Sarescent's Reviews > When He Was Wicked

When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn
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's review
Sep 23, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2010-books, favorites

I haven't made it through all of the Bridgerton books yet (I have Hyacinth, Gregory, and Eloise to go), but I think it's safe to say that this is and will always be my favorite of the seven. In fact, this may be one of my favorite romances ever. Let me count the things I love.

1. The Keep Apart. Every romance has to have some reason our couple can't get together right away. In most books, these reasons are somewhat to very ridiculous. In this one, it makes perfect sense. Francesca was married to Michael's cousin, a cousin he considered to be as close as a brother. (Frankly I thought the book would have been even stronger if Quinn had made Michael and John brothers, but I guess that would be a wee bit squicky for some readers.) He had resigned himself to loving her from afar forever. His cousin's tragic death leaves Michael stricken with guilt, especially when he has to assume his cousin's title and responsibilities. After her beloved husband's death, Francesca has resigned herself to marrying only for children, and never truly loving again. When Michael finally works up the nerve to make his feelings known, it sends her into a complete emotional tailspin, which I found very believable, especially when you consider Michael has a life-threatening medical condition, which means Francesca would ALSO have to face her fears of being widowed again if she were to fall in love with him.

2. The Sex Scenes. All a romance novel needs to make me love it is one good sex scene and this book delivers TWO scorching hot, dirty-talking scenes, plus several shorter smuttier scenes and lots of sexual tension. WIN.

3. Michael. Oh, Michael. His complete devotion to Francesca is so beautifully described, yet it never turns creepy! (Take notes, Stephenie Meyer.) You believe that he loved his cousin and "Frannie" both so much that he was willing to give up true love to see them be happy, and you feel his pain when he loses his cousin-- both for his own loss and his misery at seeing Francesca's devastation. When he turns his attention to seducing Francesca to win her hand in marriage, he's utterly charming, devastating, and irresistible, all the more so because we've seen him through years (er, pages) of self-denial. We WANT so much for Michael to get his happy ending. And did I mention he was incredibly sexy and, well, wicked?

4. Francesca. I know a lot of reviewers have a problem with Francesca's indecision, but I found it completely believable. In the span of a few years, she's married, been widowed, miscarried, learned to manage her husband's estates, made the difficult decision to marry again so she can be a mother, and been seduced to and proposed to by her husband's cousin. Anyone who could jump right into that relationship has it a lot more together emotionally than I do, that's for sure. I loved Francesca, her strength and her humor and her desire for independence. The scene between her and her mother, Violet, where they talk about being widows, is one of my favorite Violet scenes in the series. I'd never read a book about a widow back on the Marriage Mart and I found the depictions of those courtship rituals interesting and a fresh angle for Quinn. Having Francesca be the one who was hesitant to marry was also a different take, and I loved watching Michael, um, wear her down. Hee.

I also found Francesca's infertility, which is alluded to here, very well-done. I know this is described in the epilogue, which I haven't read yet, since it's only published as an e-book, but I can't wait to find out how it's dealt with.

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