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What is it About a Duke?

The Best Bodice Rippers to Read and Watch

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • February 10, 2021

The Thrill of the Bodice Ripper

When we heard that TV producer extraordinaire Shonda Rhimes was adapting Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series for Netflix, we found ourselves a bit breathless with anticipation. It was clear from the get-go that this collab was destined for greatness. Historical romance is a particular favorite around here, and the Bridgerton books are top drawer. Add in the show-making talents of the marvelous Ms. Rhimes and you've got the goods.

However, if you're anything like us, you've already devoured the books and binged the series. Ah, but never fear dear gentle reader, we have plenty more corseted couplings and lustful liaisons to recommend in books, movies, and series.

Riveting Regency Reads

The following elements are paramount when it comes to riveting historical romance like the Regency-era Bridgerton series: steamy romance, salacious scandals, witty repartee, and, of course, a devilishly handsome duke. Here are some of the other titles that tick these boxes.

London's Perfect Scoundrel by Suzanne Enoch
A determined young lady vows to give one of London's infamous rakes his comeuppance. But when the rogue tries to turn the tables, who will end up learning a lesson? As one reader writes, this story "sizzles with chemistry."

The Wedding by Julie Garwood
Lady Brenna is resigned to her fate as she journeys from England to Scotland for an arranged marriage. But when a band of fierce, painted rebel warriors captures her en route, fate takes a surprising turn.

Indigo by Beverly Jenkins
As a child Hester Wyatt escaped slavery, but now she is a dedicated member of the Underground Railroad. When one of her fellow conductors brings her an injured man to hide, she doesn't hesitate, no matter the danger.

Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean
Since she's officially achieved spinster status, Hattie decides that she's going to make the most of her twenty-ninth year of life. But finding the most attractive man she's ever seen tied up in her carriage wasn't part of the plan.

A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian
For the first time in her life, Alice Stapleton has absolutely nothing to do. The only thing that seems to occupy her thoughts is Molly Wilkins, a lady's maid with a sharp tongue and a beautiful mouth.

The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare
Like Bridgerton, Dare's books feature plenty of wit and comedic hijinks. Here, the titular wallflower is the animal-loving Lady Penelope. When the grumpy duke next door demands that she get rid of her pets, she strikes a deal with him.

Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase
In this delightful spin on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, the question is who's taming whom? Cassandra Pomfret's reputation is on the line and the dashing (but maddeningly mischievous) Duke of Ashmont may be the only one who can help.

Worth the Watch

The recent success of shows like the Outlander series, based on the Diana Gabaldon books, has networks scrambling to find titillating historical romances to option. As luck would have it, producer Shonda Rhimes came by Bridgerton entirely by accident. As author Quinn says, "It's crazy to think that my life is forever changed because Shonda didn't bring enough reading material on vacation, but that's honestly what happened." Here are some films and shows that may fill the void after you've finished binging the current season.


Tulip Fever
Set in 17th-century Amsterdam, this story, based on a novel of the same name, follows a married woman who begins a passionate affair with the artist hired to paint her portrait. The lovers gamble on the booming tulip market as a way to raise money to run away together.

Madame Bovary
This adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's classic novel stars Mia Wasikowska as the young beauty seeking excitement outside the bonds of her impulsive marriage to a stodgy small-town doctor.

A Little Chaos
Kate Winslet plays a strong-willed landscape designer chosen to build one of the main gardens at King Louis XIV's new palace at Versailles. In her new position, she challenges barriers while also becoming entangled with the court's renowned artist.

Television Series:

The Borgias
Set in Renaissance-era Italy, this series follows the infamous crime family in their scandalous ascension to the papacy. Cruel and decadent, the Borgias use any means necessary in their relentless quest for wealth and power.

The Tudors
The Tudors is a series set in the sixteenth century following the life of King Henry VIII. The ruler was known for his dramatic and turbulent personal life, i.e. six wives, so viewers can expect plenty of scandal, sex, and intrigue.

In a Machiavellian political move, Louis XIV decides to move his court from Paris to Versailles, his father's former hunting lodge. As the king renovates and expands his new palace, the nobles become embroiled in increasingly dangerous intrigues.

Saucy, steamy historical romances delivered! Hopefully these will help satisfy your desires for petticoats and passion until season two of Bridgerton arrives. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily book recommendations, literary tidbits, and more.

Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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