First Lines: In every life there is a turning point. A moment so tremendous, so sharp and clear that one feels as if one’s been hit in the chest, all the breath knocked out, and one knows, absolutely knows without the merest hint of a shadow of a doubt that one’s life will never be the same. For Michael Stirling, that moment came the first time he laid eyes on Francesca Bridgerton.
As many of you who have been following me know, I have really enjoyed the Bridgerton series. But this book was the one I was probably least looking forward to for the simple reason that I didn’t really know anything about Francesca. She’s just not really in any of the other books, so I didn’t know what to expect.
Michael Stirling, a rake with a long line of heartbroken women in his wake, loves the chase as women flock to him. But never once has he actually fallen for anyone. That changes when he meets Francesca Bridgerton. He falls so hard and so fast at first sight that he knows this is the woman for him. Unfortunately, he’s meeting Francesca as they celebrate her upcoming wedding in thirty-six hours–to his cousin. But now, Michael is the earl and Francesca is free, though she still views Michael as nothing more than her friend and confidante. Michael doesn’t want to express his love for her and ruin things between them…until one night when she innocently steps into his arms and passion takes over between them…
I rather liked this one, which was a little surprising given how little we’ve seen of Francesca so far in the series.
Francesca married at 20, only to become a widow two years later. Broken, she tries to rely on her husband’s cousin-and-best-friend Michael, who also happens to be the new Earl of Kilmartin. However, Michael has been in love with Francesca for years, since the moment he first laid eyes on her. And being around her while grieving for his cousin is too much. He travels to India for a few years, thinking perhaps that when he returns, he’ll be over Francesca. He’s not.
I thought the darkness in this story due to their joint grief and the conflicted feelings they have toward each other really brought something special to this book. It gave it depth and it made them feel more like real people. I liked seeing them struggle and find each other. It meant more because of the struggle.
I also really liked both of them as characters. Francesca has always felt somewhat separate from her family, which she both likes and hates. But she loves them and they support her, of course. She’s strong and independent and she’s got a good sense of humor. Michael is a charmer, able to flirt with anything that moves. But he’s utterly devoted to Francesca and he’s a bit of a hero. They’re good together.
It was a tad confusing at first, but this story takes place at literally the same time as the previous two books. Once I figured that out, I was good, but it did throw me at first.
While this wasn’t my favorite book in this series, it’s probably top 3.