With Bridgerton's renewal for seasons three and four, it's official that we'll be getting a season based on An Offer from a Gentleman, the third book in Julia Quinn's series of novels and the story of Benedict, the second brother, finding his true love. Of course, it's very likely that the TV version of the season will be a little different from the books, with more subplots for supporting characters and more depth to Benedict, since the show doesn't focus quite as exclusively on two characters at a time. Still, if you're curious to find out what to expect in season three, read on for some major spoilers from An Offer from a Gentleman!
Meet Sophie Beckett, The Ton's Cinderella
The heroine of this book is another new character, Sophie Beckett, who is the illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Penwood. She's fully aware of her parentage, and the Earl takes her in as his "ward." Unfortunately for Sophie, the Earl marries Araminta, a "wicked stepmother" if ever there was one, who has two awful daughters too. When the Earl dies, his will includes a loophole: Araminta will receive a much larger allowance if she allows Sophie to stay until she turns 20.
We all know how this story goes. Sophie gets to stay, but as a full-fledged Cinderella, forced to become a servant to her stepmother and stepsisters. One night, though, she manages to sneak into Lady Bridgerton's famous masquerade ball. There, with her identity hidden, she meets Benedict Bridgerton, and they're instantly smitten with each other. Of course, things aren't as simple as that.
Two Years Later
It's been two years since the ball, and Benedict has sworn he will only marry when he finds his mystery woman from the ball again. Meanwhile, Sophie has been kicked out by her stepmother, who figured out that she attended the ball and gained a Bridgerton's attention. Sophie is forced to work as a maid, and she meets Benedict again when he rescues her from the unwanted advances of her employer's son. He helps get her a different job — working for his mother — and feels a connection with her instantly, but he doesn't realise that she's the woman from the ball.
As the story progresses, Benedict and Sophie find themselves drawn together more and more, as the rest of the Bridgertons grow very fond of Sophie as well. Benedict is absolutely attracted to her, but he can't let go of his vow to only marry the masked woman from the ball. Between wanting to keep that vow and the fact that she's a servant at the time (and thus not a suitable match), Benedict decides to ask Sophie to be his mistress instead. It goes about as well as you'd expect. Being illegitimate herself, Sophie absolutely has no interest in having children who will bear the same stigma, even though her feelings for Benedict are growing even stronger.
How Does An Offer from a Gentleman End?
Disinterested in any of the "suitable" women suggested to him as a bride, Benedict finally admits to himself that, if he could, he'd probably marry Sophie. When he hints at his dilemma to his mother (without directly mentioning Sophie), Violet promises him that she would never be angry at him if he chose to marry someone of a different social class. Still thinking about this conversation, he runs into the rest of his family playing a hide-and-seek game with Sophie. When he sees her blindfolded, he finally realises that she's the masked woman from the ball, and she confesses her identity and her backstory.
Benedict is angry and Sophie decides to resign and leave the household. As she leaves, though, Sophie's stepmother accosts her, accuses her of being a thief, and has her hauled off to jail. When the Bridgertons find out via a report by Lady Whistledown, they head off to rescue her from jail, where Araminta is there taunting her. Between the Bridgertons' arrival and a surprising moment of support from one of her stepsisters, Posy, Sophie is proven innocent — and Posy even reveals that the earl had left a dowry for Sophie that Araminta has kept for herself instead.
Violet calmly threatens Araminta with ruination unless she agrees not to stand in the way of Sophie and Benedict. She also invites Posy to stay with them as long as she'd like, in order to keep her from Araminta's wrath. Sophie returns home with Benedict, where he has a bath drawn for her and they get a head start on their upcoming wedding night. They get married, and, in the epilogue seven years later, we learn that Sophie is pregnant with their fourth child. And, in the very last moments, Lady Whistledown — still unidentified — thinks to herself that she's tired of being Whistledown and vows to be herself from then on.