Review: Lady Bridget’s Diary by Maya Rodale

Reviewed by Olive

Lady Bridget’s Diary is the first book of the ‘Keeping Up With the Cavendishes’ series by Maya Rodale (click here for a review of Book 2: Chasing Lady Amelia). I have to admit – I was more than a little skeptical at the idea of a Regency romance based on Bridget Jones’s Diary (BJD), a modern romantic comedy based on Pride and Prejudice (PnP), a Regency romance. It was either going to be amazingly meta … or amazingly mediocre. I’m happy to say this landed firmly in the former camp 😉

Tropes & Archetypes

For those unfamiliar with the story(ies) – these are a classic intersection of enemies-to-lovers with love triangles. On one side of our triangle, we’ve got the enticing rake who is gregarious, flirts outrageously, and admires our heroine. On the other, we’ve got the haughty, cold fish who despises her …

I realise this doesn’t sound like much of a competition but, as so often happens, things are not always what they seem. The rake is, alas, a rake and disappoints our heroine. The cold fish turns out to be smouldering beneath that unflappable exterior. This is enemies-to-lovers and as the story progresses our allegiance shifts (and shifts). Rodale pays gorgeous homage to both versions and yet this is very much its own story, a delightful love child of the regency roots and modern humour.

Our Heroine

Our heroine, Lady Bridget Cavendish, has just come to England after growing up on an American horse farm. Many years ago, her scandalous rogue of a father absconded across the pond with the best stallion from his family’s stables. Dad somehow neglected to mention to Bridget, or her siblings, that he was the second son of a duke. The four Cavendish siblings have come back across the pond to make their debut as Bridget’s brother, James, has just inherited a dukedom. As such, they’re facing a steep learning curve and a bunch of snobs predisposed to sneer at their foibles. Lady Bridget, as the title suggests, keeps track of their (mis)adventures in her diary, along with her innermost thoughts and feelings.

Her … Hero(es)?

Colin Fitzwilliam Wright, Lord Darcy is everything a gentleman should be: rich, titled, and bored with the world around him. He’s got an understanding with the prettiest girl on the market but isn’t in any rush to settle down. He’s also in full agreement with his peers that the gauche behavior on display by these upstart Americans will lead to the downfall of civilization. Lady Bridget is quick to confirm him in this opinion by falling on her ass walking through the ballroom at her debut. Lord Darcy’s brother, Rupert, is his fun-loving foil and immediately takes to Lady Bridget, despite the fact that they haven’t been properly introduced. Chaos, as they say, ensues.

Analysis

Rodale uses the culture clash to poke fun at the more ridiculous rules of the haute ton without taking the mockery too far. It’s clear that Bridget wants to fit in and, while some of that is rooted in her insecurities, a big part of it is also that she’s captivated by her new role and genuinely embracing it. The glimpses into her diary, for the most part, move the story along and provide helpful segues. We get Darcy’s POV and so we’re able to fall in love with him ahead of the curve. Lord Darcy’s rival, for the attention and affection of a woman he isn’t even sure he wants, being his younger brother ramps up the triangle-related angst, at least until Rupert’s big reveal.

I really appreciate the way that Rodale drives the romance between Lady Bridget and Lord Darcy. The updates to the story, especially around the rake character, were beautifully done – maintaining the angst and outrage while allowing the reader to feel sympathetically toward his plight (something I can’t really bring myself to do for Wickham in PnP). There are obvious updates catering to modern sensibilities and they work well within the framework Rodale has developed. This isn’t the most historically accurate book (or series) out there, so if you’re a stickler for accuracy take note. There wasn’t anything in this one that detracted from my enjoyment so I’d still heartily recommend it to everyone. As with everything, YMMV.

If, like me, you’re a fan of Pride & Prejudice as well as Bridget Jones’s Diary, you’ll find loads of lovely Easter eggs. If you’ve never read them, you’ll find a fun romp of a culture clash historical. I’m fairly certain this stands on its own, though that’s difficult for me to judge considering my familiarity with both other works.

Rating: A-

Click to purchase: Amazon

Lady Bridget’s Diary
by Maya Rodale
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Avon


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