Book | Show: Julia Quinn’s The Viscount Who Loved Me and Netflix’s Bridgerton
Featured Characters: Kate Sharma and Anthony Bridgerton
“This Author is of the firm opinion that theirs was a love match. Viscount Bridgerton does not escort his wife to every society function (but then again, what husband does?), but when he is present, This Author cannot fail to note that he always seems to be murmuring something in his lady’s ear, and that something always seems to make her smile and blush. Furthermore, he always dances with her one more time than is considered de rigueur. Considering how many husbands don’t like to dance with their wives at all, this is romantic stuff, indeed.”Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers June 10, 1814
We cannot attempt to form words more substantial than Lady Whistledown’s June 10th, 1814 column, but we shall certainly try. Lord and Lady Bridgerton—Kate Sharma and Anthony Bridgerton are forces to be reckoned with, individually and through all their exquisite and wondrous bits intermingling together. A more exemplary romantic pair there is yet to be.
From enemies to lovers, their relationship grows beautifully throughout The Viscount Who Loved Me as Julia Quinn represents the indescribable healing that’s excavated through shared vulnerability and happiness. Kate Sharma and Anthony Bridgerton’s relationship starts slow—it’s gradual, there’s plenty of fighting they both do, not just in opposition to each other, but against their own feelings and all that is within. What we get with them, what we see—it’s contentment actualized and understanding wrapped in laughter, healing, and unceasing adoration.
Writer’s Note: This deep dive is significantly different than anything I’ve done before. As a couple so incredibly important to me, Kate and Anthony deserved something different, something that was theirs and theirs alone. And thus, I decided to structure their relationship’s progression through songs that remind me of them, allowing the lyrics to bleed into their story.
Kate Sharma and Anthony Bridgerton – Safe and Sound
It is a rare and sincerely discernable thing to find someone with whom the world is safe and sound, even while chaos unremittingly ensues. And long before the two exchange declarations of love, the serenity they find with one another remains unmatched.
There’s a language the two speak that no one else can understand despite how well they know them individually—it’s theirs and theirs alone because it’s evidence of the master plan that always wanted them together. As they challenge each other in the beginning, their souls find underlying joy in the dance that transpires before their hearts catch up.
In the gardens, or the quiet moments alone when they shouldn’t have been close by, staying apart would’ve always been impossible for the two. They are drawn together by a tether stronger than the potency of their fears combined. In their choice to love one another through the disarray, they bring out the best parts of each other not by changing who they are at their core, but by effortlessly inspiring them to work on themselves, with a hand holding on tightly in case they stumble.
But seldom does love come easy, and it’s effortless to appreciate how Julia Quinn sets up their conflict in the form of working through internal battles to find healing jointly. Kate Sharma and Anthony Bridgerton are many things, but together—they’re safe and sound. Whether said aloud or creased underneath dark circles, their love takes them through heartbreaking battlefields, constellations ablaze, and storms unfurling, but in the end, they are stronger as a result of it.
To get to the heart of Kate Sharma and Anthony Bridgerton’s love story, it’s imperative that we examine what they do to one another before a friendship blooms in adversary. What makes their attraction to one another so maddening, if not the detail that they are the very last person the other would even dare to think a yearning thought for?
It’s the sharp stab of something that probes right as they least expect it when gazing a bit too long in the eyes of someone who harbors the same afflictions. The undeniable magnetism forces their armor to tighten and defenses to push through, keeping every ounce of the good out because looking in towards the nightmares demands fighting a war neither is prepared for.
But something happens during that first dance as they thoroughly get under each other’s skin, picking apart the pieces of themselves that they hide from everyone else, briefly seeing fragments of their familiar anxieties as they banter and bite off each other’s quips. It sets up what’ll be a tormenting wicked game for both Kate and Anthony in a way that allows us to get deep inside of their heads to understand what it is that they’ve always wanted.
As Anthony dreams of her, intoxicated by the scent of soap and lilies intermixing with the unbearable contentment he doesn’t know how to wrestle with, it’s the first time he dreams of possibilities. It’s the first time we see that in this indefatigable game they play, he is full of hope again, despite his inability to understand the transcendence of the fire that’s stirring from their vexations.
