It's been a while, but it's time for another Bridgerton book review, this time of the story of second youngest daughter Francesca.
She is a little-mentioned character in earlier books, most often referred to as living in Scotland. She is immediately sold as a different creature to the rest of her family - a more introverted, quiet being than her more outgoing siblings. I can appreciate what the author was trying to do in avoiding making all of the Bridgertons formulaic, but I would be lying if I said the change didn't lessen her appeal just a bit. I missed the overt wittiness that the other Bridgertons seemed to possess by the bucketload, and found Francesca to be slightly more annoying than the others (though I'm not sure I can put my finger on why).
Her station as a widow added a new dynamic to the series that gave the book a unique viewpoint. It gave a Bridgerton sibling something in common with their mother that was individual, and added a new depth to the mother/child relationship. In fact, the book, in general, was deeper and more mature than the rest of the series so far, touching on subjects like grief and loss in various formats and to varying degrees. For the most part, all of these topics felt well handled, but at times the guilt did feel like it was laid on a little thick.
Partially because of this, the relationship that developed throughout the story between Francesca and Michael felt somewhat disjointed at times. A large portion of the book was spent in resistance and hesitance, so much so that the inevitable about-turn felt oddly rushed. Despite this, I did enjoy the chemistry that was there, and watching the age-old friends-to-lovers trope play out.
New surroundings also afforded some new characters in the form of Francesca's extended family on her husband's side. They were fine characters but I did miss more time with the other Bridgertons and Lady Danbury, even with an amusing interlude with Colin Bridgerton to keep me going until the next book.
In spite of some of the comments I've made in this review, I still really enjoyed this book.It was an easy read with added depth, that added yet another layer to the Regency world that I have quickly come to love. The problem that Julia Quinn has got is that I'm enjoying Bridgerton so much as a series that I get pickier with each one I read - and with that in mind, tune back in soon to find out what I make of Gregory and Hyacinth's stories.
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 . . .
You can buy the book here now. It was published by Piatkus.