyingly new spin.

This is the prevailing thought when one watches Netflix’s enjoyably rambunctious (if a tad overblown) period drama “Bridgerton,” the first big offering to come out of the streaming giant’s significant deal with Shonda Rhimes….

The show’s first season (and we hope, not last) is based on the first of the series, The Duke and I, a book that none of the AAR reviewers would choose as her favorite. Here are the books we love the most.

Caz: The Viscount Who Loved Me holds a very special place in my heart because it was one of the first historical romances I ever read.  I have a soft spot for that type of story – where the hero falls for someone he’s not supposed to fall for – the writing is deft and witty, the characters are engaging and the chemistry between Anthony and Kate is delicious.

For some reason, I read the books out of order and didn’t actually read some of them until they came out in audio format a few years back.  And it was then that I discovered another favourite – To Sir Phillip With Love.  It seems to be one of the most underrated books in the set, perhaps because it’s not as lively and frothy as some of the others. But I like that it tackles some darker themes and presents us with a deeply flawed hero –  Phillip is not always likeable, but the author does a great job of shedding light on his character and making you want to root for him even when you want to smack some sense into him!  It’s a captivating and compelling love story.

I can never pick just one!!

But those choices are from maybe 15 years apart – interesting that I went for the angstier one more recently.

Blythe: It’s been a long time since I have read the Bridgerton books – I couldn’t believe, when I looked, that the first ones were twenty years old. My youngest son, who is about to graduate from college, was a baby! What I remember from the time is that Julia Quinn really took a series concept and ran with it, and she did it well. I remember Romancing Mr. Bridgerton as my favorite, mostly because of the build up that preceded it regarding the revelation of Lady Whistledown’s identity. But also because I liked Colin. I have a huge soft spot for heroes who are viewed as somewhat feckless or shallow, a soft spot that absolutely extends to my personal life and romance. Colin is such a hero. Perhaps it is time for a grand re-read.

Evelyn: Hard to pick but I’ll say The Viscount Who Loved Me because of the pall mall scene. And I love how Anthony tries so hard to be the man of the family but that he is really still so vulnerable after his dad’s death so many years ago. Kate is the perfect partner for him – helping him be the lead his family needs but not letting him get a big head about it.

Jessica: To Sir Phillip, With Love

Lisa: The Viscount Who Loved Me. Anthony’s gradual opening to Kate’s love – and his realization that love will triumph over death – delighted me. I love MANY of Quinn’s heroines, but Kate, bar none, is my favorite.

Dabney: Whew. Not an easy question and, yes, I know I posed it. At first I thought Romancing Mr. Bridgerton because I love Penelope and I love the Lady Whistledown reveal. But, I have found, over the years, that I’ve reread The Viscount Who Loved Me far more frequently and I adore the banter in that book. At the end of the day, however, I’m a sucker for the best love story and that, for me, is that of Michael and Francesca. (I also adore all the Colin scenes in the book.) When I Was Wicked is the sexiest of all the books but it’s also the saddest and offers the most hard won HEA.

Shannon: I love When He Was Wicked for its complex storyline and deeply nuanced characters. It’s one of those haunting stories that remains with you long after you finish the book.

Which is your favorite? Why? And, if you had to pick a scene in the series you think is priceless, which would you pick? (Pall-mall, yes we know!)

If you’ve watched the show, what did you think?