Bridgerton Season 2 puts a bit of a slap on this notion by adding the forbidden love trope to their relationship, allowing a shadow to plague them alongside their feelings. But nevertheless, in The Viscount Who Loved Me, as the tension between Kate and Anthony grows, the fears worsen because the potential of sharing those terrors with someone equates to dealing with the trauma without armor. Because even his thought process in the study—in everything following, it’s remarkable. And throughout the series, despite the changes, you can pinpoint the small ways in which Jonathan Bailey allows Anthony to lose himself in the possibilities of Kate.
How Anthony loses himself slowly in the contentment and pushes back is so riveting to look into because when we later examine Kate’s feelings, we can understand how deeply it saddens her, particularly after the storm. But what if she saved him? What if, for once, the Heavens were looking out for him? What if they had sent him Kate to heal his soul? He could drink himself into a stupor, but that could make it worse. Or it could make it better. And this is largely what transpires after Daphne Bridgerton then catches them in the study during “Victory” because it’s once again a dance that sets every part of him adrift, followed by the conversation in extremely close quarters.
Life to Come
In both The Viscount Who Loved Me and Bridgerton Season 2—the course of romance shifts for Kate Sharma and Anthony Bridgerton at Aubrey Hall. It’s where emotions grow so powerful that neither could deny their hold on each other. Amidst a field of green and inside the library, vulnerability becomes more challenging to avoid when their souls demand to continue dancing. And that’s the liberating clasp between them as Kate first realizes that underneath his roguish repute, behind the fire in his eyes, a broken boy desperately longs for someone who could lift the heavy fears aside.
And he’ll never say as much, not immediately, not in the library, not in their bed chambers either, but Kate waits patiently, hoping for the day where he’d come to her. Yet, before she is even his, before anything crosses between them, she shows it—through a swift change in his expression, she sees the flash of pain in the brief second before he turns away.
Though vastly different in the show, Simone Ashley solidifies Kate’s concrete understanding by showing us that she’s looking towards the scars in his heart, brought on by the newfound knowledge of learning about his father’s death. As her expression changes ever-so-slightly, we merely need to look into her eyes as she validates the detail that she realizes, with every bone in her body, all the reasons why he crumbled at the sight of a bee. (It’s not just the obvious, it’s everything beyond.) Despite the striking differences in the adaptation, it’s evident that Kate sees a veiled part of Anthony another soul has yet to observe, losing even herself in the brief fusion of their shared sorrow before a sudden clap of thunder jolts her back to the present.
Through every stolen breath they take from one another, they seldom realize how freely they give to each other. The effortless pull their bodies have on one another as their hands reach for the faintest touch. The carefully symmetrical moves they make to align themselves on the same orbit, standing as aligned as tulips do. In The Viscount Who Loved Me, this is especially prevalent when we consider how connected Kate feels to the anxieties within him even when he’s silent.
She is safe beside him and knows as much, even when she doesn’t believe she needs security or warmth. Because of what she couldn’t share with others, fearing that she’d burden them through it, wanting to protect them from all the pain, she could allow Anthony to carry those crosses in the same way she desires to carry his. While she unknowingly allows it amidst her panic, it’s still a tremendous sign of how they’re willing to help each other.
“Eventually, he managed to scoot himself under the table so that he was sitting beside her on the floor, with his arm around her trembling shoulders. She seemed to relax slightly at his touch, which left him with the oddest feeling—almost a sense of pride that he had been the one to be able to help her. That, and a bone-deep feeling of relief, because it was killing him to see her in such torment.”
There’s much to be said about how Anthony lowers himself to her crouched position, marking himself as a true equal and someone who understands everything she’s going through. It’s the detail that we are aware it kills him to see her this way, how we know the depth of his pain when the storm later invades her sleep as he’s holding her in his arms. In the series, Jonathan Bailey allows us to see Anthony’s palpable concerns when even the possibility of her room not being comfortable enough touches on how desperately he wants to see her well. No matter their broken pieces, they look for ways to stitch the other’s wounds instead.
The underlying dejection that Kate Sharma and Anthony Bridgerton carry deep within is a hopeful lodestone that draws them closer. It’s drinking too much tea, making one-off statements that result in even greater affirmations, changing their plans from attending balls to spending more time together, riding together, and more. Much of this is what we see in The Viscount Who Loved Me where before they even declare (or come to terms) with their love for each other, they gravitate towards wanting to spend more time together—realizing in those small moments that they’re in the presence of their best friend.
