By Joseph Reilly
When I first started watching the Bridgerton series on Netflix, aside from noticing the change in mood from my wife, I noticed one other familiar thing: I’ve written numerous stories just like it. There’s a sexy Duke, a scandal, and more ups and downs than you’d expect from a period without smartphones. It took me a quick Google search to realize that of course, the series was based on the Bridgerton books, written by Julia Quinn, but more importantly, I found it ironic how the same people that often laugh at the books with the Fabio guys on the cover were also craving a show with the very same content.
The regency genre rarely make any best books 2021 lists, but they sure as hell sell
Same format same tropes
When the show ended, my wife insisted that she read the Bridgerton books in order. And so she bought the first one off Amazon right after finishing the first season. And I was amazed at that. Because aside from being an author of my books, I ghostwrite for a ton of clients. And these clients often request books in the Regency genre. Before Bridgerton, I grew aware of the popularity of these books were themes of having an Earl’s daughter be forced into marriage because of social pressure. But I hadn’t known just how popular they were. That was until I reached two episodes into Bridgerton and realized that the entire country was entranced with the very same format and tropes that we tend to mock when we see them on the discount shelf at CVS. The regency genre rarely makes any best books 2021 lists, but they sure as hell sell.
the demand is there
Although Bridgerton probably will make that books to read 2021 list, you probably won’t see many Regency-era novels on The New York Times Best Seller list. Yet, the demand is there. Publishing companies like Cobalt Fairy churn out novels in the genre every month and have a surprising audience. On Amazon alone, the genre moves good numbers. And just looking at how many Google searches there are for Bridgerton season two if anything has been proved it’s that Bridgerton Netflix is just as lucrative as the books are. Bridgerton shows that when you take the formula out of the books and put it into another well-crafted medium, it works just as well.
People want to mock series like Twilight, yet a book like Midnight Sun makes a dent in the sales chart. Even the actor who played the Duke of Hastings in Bridgerton, Rege Jean Page compared the show to a McDonald’s Happy Meal. But despite the stigma of genres like Twilight’s teen romance or Bridgerton’s regency romance, the formula works. My wife who loves the show, and now the books, told me that her great grandmother used to read regency all the time. That’s two generations ago.
So next time you’re in the aisle at CVS, and you see a sexy Duke straddling an Earl’s daughter on the cover of a book, you may see it as a trashy read. But maybe you shouldn’t, because although cheesy, we could all use a timeless guilty pleasure from time to time, like a happy meal.