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When he Was Wicked is the sixth book in the Bridgerton series. The series is set in the 1800s and centres around the Bridgerton family. The Bridgertons are a large, aristocratic family who are named in alphabetical order, the oldest being Anthony, followed by Benedict, followed by Daphne etc. In my opinion this series can be read out of order or as standalone novels and still be enjoyable. I started with the first book and have been reading them in order and I'm glad that I did because each book does set up the next one but at the same time not having that background knowledge would not stop you from being able to follow the story or enjoy it.
The Bridgerton family consist of Violet, the matriarch of the family and widow of a viscount. Anthony is her oldest son and inherited his fathers title. Then there's Benedict, an artist. Followed by Colin, a writer. Daphne, wife of the Duke of Hastings. Eloise, wife of Sir Philip Crane. Then we have Francesca whose story is told in this book and her younger siblings Gregory and Hyacinth who we will learn more about in the books that follow this one.
Up to now I have really enjoyed this series and found it to be a witty, romantic but sometimes historically inaccurate series with lots of interesting characters and dramatic, if slightly unbelievable, events. Basically it's everything you would expect from a historical romance series (and yes, unfortunately historical inaccuracy is something one comes to expect from historical romances).
Francesca, who is the focal character of this book, has remained somewhat of a mystery up until now. Usually the Bridgerton sibling is next in line for a book will feature in the previous one but Francesca hasn't appeared much in the previous books. We do find out that she has married, become a countess and then been widowed. We know that she spends a lot of her time in Scotland where her deceased husband's ancestral home is. I really wasn't very interested in reading Francesca's book. Francesca has been portrayed as someone who isn't as much a part of the family as the other Bridgertons, out of choice. Part of the appeal of this series for me is that the Bridgertons are this really close family and being very much a family person myself I didn't particularly want to read a book about someone who has a great family that she chooses not to be a part of. I also don't particularly like reading romance novels about widows. I think that every type of person deserves their happily ever after, I have nothing against widows falling in love and remarrying (or not) but I find that in romance novels where the widow actually loved her deceased partner there's always an element of sorrow and it upsets me. However, I started this series and I have enjoyed it up until now so really there was no question about me reading this book.
This book actually starts when Francesca is still married to John, her first husband. John's cousin Michael is secretly in love with Francesca but knows that nothing can ever happen between them. John is like a brother to him and he would never betray his cousin in that way. And even if he would, Francesca is totally in love and devoted to her husband. When John dies suddenly Michael is unable to give Francesca the support she needs and he moves to India for four years. Francesca has lost her husband and her best friend (Michael) but she manages to get through it and four years later she's content. However, Francesca wants a baby and this being the 1800s the only way to respectably have a baby is to marry first. Around this time Michael moves back to London and back to Francesca but can he ever admit his feelings for her? Or will he have to once again watch the woman he loves marry someone else?
As I have said I wasn't really interested in reading this book and my expectations were very low. They sunk even lower when it became apparent that Francesca's reason for wanting to remarry was to have a baby. I don't want children, I don't find the whole marriage and children thing very romantic but unfortunately (for me) that's the kind of happily ever after you get in these kinds of romance novels. Usually this isn't so bad, it's just something that happens at the end of the book and I can ignore it but occasionally, like in this book, having children is part of the plot. The other worry I had was that the romance would be really rushed and dismissive of Francesca's feelings for John.
However, this wasn't that case at all. I think a real strength of this book was that the romance was very slow. Quinn took time to explore each characters feelings towards each other but also towards John and at no point did she dismiss what they both felt for him. I think it was a really good thing that she had a big gap between him dying and Michael and Francesca getting together because it gave both time to grieve and come to terms with everything. Usually I don't like the romance to be slow, I like to jump right in there but in this case I think it was a necessity and wouldn't have worked if it had been rushed at all. When things do start to heat up between them they get really hot. In general I don't think Julia Quinn writes very erotic sex scenes but these were much more erotic than her usual ones, although still very tame in comparison with other writers in this genre. I do think that she overdid it a bit with the sex scenes. Nothing sexual happens for a lot of this book and then she tries to cram as much sex as possible into a short space and I just ended up getting bored. At first Francesca's motivations for getting into a relationship are based purely on the fact that she wants a baby and as I said I don't find this very romantic but although this is a driving force in their relationship it's not the defining feature of it so I would still have preferred that this wasn't part of the book but it isn't so bad that it ruined it for me (and of course if you like this kind of thing then it may be a positive thing for you).
I found this book less humorous than the others in this series which was disappointing because I've always thought of this series as being quite light hearted and amusing. I guess there's only so light hearted you can be when dealing with death and perhaps humour wouldn't have been very appropriate in this novel.
