Romancing Mr Bridgerton
Title: Romancing Mr Bridgerton
Author: Julia Quinn
Published: 2nd July 2002
Genre: Romance, Historical, Fiction
Number of Pages: 370
Start Date: 7th March 2022
Finish Date: 9th March 2022
Everyone knows that Colin Bridgerton is the most charming man in London. Penelope Featherington has secretly adored her best friend's brother for well, it feels like forever. After half a lifetime of watching Colin Bridgerton from afar, she thinks she knows everything about him, until she stumbles across his deepest secret and fears she doesn't know him at all.
Colin Bridgerton is tired of being thought nothing but an empty-headed charmer, tired of everyone's preoccupation with the notorious gossip columnist Lady Whistledown, who can't seem to publish an edition without mentioning him in the first paragraph. But when Colin returns to London from a trip abroad he discovers nothing in his life is quite the same; especially Penelope Featherington! The girl haunting his dreams. But when he discovers that Penelope has secrets of her own, this elusive bachelor must decide is she his biggest threat or his promise of a happy ending?
I am finding it really hard reading this; after reading the other books it has been hard seeing Penelope and Colin's relationship. Before long I started to fall in love with the story. Before reading this book there was nothing not to like about Colin, but to be honest I spent the majority of the book not liking him at all. At times he came across as a huge jerk, he was blowing his top every time the wind blew. One minute he was fine, next minute he was cold and rude. His temper was just too much. If I was Penelope I would not have tolerated it, no matter how much I love him.
Penelope is sweet and smart. I felt bad that after being the shy wallflower that everyone acted like was a ugly plain girl, to have the man of your dream finally want you, only to have him snapping at you at the drop of a hat was just sad.
This was a childhood friends to lovers kind of story. the hero and heroine weren't besties growing up but they definitely spent a lot of time together and that sort of made the heroine invisible to the hero for a while. watching him figure out what an absolute gem Penelope was, was such a treat.
Penelope Featherington. She freshly comes out to society, out to meet the ton, with an excess of a few stones in her weight, and either orange/yellow/red gowns which doesn’t do her complexion any good. We can’t blame her. Her mother is a tyrant. But Penelope knows she doesn’t look good. The entire ton would agree with her. She also lacks the confidence to show her sharp wit to at least make up for her disgraceful attire. And instead of being seen as an intellectual lady with a terrible fashion sense, she’s seen as a stuttering plump and overripe orange, only worthy of staying at the sidelines as a wallflower.
Season after season, she manages to improve herself, losing the extra weight, however never being able to get rid of the horrendous clothes her mother has been forcing her, but still the ton doesn’t see her, or rather refuses to see her as her beautiful self. And she ends up on the spinster shelf.
Colin Bridgerton. What more could he ask for? He’s loaded with good looks and charm. And he’s a Bridgerton. So, what more? Unfortunately, one does find it hard to seek contentment with just what he has. He has sought refuge in his travels. He’s not just the charming easygoing gentleman everyone thinks, because behind his beguiling smile are tons of layers of insecurities and dissatisfaction with his life.
One of the things I love the most is how in this work of fiction lies real people with real problems. How can we not relate to either one or both of them? Who hasn’t been insecure a few times in their life? Who hasn’t felt the fear of looking like a fool? Who hasn’t dreaded not being able to search their life’s purpose?
Colin is the third son, and has featured in the previous books as a good-humoured, devil-may-care sort of chap; easy going with a killer smile, good sense of humour, able to laugh at himself and always ready with a quip or witty rejoinder. He’s all of those things, but by the age of thirty-three, has started to feel a little disgruntled at being thought of by practically everyone in society as just “A Bridgerton”. His brother is the viscount, his next eldest brother, Benedict, is making a name for himself as an artist but Colin; well, he’s not sure exactly what and who he is, and doesn’t quite know what he wants to do or to be, either.
Being a friend of the Bridgerton sisters means that Penelope has also been frequently in the company of the brothers, too, all of whom are friendly and treat her almost as one of the family, making a point of asking her to dance at balls or seeking her out at other functions. For years, Penelope has harboured a tendre for Colin, but has no hope of a return, why should he look at an unprepossessing woman like her when he’s one of society’s darlings; handsome, charming and witty, he is not without female admirers blessed with both youth and beauty and he can have any woman he wants.
Julia Quinn freshens up the trope and gives it extra depth by virtue of her characterisation of the two principals. Colin is restless; he travels a lot and in fact spends more time abroad than he does in England. He is tired of being thought of as someone who is only good for a laugh and wants to actually do something with his life but he has no idea what until one day, Penelope inadvertently stumbles upon one of his travel journals and is so engrossed by his writing that she suggests he publish them. At first, Colin is furious at her having read his private journals and they quarrel, but eventually, her genuine enthusiasm and praise for his writing surprise and humble him and start him thinking that perhaps this is what he’s meant to do, and he takes her suggestion to heart.
Previously the perennial wallflower, Penelope has discovered that spinsterhood has its benefits; not only because she can dress as she wants, but because she feels free to be more herself and doesn’t have to put up with her mother’s constant attempts to marry her off. But Penelope has been keeping a huge secret from everyone around her for years; something that started as a way for her to fight back at those who looked down on her and that would ruin her if it ever got out. I’m not going to say more here because it’s a massive spoiler; but this secret is the book’s other major plotline and leads to some major conflict between Colin and Penelope later on.
But the real strength of this instalment in the series is in the characterisation and subtle development of the two leads. Penelope’s infatuation with Colin is of long-standing; she fell for his looks and charm without really knowing him, and during the course of the story discovers that he’s not the perfect man she had imagined, but she still loves him.
Colin knows Penelope only as the slightly plump, shy friend of his sisters, but through spending time with her, comes to realise that she’s also intelligent, quick-witted and lovely. Neither of them really knows how or why things are changing between them, they just know that they are, and those moments when they both start to really see each other; the best parts of any friends-to-lovers romance; are beautifully done.
It’s a heart-warming, funny, and delightful feel good romance with a swoon-worthy hero and an adorable heroine that will have you smiling, laughing, crying, cheering, sighing, and perhaps wishing for your very own Mr. Colin Bridgerton. Anyone who has been reading the Bridgerton series should read this book, but I believe this would also be a lovely book to be read on its own.