Warning: potential spoilers ahead!
Fetch the smelling salts! It was recently announced that breakout star Regé-Jean Page, who played the steamy Duke of Hastings, Simon Bassett, will not be returning for the show’s second season. Millions of horrified fans swooned when they heard the news—and not in a good way.
But fret not! As someone who has read ahead, I can assure you that Season Two will be better than Season One.
Your Grace, it has been a pleasure. 💜🐝 pic.twitter.com/kX1nIG8pz7
— Bridgerton (@bridgerton) April 2, 2021
How do I know this, you ask? Well, like you, dear reader, I fell in love with Bridgerton. But not for the reason you might think. Many became obsessed with Bridgerton because of its focus in Season One: Daphne and Simon’s love story. While Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor played their roles beautifully and fogged up our screens with their off-the-charts chemistry, they were not what sucked me into this show.
It was Anthony Bridgerton, Daphne’s overprotective eldest brother, played by Jonathan Bailey, who did it for me. Despite this, when I watched Anthony scare off all of Daphne’s romantic prospects in the first episode, barricading her from her one goal (ahem, marriage), I thought, God this guy is annoying.
It wasn’t until he had more scenes to himself that I sat up. One of my favorite scenes is in episode two when Simon reveals to Anthony how Lord Nigel Berbrooke got a purple eye (by making untoward advances on Daphne the night before). He immediately breaks off his sister’s engagement to the self-serving Berbrooke, almost making a scene in the process.
Sure, Anthony didn’t give Daphne a choice when he betrothed her to Berbrooke, but he almost got violent when he heard that the guy tried to force himself on her. He is only trying to give his sister what’s best. He is struggling in his role as the head of the Bridgerton family, a role that was thrust upon him at a very young age after his father’s death. This internal conflict will become much more important in the next season (and book) of the series.
The show is riddled with nods to the second book and Anthony’s arc. Remember the bees? Why was Anthony constantly checking the time? What’s up with the repeated mentions of the late Viscount Bridgerton, and how much love there was between him and his widow Lady Violet? Perhaps the biggest piece of foreshadowing for what’s to come was in the Season One finale when Anthony vowed to Daphne and Simon that he’d never marry for love.
The attention on Anthony Bridgerton, subtle though it was, captured my curiosity.
So I bought my first Bridgerton book; not the first novel, The Duke and I, but the fan-favorite The Viscount Who Loved Me, the second book in the nine-part series. Here, Simon and Daphne barely make an appearance, which is one of the reasons why I’m not surprised by or concerned with Page leaving the show. If the writers base the next season on The Viscount Who Loved Me, Simon wouldn’t have made much of an appearance anyway.
Who will make an appearance then, you ask? Why, none other than Lord Bridgerton and Kate Sheffield, who will be known as Kate Sharma in the show.
The book starts with the classic love/hate trope often found in period romances. Kate arrives in London for the social season with her half-sister, Edwina, and her step-mother, Mary. At the same time, Anthony is of the firm belief that if he abandons bachelorhood and settles down with a wife, he will make his dead father proud and honor the Bridgerton name.
But a darker reason drives this goal. Remember all those times we saw Anthony check his pocket watch? His father died before his 39th birthday, and because Anthony had the closest relationship with his father out of all the Bridgerton children, he believes that he, too, will die young. Therefore, he must ensure the continuation of the Bridgerton viscountcy and sire an heir before his impending death.
He decides that his wife must be beautiful on top of intelligent, and sets his sights on Edwina, who is the season’s “diamond of the first water”, the pretty one, the one all the dandies in London flock to while Kate, our heroine, is left on the sidelines. Anthony would never even have noticed Kate if Edwina hadn’t declared that a man must win Kate’s approval before proposing in marriage.
Immediately disliking the viscount because of his rakish reputation, Kate and Anthony get off on the wrong foot, despite the instant chemistry, attraction, and intimate, heartwarming bond that only grows stronger as the two of them heal each other’s fears and insecurities with love and support. This is in stark contrast to Daphne and Simon’s story, which is peppered with miscommunication and selfishness. Forcing a guy to change his mind about wanting kids definitely won’t make him feel trapped, right Daphne?
In The Viscount Who Loved Me, you don’t have to worry about potentially toxic behavior. Anthony and Kate have a better connection simply because it’s built on respect.
After finishing their story, I methodically followed all of Bridgerton’s social media accounts and anxiously awaited casting news on who would play Kate. Simone Ashley was cast in the role, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. She embodies Kate’s look; beautiful and alluring, but not in the classic, delicate way of Daphne or Edwina. This is important; her lack of classical beauty up against the attractive, womanizing Viscount Bridgerton is a source of one of her vulnerabilities.
This is also what makes her relationship with Anthony so special; he is utterly attracted to her and she doesn’t see it because she has always been told she isn’t pretty enough. Also, Kate’s firm-mindedness compliments Anthony’s stubborn arrogance. These are the traits that the two admire in each other the most, and I can’t wait to see how Bailey and Ashley portray these beloved, fiery characters.
So no, the Duke won’t grace our screens next season, but we will see the Viscount and the story of how he secures his Viscountess, which is a much better one. It will be the talk of the ton when we watch the guarded, arrogant Anthony Bridgerton becomes humbled by a fiery woman who doesn’t faint at the sight of him, and yet at the same time sees him as her equal, her confidant, and most importantly, her friend.
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