Although I had my doubts about Francesca before reading this book I did actually find myself liking her and even relating to her and the way that she feels about her family. She's nowhere near as isolated from them as she appears to be in previous books and I did find myself understanding why she feels the need to spend so much time away from her family. Michael is a likeable but unremarkable hero. He's known as the "merry rake" which is somewhat memorable but other than that I can't see myself being able to distinguish Michael from other heroes in this series. He's just very average (for a romantic hero that is...if only that was average for the general population).
This isn't the strongest book in the series and it does leave some questions unanswered. If you want to find out a certain something you have to buy the second prologue which I think is a real cheek. It feels like she left the story a bit unfinished and then decided to cash in on it by charging people extra to find out what happens. However, although not the strongest book in the series it is still enjoyable and worth reading, particularly if you're following the series.
I've rated this as three stars because although it was good it's not up to the usual standard and it does feel like the story is unfinished. If the ending had been more complete I probably would have rated it as four stars.
The Duke and I (Daphne's book)
The Viscount who Loved me (Anthony's book)
An Offer From a Gentleman (Benedict's book)
Romancing Mr Bridgerton (Colin's book)
To Sir Phillip with Love (Eloise's book)
When he Was Wicked (Francesca's book)
It's in His Kiss (Hyacinth's book)
On the Way to the Wedding (Gregory's book)
When he was wicked is the 6th book in the Bridgerton series, written by Julia Quinn.
As soon as Michael Stirling set eyes on Francesca Bridgerton, he fell hard in love. The only problem was that she was about to get married to his cousin John. Since the marriage, Michael has been good friends with Francesca but not being able to act on how he feels in taking its toll. Even though Michael is totally in love with Francesca, he is still known as a notorious rake and she takes pleasure in hearing stories of his wicked ways. One unexpected evening, John retires early with a headache while Michael and Francesca go for a walk but when they return, something shocking has happened. John suddenly died while the pair were out and Francesca has no idea how to deal with what happened, especially considering that she has also just found out that she's pregnant. Michael, also in turmoil, cant handle being around Francesca and flees the country to India.
Michael and Francesca are both having hard times corresponding with each other while they are apart and they still have unresolved issues after John's death. After four years away, Michael returns to England and Francesca immediately wants to know why he has been so distant. There is still tension between the pair but when Michael falls in with malaria, Francesca knows she has to stand by his side and help him take his rightful place in society.
Francesca really wants a baby but is still not over the death of her husband. She comes out of mourning and starts to look for a husband but at the same time, she pushes Michael to look for a wife. Jealousy is extremely clear between the two and they find themselves being pushed closer and closer together but can Francesca handle the feelings that she isn't supposed to have for Michael?
This is my favourite book out of the Bridgerton series. I read these in the order that they were released although you don't need to read them in order. Each book doesn't move on from the last one, instead it tells the story of one of each of the Bridgerton children.
Unlike most of the other books in this series, When he was wicked doesn't have the obvious disaster/ scandal etc but instead focuses on the mixed feelings of each of the main characters for conflict. Although something really bad happens very early on in the book, there wasn't the near death experience or anything like that which I would normally expect from this genre.
I really felt for Michael at the beginning of the book and more so as the story developed. It had to have been extremely hard for him to be best friends with Francesca once she married his cousin without ever being able to tell her how he felt. I can only imagine how much like hell that must have felt like for him but you could see how genuinely sorry and sad he was when John died. Not knowing how to handle anything, he was a coward and ran away but I could understand his reasons for doing so. Quite a way into the story he gives Francesca an ultimatum which was long overdue I think. He shouldn't have had to feel like he was living in purgatory with her, not knowing which way her feelings were going. He wanted all or nothing and he deserved nothing less.
At the same time though, I could totally understand how Francesca was feeling. It is never easy when someone you love dies and you feel like there is no one there to help you. She didn't really understand anything about Michael's feelings after John died because she didn't know anything about his feelings for her. The friendship between the two was very strong to begin with and it was quite sad to read about when it broke down because of what happened.
As you can expect from the title, When he was wicked is a little bit raunchier than the other books in this genre. Yes there are sex scenes in the rest of them but nothing like what you get in this story. Michael is a very well known rake and he has had a lot of fun with women which Francesca loves to hear about. Michael never tells her all of the details of course but that is part of what intrigues her so much. Knowing this, you can only imagine how much fun the pair have together once Francesca gets the opportunity to live this experience for herself.
I really enjoyed reading this book and the reason that it is my favourite is because it completely stands out from the rest in the series. I like reading these in order as it gives a nice build up for when you get to When he was wicked. If you like the genre, definitely give this one a try.
Books in the Bridgerton Series:
1. The Duke and I
2. The Viscount who loved me
3. An offer from a gentleman
4. Romancing Mr Bridgerton
5. To Sir Phillip, with love
6. When he was wicked
7. It's in his kiss
8. On the way to the wedding