The sixth book in the Bridgerton series was probably the one I was least looking forward to. There is next to any info about Francesca’s character in all the other books. To be honest, I practically forgot about her on a regular basis. I was constantly reminding myself that ‘oh ya there is another Bridgerton sibling before Gregory and Hyacinth’.
The minimal references to Francesca’s story left me with a lot more questions than answers. For example, there were references about her being a widow really young and that the love of her life died etc. Which made me constantly think ‘wow that sounds depressing’. So when I finally got to Francesca’s story I was fully expecting it to be the book that I had to ‘get through’ before moving on to the rest of the charming Bridgerton siblings.
However, Julia Quinn is a stunning writer and I fully trust her ability to write believable romances that will win me over in spite of myself even if I don’t LOVE the story, I know that I will at least enjoy it. When I started this one, it was very clear this was going to be different than some of the other ones in the series, but by the end it emerged as my favorite in the entire series.
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 . (summary from Goodreads)
I was not expecting this book to be so complex and brooding, but I adored it. While most of the series is flippant and happy (and when I say flippant I do not mean that in a negative way), this book was darker and more emotional than any of the others. In this book, the troupe is forbidden love, not adultery, but forbidden love all the same. Michael is in love with his cousin’s wife though he does not act on it but then the cousin dies and Michael realizes that he might actually have a chance with Francesca. While this troupe might not be for everyone, it worked for me. I don’t necessarily care for adultery in books, but forbidden or unrequited love that is hidden and not acted on by the hero always wins me over. This book was angsty and brooding and I found Michael Stirling sexy, sympathetic, and romantic. I simply adored him.
The series thus far has been mostly about younger, inexperienced heroines and who meet more worldly and experienced men. With Francesca and Michael their story and romance feels more mature and fraught with complexities not seen in the other books. This book is one that I think an older or perhaps a more experienced woman would appreciate a little more than say a younger reader even though Michael and Francesca are still relatively young, their life experiences felt more mature and nuanced than the others in the series.
For me, Michael was the stronger character in this story. Sure this was Francesca’s story, but she felt a little one the flat side to me. I think that’s because we don’t get a chance to really experience her in the other books. All we see is a young widow struggling to move on with her life. She is the most removed from her family so we don’t see the Bridgerton family members often in this one. I felt like I knew her the least so when I started this one I had hoped to learn more about her but she read flat for me. While that might have made me take my rating down a peg, it was Michael that made it a firm five star book and made it my favorite book in the series.
His honor, strength, loyalty, and love that he felt for his cousin and in the end Francesca was commendable and proved that he was worthy of the reader’s attention and devotion. The way he worshipped Francesca but refused to act on it was so believable and it really amped up the chemistry throughout the story. I absolutely loved him and I loved watching their story unfold. This was a book that I unexpectedly fell in love with. Just when I thought that I could love no other hero in the series as much as I loved Anthony, Michael Stirling comes long and steals my heart and the series.
Book Info and Rating
Kindle Edition, Reissue Edition
426 pagesPublished February 28th 2017 by Avon (first published June 29th 2004)
Review copy provided by personal collection. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: historical romance, romance
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