After her brother unexpectedly inherits a dukedom, Lady Bridget Cavendish and her siblings find themselves struggling to adjust to life in England while facing society’s gossip. Bridget is determined to turn herself into a True Lady – a goal that seems unreachable when she slips and falls during her very first ball. Even worse, the aloof and self-restrained Lord Darcy is there to witness her embarrassing attempts. Soon, Bridget is pouring her heart out in her diary, with frequent mentions of her dislike for the Dreadful Darcy. But given that Bridget and Darcy are now neighbours, they keep running into each other. And before long, kissing is involved. So when Bridget’s diary – and all its secrets – goes missing, she and Darcy must figure out how to save their reputations, and maybe fall in love while they’re at it.
Lady Bridget’s Diary is Maya Rodale’s most recent publication and marks the start of a new series about the Cavendishes, a quartet of American siblings trying to make their way among England’s aristocracy. As the title and the synopsis suggests, Rodale drew inspiration from Bridget Jones’ Diary, which (of course) takes its own inspiration from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The main characters from both find their way into Lady Bridget’s Diary as does some memorable lines. As it turns out, Lord Darcy ends like liking Lady Bridget, just as she is. There are still a few twists and touches that make this book Rodale’s own, and careful readers will notice glimpses and glances of Rodale’s Writing Girls, The London Weekly newspaper, and her Wallflowers (all from previous novels).
Above all, Lady Bridget’s Diary is a fun, enjoyable book to read and credit for that largely goes to Bridget herself. I’ve read many historical romances with heroines who don’t fit in with society’s expectations or who wish to cast off the restraints of the ton’s Ideal Lady, but there was still something refreshing about Bridget. Perhaps it was her American forthrightness, or her yearning desire to be considered a success in the eyes of others. She is an easy character to root for, especially when she learns to accept herself and her flaws, society be damned. Meanwhile, Lord Darcy is just as stuffy and reticent as any Darcy-inspired character to be, though Rodale hints at more. There are several mentions to Darcy’s youth and to his father’s stern and unyielding influence, indicating that Darcy used to be more carefree and fun, but felt honour-bound to stifle his true nature as the heir. It’s an interesting interpretation on the character and I appreciated Rodale’s efforts to dig deeper into why Darcy is…well, Darcy.
Rodale has indicated on her blog that each of the other Cavendish siblings (Claire, Amelia, and James) will get their own book and that all four stories will overlap and take place roughly at the same time. Accordingly, Lady Bridget’s Diary features small nods and hints to those other stories still to come and I rather like mining the book for clues while forming hypotheses. The simultaneous stories does mean that there is a lot of moving parts in Lady Bridget’s Diary and it does detract a bit from Bridget and Darcy’s story. Additionally, a subplot involving a mystery and Darcy’s brother Rupert was resolved far too quickly and a bit off-handedly for me. That plot thread does play into the missing diary piece of the novel, but the book would have also been fine without it. For that matter, I wish Rodale had included more of Bridget’s diary entries. Given that the climax centred around its disappearance, I would have liked to know more about its salacious secrets.
Overall, however, Lady Bridget’s Diary is filled with delightful characters and a sweet, entertaining story. While there is conflict to overcome, there is a minimal amount of angst, which makes reading this latest book from Maya Rodale a joy from start to finish. And for a bit of more fun, check of Rodale’s blog post about how she really feels about Mr. Darcy – I think you’ll be surprised!
I received an advanced copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
[Photo Credit: Goodreads]