It’s especially prominent for Anthony Bridgerton closer to the end—“He stared at her as she drifted off, then watched her as she slumbered. He watched the way her eyes sometimes moved under her sleepy eyelids. He measured the pace of her breathing by counting the gentle rise and fall of her chest. He listened for each sigh, each mumble. There were certain memories a man wanted to sear on his brain, and this was one of them.”
The contentment comes to life most profoundly during these moments as we understand that these quiet reflections are instances he never thought would be possible for him. This is the moment where he understands, with utmost conviction, that despite his inability to admit that he loves her, despite the refusal to grasp that he’s already too far gone, there has never been a man more fortunate than he is. She is his—that look that’s perfectly un-sad, this is it.
Bridgerton Season 2
The changes from The Viscount Who Loved Me and Bridgerton Season 2 will hopefully allow us to see more in Season 3, but because Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley are such striking scene partners, every moment between the two is still utterly captivating. Bailey and Ashley are transcendent in showcasing the profound understanding between the two, the innate, unyielding longing, and every ounce of their adoration in the brief scene we get at the end.
But with the plot points essentially driving the characters, we get a completely new form of marriage and the aftermath of the accident, which is both a lovely change and a disheartening one. As the audience, we should have seen their wedding, and though we see their first night together as they give into the depth of their emotions for one another, we don’t get to see the messy parts of their healing. It would’ve been an extraordinary gift to see Bailey and Ashley dig deep into those terrors underneath they tirelessly push aside.
We aren’t given a chance to see a formal engagement though we see the flash of possibilities at that moment as Anthony slowly grazes the ring on Kate’s finger with his hand, imagining what it would be like if it truly belonged to her.
It all belongs to her, and it rightfully happens in the end, but Kate Sharma and Anthony Bridgerton’s relationship is in the small moments where they distinguish that nothing and no one has ever had them in such a liberating bind before.
No matter how their story pans out—it leads to one place in the end. The new beginning as they formally enter society as Lord and Lady Bridgerton. Whether declarations come after an accident following marriage or an accident before, they are always meant to be husband and wife—the compasses in each other’s lives. The only true north that matters, for better or worse. Spinning their worlds off one axis towards another, pointing to all the ways that could prevail them towards healing.
If Bridgerton Season 2 gets one thing beautifully right, it’s how well it handles the moment where Kate is stung by a bee
It’s easier to take a quiet moment with just the two of them than one that gets interrupted because the healing strength at this moment is much richer. It’s proof of Anthony’s darkness in a way no other person has witnessed, and no one even does, making it that much more personal for Kate alone.
While Kate doesn’t (yet) know the exact details that lead Anthony to a complete and utter state of panic, she sees the flashes of pain in his eyes. She feels the quivers in his body, allowing the empath in her to guide them forward, as she permits herself the chance to show him not only that she’s okay but that he is. This moment shows us that she is looking into his soul, searching for a way to be his compass, to guide him past the waves and steady his breathing.
Despite the change, in every sense where it matters, life’s master plan has a way of forcing us to surrender to its desires. A bee takes Anthony’s father away from him, but it gives him Kate in return. It releases him from the constant waves that drown out his heartbeats. And perhaps, in the challenges the two face, together or apart, surrendering to one another is the paramount kind of conquest. It’s the choice to look towards the parts of themselves they want to heal while they take on the position of another’s armor. In removing their own, they shield each other.
As Edmund Bridgerton avows, “you cannot show someone your best, without showing them your worst,” and that ultimately pays homage to the enemies-to-lovers trope as it solidifies how two people challenging one another results in the best outcome. In allowing their worst to come forward, like mirror reflections of one another, their souls were forced to confront the dark corridors of their most resounding heartaches. In breathing together, they ride the waves of anxiety as one, coming up to a shore that’s less harrowing, less lonely, less suffocating—duties shared and traumas uncovered, through every move they make, whether through a dance or staggering intimacy, their love subdues the waters and lulls the storms.
This song by Lord Huron is called “Louisa,” but for obvious reasons, we’re using Kathani because there’s always so much more to a name, so much to the change in the name, and Anthony using it out loud. We don’t know how or when Anthony learns her full name, but it’s still beautiful because Jonathan Bailey packs every ounce of his adoration into the significance of seeing all of her. Much of this still is left to our imagination, but the actors show us that the humbling journey they are about to depart on it is between true equals.
