Bridgerton Season 3 vs. the books: Differences in Colin and Penelope's love story

Spoiler alert: This story includes details of the first four episodes of Netflix's "Bridgerton" Season 3 (now streaming).

Bridgerton is back on Netflix, bringing with it the tension, twists and steamy stories fans of both the show and Julia Quinn book series love.

Season 3 is based on “Romancing Mr. Bridgerton,” the fourth novel of Quinn’s series, and focuses on Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) and Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan). Showrunners skipped Benedict’s love story, the third book, and allowed him to continue in his rakish ways – for now.

The show stays faithful to many of the novel’s Regency-era plot points. As in the book, Penelope helping Colin after he cuts his hand is a pivotal moment in his changing perception of a longtime friend. Her request for him to be her first kiss - “I do not wish to die without ever having been kissed” – rings true and that carriage scene is spot-on sexy.

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton in Season 3 of "Bridgerton".
Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton in Season 3 of "Bridgerton".

But there are significant differences as well. Fan favorite character Queen Charlotte doesn’t exist in the books, neither do the Mondrichs. Lady Tilley Arnold is not Benedict’s lover, nor is there a Lord Marcus Anderson with eyes for Violet, the Bridgerton matriarch. Cressida certainly has no redeeming moments in the books.

Here’s a look at the biggest difference between the Bridgerton books and the first four episodes of Season 3:

Colin doesn’t help Penelope look for a husband

In the book and show, it takes Colin time to realize his feelings for Penelope have changed. Even after he proposes in the books, he grapples with knowing if he’s in love with Penelope and seeks out Daphne for advice.

But what he never does is try to help Penelope stoke affection in another man. And while Penelope wants to get married and build a life away from her family home, she’s resigned to a life of spinsterhood due to her age and awkwardness around strangers.

There is no Lord Debling

L to R: Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington, Sam Phillips as Lord Debling in "Bridgerton" Season 3.
L to R: Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington, Sam Phillips as Lord Debling in "Bridgerton" Season 3.

Bridgerton the show loves a love triangle. In Season 1, Prince Friedrich was the right angle between Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset. Season 2 saw Anthony Bridgerton marry Kate Sharma after a brief courtship of her sister, Edwina.

This time around, the “other guy” is Lord Debling (Sam Phillips), an eligible new suitor looking for a wife. Only there’s nary another suitor in the book, let alone a full-blown love triangle.

Eloise and Cressida aren’t friends

Cressida Cowper is the worst, and Eloise would never befriend her in the books.

TV Cressida (Jessica Madsen) is a more complex and sympathetic character than book Cressida, who’s basically evil. In the show, Cressida suffers under the weight of her strict father and cherishes Eloise (Claudia Jessie) as a true friend. In the books, she only gets more horrible as the entitled wife of Lord Twombley.

Francesca’s suitors

Francesca (Hannah Dodd) is the secondary love story in Season 3. The Queen selects Marquis Samadani (David Mumeni) as her suitor, but she’s drawn to the reserved and dignified John Stirling, Earl of Kilmartin (Victor Alli).

Francesca is already widowed in “Romancing Mr. Bridgerton,” with her husband having died two years into their marriage. Readers don’t get her full story until the sixth book, “When He Was Wicked,” when she finds a second true love.

The unmasking of Lady Whistledown

Viewers find out the identity of Lady Whistledown at the end of Season 1. Readers don’t yet know Penelope is the mastermind writer until the fourth book. Then, it’s Colin who finds out first and Eloise, while surprised, offers her friend congratulations.

The books have a wonderful challenge to unearth Lady Whistledown’s real name and we’ll be waiting to see how that plays out and if Colin makes the Lady Whistledown discovery in the second part of the series, airing June 13.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bridgerton Season 3: Biggest differences between the books and show