Another blog post, another Bridgerton novel down. This time, I’ve met my favorite – again. When He Was Wicked is an absolutely delightful, emotional read with an intense slow burn and a TON of heat.
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The summary, from Amazon:
In every life there is a turning point . . .
A moment so tremendous, so sharp and breathtaking, that one knows one’s life will never be the same. For Michael Stirling, London’s most infamous rake, that moment came the first time he laid eyes on Francesca Bridgerton.
After a lifetime of chasing women, of smiling slyly as they chased him, of allowing himself to be caught but never permitting his heart to become engaged, he took one look at Francesca Bridgerton and fell so fast and hard into love it was a wonder he managed to remain standing. Unfortunately for Michael, however, Francesca’s surname was to remain Bridgerton for only a mere thirty-six hours longer—the occasion of their meeting was, lamentably, a supper celebrating her imminent wedding to his cousin.
But that was then . . . Now Michael is the earl and Francesca is free, but still she thinks of him as nothing other than her dear friend and confidant. Michael dares not speak to her of his love . . . until one dangerous night, when she steps innocently into his arms and passion proves stronger than even the most wicked of secrets . . .
Buy When He Was Wicked here!
Where do I begin with this one? Francesca was not a Bridgerton sibling that I particularly cared about leading up to this book. We see very little of her in the previous novels. But when we’re introduced to her, boy is she interesting. Francesca is not as cocky and loud as her other siblings, but instead has a lovely, quiet confidence. And then there’s Michael, her love interest, who is also spectacular. We first meet Michael as Francesca’s almost-brother-in-law. Francesca was married young to Michael’s cousin John, and they were genuinely in love. Francesca was close friends with Michael, and loved hearing about his scandalous escapades as a known rake. Michael, meanwhile, harbored deep romantic feelings for Francesca that he refused to act upon. John was his best friend, and he saw how in love the two were.
But then John passes away. Michael leaves for India for a few years, but when he returns home, his feelings for Francesca haven’t changed. Francesca, meanwhile, still mourns her husband, but is in her late twenties and finds herself ready to have children. She knows she has to get married to do that, but never expects to fall in love again or even feel a hint of the passion she felt for John. She finds herself falling for Michael, and though she loved John equally, the sexual passion she feels for him is intense. Francesca and Michael have a slow burn romance for the first half of the book before they finally consummate their relationship, but even then it takes some time for Francesca to come to terms with the fact that it’s not disloyal to John to love someone else. There are no misunderstandings between these two best friends. The only thing keeping them apart is their great love and respect for John.
This book deals with a lot of interesting and difficult medical topics. The most obvious is Francesca’s infertility. She lost a baby after John passed, and it took her a few years to conceive with him. She is very worried that she’ll never have a child. In the second epilogue, we do see that she is blessed with children eventually. It’s nice that she got her happily ever after, but I know that doesn’t happen for all couples and it would have been nice to represent that in this series. Throughout all of my second epilogue reading, all of the Bridgerton siblings reproduce. I know family planning was much more difficult in the 1800s, but realistically I don’t think eight siblings and eight spouses would all want at least two children.
The other medical issues touched on include malaria and an aneurysm. Both were exceptionally well-researched, and the author covers that in her note at the end.
I also want to note that this was by far the most sex-positive of the books. Francesca is a young widow who very much loved her first husband. She likes sex and knows what she wants. Our hero isn’t the only one in control.
While I’ll always have my personal qualms with this series, the romances are all lovely and the characters are all memorable. This one is my favorite so far and a true 5 star read.
Find out more about how I rate books here.
When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I highly doubt the last two books in the series will top this one – it’s by far my favorite so far! Francesca and Michael are both lovely characters with nothing but their respect and love for Michael’s cousin, Francesca’s late husband, keeping them apart. The two have to work through that before they finally get their HEA. This book also deals with chronic illness and infertility in a heartfelt way.
What I love most about this pair is that they both know what they want sexually. The first three books (especially Book 1) in this series have some super awful scenes regarding consent or lack thereof, but books 4-6 are full of consent, ESPECIALLY this one. Michael initiates the seduction but consistently asks for permission. This one had quite a few love scenes, and if you count the second epilogue, we get to see TWO scenes where Francesca takes total control (one in the novel itself) – which I don’t see a lot in popular historical romance, so 😍😍😍.
Update: Bridgerton vs. the books
There have been no differences in the series so far as compared to this book. I think it would be entirely possible to have the same storyline for Francesca, though we may have to see more of her in the series in order to really have an emotional connection with her once we get to her season. Francesca has been recast as her original actress has many projects going on, so I hope we see more of her in the show than we did in the books.
Book Club Questions
- How do family dynamics affect Francesca and Michael’s relationship?
- Was it possible Francesca had romantic or sexual feelings for Michael while married to John? Is this disloyal?
- How does loyalty affect Francesca and Michael’s relationship?
- For fans of the show, do you see Francesca’s story playing out the same way?
- Is Francesca’s romance different than her siblings’ in any notable way? How so or how not?
Interested? Buy When He Was Wicked.
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