Sophie Beckett is the illegitimate daughter of the earl of Penwood and that fact has marred her entire life. Raised by servants in a life of privilege until her father’s untimely death, Sophie is brutally cast down into the world of the servants by her stepmother, who hates her. One day, Sophie’s stepmother and stepsisters head off to a ball at the Bridgertons’. Knowing how much she wants to go to this ball, the servants conspire to help her attend. There, she meets Benedict Bridgerton and sparks fly, but she has to leave at the stroke of midnight. Benedict, enchanted, fails to find her, until they meet again several years later. Sophie has fled her stepfamily and taken a service job at a home where Benedict attends a party. He doesn’t recognize her, but takes her to his cottage with him when she is forced to leave her job, and unsurprisingly, sparks fly once again.
As you can tell, this is a retelling of the ever-popular Cinderella story, but goes beyond the typical legend. Benedict does not find her when he looks for her, and instead falls in love with her a second time, as a servant. The class struggle in Regency Britain is bitterly visible here; Sophie’s bastardy blemishes her entire life as her stepmother hides her inheritance and thus does not allow her to be a lady. She can’t even dream of marrying Benedict as a simple servant. That doesn’t stop this couple, though, as the Bridgerton family isn’t your typical aristocratic family, and I loved the way it all turned out in the end.
Naturally, this is darker than the first two novels in the Bridgerton series, but if possible, I loved it even more. I loved what it revealed about society and I grew very attached to these two in particular. In addition to Sophie’s reduced status, Benedict struggles with his identity and disappearing within his large family. He comes into his own here in making his own family rather than just vanishing behind his many brothers and sisters. Quinn always deals with these real issues in her romance novels, making them deeper than your average bodice ripper (and there isn’t much bodice ripping here, either, I think just one scene, so if that’s what you’re looking for, look elsewhere!).
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