In the historical romance genre especially, using a person’s full name is the ultimate showcase of moving forward to new levels. Everything changes when it’s no longer Miss Sharma or, in this case, even Kate. Because as the article above beautifully breaks down, he is the only person who uses it on screen and, in doing so, promises that from this moment onward, he will look into the parts of her she conceals from the rest of the world. It’s a promise that substantiates that what they’ve shared is incomparable to anything else.
The idea of living, truly living each day as if it were his last, wasn’t a concept Anthony Bridgerton understood until he met Kate and wanted every bit of happiness and love with her. (It’s why I wanted to use “Louisa” in this deep dive because this song has constantly reminded me so closely of them, both in the book and now in the show.)
Kathani “Kate” Sharma brought back all the parts of Anthony Bridgerton that died with his father, and underneath shimmering fireworks in the night sky, wrapped in a field of flowers, he professed he’d cherish all of her. He knows she’s more than a diamond, more resilient than any storm, a flower unlike any other, and his greatest strength through everything; thus, using her full name conveys the entirety of his profound adoration as intimately as he could.
How Long Will I Love You
Kate Sharma and Anthony Bridgerton’s love story isn’t tragic—it’s brave and beautiful. It’s everlasting. While there will never come a day where Anthony mostly doesn’t vex Kate, she’ll give him the world, his every heart’s desire, and a shoulder to lean on the days where duties become too tiring.
It isn’t a mere head-canon that Anthony Bridgerton doesn’t sleep—it’s a quiet fact we don’t discuss nearly enough. We have confirmation of it as we watch him stay awake while others sleep throughout Season 1, but we also see a brilliant montage of it in “Capital R Rake” that demonstrates he’s always biting off more than he can chew. And while this isn’t something that people often notice, we can be sure of the fact that Kate will be aware of it. She’ll force him to teach her how to balance accounts if necessary, but she’ll lie back and watch as his eyes close shut—his body at ease, his mind no longer fighting an inexhaustible battle.
Though Kate Sharma isn’t as afraid of storms in the series as she is in the books, insecurities still take over at times. It can all be too much. Where she now has the safe space to share her grief with someone, Anthony will be by her side when perhaps a specific detail reminds her of her parents, transporting her back into the headspace of the little girl who experienced losses bigger than she could grasp. If she is indeed afraid of storms, he’ll buy a barometer; he’ll find a way to ensure the sounds are less protruding, the lighting strikes less harsh. Kate conquers her fear in the book, but sometimes when something is unsettling, it could crack through the progress we’ve made, jolting us even for a moment. And in those moments, he’ll hold her closer and tighter, showing with words and bold measures that he’s bearing it all with her.
In order for Kate and Anthony to be stronger as a couple, to grow together—they needed to get past their belief that love must be earned. While Kate never believed that her family despised her as Anthony did with his, she needed to get past the detail that she had to be worthy of the love that’s freely given to her by both Mary and Edwina. She needed to be free from the chains of grief that forced her to hold on too tightly, manifesting her sadness into doubts and insecurities.
And for Anthony, he needed not only to admit that he’s shown up for things far too late, but he needed to make his pain transparent to his family, allowing Violet primarily to finally affirm her part as well in the family’s trauma. Much of the trauma resides in the detail that they don’t talk about Edmund nearly enough. In uncovering these parts of themselves, they understand that they are loved as they are and despite their mistakes. To be a better brother, husband, and later a father, he needed to anchor onto the love surrounding him.
She could lead the way to any labyrinth, and he’d follow without hesitation. When he states that he’ll humble himself before her, it’s a promise forged by explosions so pronounced within him the fireworks in the sky pale in comparison. As two people with eons of love to give, the depth is boundless. It’s the very same love that they’ll extend to their families, their children, and the lives they’ll choose to lead together, making tomorrow better than today, finding laughter and tranquility in such a way where it’ll never be enough.
Whether robbed of words in an overwhelming state of pure devotion or bickering about something while wrinkled and grey, Kate Sharma and Anthony Bridgerton will perpetually find ways to unveil the magnitude of their adoration for one another. The banes of each other’s existence and the object of all their desires—they’ll always want more of the ardency they can give and receive, proving to each other and all those around them that theirs is a love match that will endure.
We’ll expand on this deep dive more when Kate and Anthony return in Bridgerton Season 3.