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…
As usual, I loved When He Was Wicked. I mean, who doesn’t love a deliciously written wicked hero?
Michael Stirling has secretly been in love with Francesca Bridgerton Stirling, his cousin Jogn’s wife for years. He painfully sits in the background pining away for her while not being able to do anything about it. She is totally unaware of his affections for her as she just sees him a a family member – a good loyal friend to her whom she can always talk to and depend on. Francesca is happily in love with John, but it doesn’t last. One night he had a horrible headache, he went to lay down for a rest and ne never woke up, dieing of a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. With this devastating news, Michael tries to be there for Francesca, but he doesn’t handle the emoticons of his feelings for her, the lost of his cousin whom seemed more like a brother to him, and the title of Earl of Kilmartin passing to him (he never wanted it nor its duties). So he decides to leave and go to India, leaving Francesca in charge of handling the Kilmartin estate.
Four years later, Francesca decides its time to come out of morning as she wants to live again and most of all, she wants a child very badly. If she marries again, it shan’t be for love as she doesn’t expect to find what she had with John again. So she packs her bags and heads to London in hopes of finding herself a husband. As she arrives in London at the Kilmartin House, whom does she discover has returned as well? Michael. It’s been four long years and she can’t believe he’s back, he tells her it’s time for him to come home. Though Michael hasn’t seen her in years, he hoped being away would deter his feelings for her, but it has not, as they are still there, strong as ever, which he tries his best to hide as he feels he has no right to be lusting after her. Francesca had no idea that his hidden feelings for her was what played the major part in his decision on leaving. Seeing it not proper for her to stay alone with him at Kilmartin House, she decides to stay with her mother.
Michael wonders why she is here, in London as she didn’t hardly ever leave the Scottish estate. She stuns him by revealing her reason, that she wants a baby, so therefore she is searching and in need of a husband. As they have this discussion, she starts to see him differently, for the first time she doesn’t see him as a friend of the family, she sees him as a man, a very attractive one, which scares the devil out of her. With this news of her seeking a husband, internally Michael doesn’t handle it well as he doesn’t want to see her courted by other suitors while is heart beats madly for her, but what was he to do?
One night, Michael doesn’t show up for dinner at Violet’s house, which he promised to attend, Francesca decides to pay him a visit to see if all is well. She finds him in bed, all cover up, shivering from chills an a high fever. Since loosing her husband John, she worries about Michael and stays to nurse him back to health. he tells her not to worry, he knows what it is, that it has plagued him before, that it is malaria, a disease he contacted while in India. After spending time tending to Michael’s illness, rumors start swirling that they have formed an attachment and Francesca doesn’t this this light and gets a bit testing about it. She isn’t too fond of the gossip due to that he is known to be a very charming rake with the ladies and she doesn’t believe he’d make a good husband nor remain faithful.
After entering back into social society for the London season, Francesca is deemed ‘the catch of the season’ and receives numerous vases filled with flowers and cards from interested suitors. Michael walks in, thinking his house has turned into a flower shop, demands whats going on and that she can’t even possibly be serious enough to consider some of these suitors as potential husband material. He even goes as far as telling her she wasn’t going to marry or even consider some of them – all due to his dander being up and pure jealousy.
Since not receiving the news of Francesca’s admirers well, Michael goes to the local gentleman’s club to drink his troubles away. That is when Colin – Francesca’s brother – stumbles upon Michael and lets just say, Colin is very perceptive and can see straight through him to see the real problem that is eating away at Michael. Colin knows he pines for his sister, has so for years. He confronts Michael, asking him why don’t he act on his feelings for Francesca, why not marry her since she is free? Michael makes up excuses on why he shouldn’t marry her, that it wouldn’t be right, that she was John’s. But deep down, he does want to marry her – very badly – he just lets his conscience get the best of him. Deciding to leave, Colin tells him to think on what he says, and think and ponder he does.
One night a week later, Michael catches her in an almost compromising position with a male suitor trying to force his kiss on her, this makes him livid. Although she is grateful for his rescue, she somehow can’t help but to think he is angry with her. She leaves the party, no longer wishing to be there and its up and waits for him to return, to ask him why he was angry with her. As he returns, she confronts him and things take a very different heated turn. She suddenly realizes she wants Michael and then he finely kisses her. In moments, it goes beyond their control and she tells him she can’t, then she flees to Kilmartin estate in Scotland. With her fleeing suddenly, it blackens Michael’s mood so he decides to go out and have a jolly time with a woman except he didn’t want any woman, he wanted her – Francesca. Again, Colin shows up like a bad penny and asks Michael if he thought about what he’d do, if he’d open himself to her, tell her how he feels, and that he wishes to marry her. Colin also informs him that he and Penelope just got engaged and that he thinks Francesca should know, giving Michael a reason to go to Kllmartin to see her.
He arrives at Kilmartin days later, debating on how to ask her to marry him. The more he thought about it, the more the idea appeased him. He wanted this, for six long years. He knew he wouldn’t have her heart, never would, but he was fine with that, he would have her and that would be good enough for him. Michael finally finds her and tells her that they should marry, stating the positive reasons and benefits. She is shocked by his proposal, telling him she can’t, that it’d never work. Being madly in love with her, can’t accept her answer and decides to try to seduce her, which is is pretty good at as he isn’t known as the ‘Merry Rake’ for nothing. As he seduces her, he beings to tell her something wicked, about his exploits, about how he always dreamed of her and what he dreamed of doing to her. The next day, Francesca is irritated with herself, irritated that she would feel desire for another man other than John. Later that day, Michael seeks her out again, telling her she never answered his question. She tells him she will consider it, but can’t give him an answer now. Still not satisfied with her answer, he yet again seduces her with passion and then they begin something extremely wicked. As days pass, Francesca has still not given Michael an answer, so he persistently keeps asking her to marry him, but yet she still can’t give him an answer he seeks, she is torn between her feelings of what she had with John and what she now feels for Michael.
Since seducing her didn’t prompt the answer he hoped to hear from her, he decides a different tactic – he was going to court her, woo her in earnest. Weeks later she still didn’t know what to do, nor did she have an answer for him, yet he continues to ask her to marry him. He becomes agitated after trying so hard to persuade a ‘yes’ out of her that he starts to get testy with her. He ask her if she won’t marry him, why does she stay, which she doesn’t have any answer for him and he asks her to leave, that if she can’t be his, he doesn’t want her anymore. Later that evening after pondering all he said, she finally tells him she will marry him, which he tells her once that she accepts, that she can’t take it back, can’t get cold feet, or change her mind, that she will be his.
Francesca visits John’s grave, talking to him, confessing her feelings about Michael, tell him that she loves him, which Michael stumbles upon her there hearing her say it. He tells her he loves her and that she doesn’t have to say it back, but she does as she finally means it, which makes him extremely happy as he was in heaven. he goes on to tell her that he will love her for the rest of her life, that he will cherish her always.
In the first five books, you didn’t really hear much about Francesca or hardly a peep out of her, so it was refreshing to get to know her with hers and Michael’s story. I don’t know about everyone else, but I love it when the hero is secretly in love with the heroine and has been so for years but can’t act on it or doesn’t know how to go about it. Michael was a deliciously wicked, charming, devil may care man who hid his true feelings for Frannie with his rakish ways. I really loved reading about him and boy was he a naughty wicked thing when he was telling her something wicked. I am glad he finally gets his happy ending after loving her from afar for six long years.