Contains spoilers for episodes 1-4 of Bridgerton season three.

The first half of Bridgerton season three has arrived on Netflix, and over four tense episodes, young Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) has finally realised that he is in love with his best friend, Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan). The fourth episode ended with the pair having a steamy encounter in her carriage, followed by Colin asking Penelope to marry him.

That’s all very lovely – although we have to wait until June 13 when episode five is streamed to hear her answer – but there is one very big dark cloud that could cast gloom over their potential nuptials: Colin has no idea that Penelope is the writer of the Lady Whistledown gossip pages that send the ton into a frenzy whenever they are published.

Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan
Bridgerton's Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan

Already in this season Colin has expressed his disgust at Lady Whistledown’s gossiping, especially as the Bridgerton family has been subject to her fiery opinions on more than one occasion. In the first episode, Colin catches his sister Eloise reading the gossip paper and tells her that “after nearly ruining you last season, I will never forgive her.” Of course, Eloise knows that Pen is Lady Whistledown, so she asks Colin if he has any idea who the writer could be. He has no clue, but declares: “Trust me, if I ever find out, I shall make sure it is her life that is ruined.”

That doesn’t exactly bode well for the two lovebirds, but if the Julia Quinn novels on which the series is based are anything to go by, the couple could still get their happy ending – even if Colin does discover Penelope’s secret identity.

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope
Colin has no idea that Penelope is Lady Whistledown

So far, the Netflix series has kept reasonably close to the events in the novels, although the third season is based on the fourth book about Colin rather than the third (which is older brother Benedict’s story). In Colin’s story – Romancing Mr Bridgerton – there are scenes that fans of this season of TV series will recognise, including Pen reading Colin’s travel journal and him cutting his hand and her attending to it.

But there is also a twist we haven’t seen yet in which Eloise’s friend Cressida states that she is actually Lady Whistledown, in the hope of winning £1000 that Lady Danbury has offered to unmask the anonymous writer.

Bridgerton season three stars Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan
Penelope and Colin are falling in love in Bridgerton

If the series follows the events of the book, Colin will discover that Penelope is Lady Whistledown, and quite soon, too. He makes the discovery when he follows Penelope one day and sees her place an envelope in a pew at St Bride’s Church in the east end of London, and then confronts her about it. She confesses that she is Lady Whistledown and the envelope contains her final gossip column as she has decided to retire. While he is furious and the pair argue, they end up kissing in Penelope’s carriage - the scene we have already seen in the show, but without the Whistledown revelation.

Later in the novel, the pair do become engaged (and things get even steamier between them), and when Cressida discovers that Pen is Whistledown and tries to blackmail her, Colin steps in and takes the drastic step of revealing that Penelope is Lady Whistledown at their engagement ball in front of the whole ton, and he also tells everyone how proud he is of her.

The book ends with Colin and Penelope married – at last – so hopefully we’ll get to see their Bridgerton wedding on screen soon, too.