There is always a dark complexity to JQ novels that help endear and set them apart from every other book on the shelf. 'When He Was Wicked' was significantly darker than it's predecessors and didn't give in to any cooky side plots of mysterious murderers or wagers gone awry. Being in love with the wrong woman sucks. Being in love with the wrong woman whose in love with someone else sucks even more. Being in love with the wrong woman whose in love and married to your cousin is as sucky as it gets.
Read an excerpt: here
Michael Stirling saw John Stirling, eighth Earl of Kilmartin, as more of a brother than just a cousin. Michael Stirling also saw John's wife, Francesca, as the most desirable and lovely lady he's ever come across. This was not an ideal situation. Michael's love for John's wife is well hidden behind a mask of preconceived rakeish carelessness, which is really just a front. Michael is a casualty of unrequited love, but when John abruptly dies, that innocent uncontrollable fact begins to weigh even more heavily on Michael's conscience. His secret feelings release within him a sickening sea of guilt, having him believe he has committed the worst sort of betrayal to his dead cousin, and when Francesca needs his comforting presences the most, he high tails it for India.
He stays away for 4 years, but comes back to realize that the distances has done nothing to ease the reaction his heart makes for Francesca. And Francesca, who went through the ringer of emotion with the death of her beloved husband, the miscarriage she saw as her last connection to him broken, and the distance Michael has put between them. She's finally ready to move on with her life and, after a heart-to-heart with her mother, whom also lost her husband very young (but had her 8 children to help her through), Francesca decides that she would like to have a purpose in life, and that purpose is to have a baby.
Now, we've all been to sex ed. class and we all know that you need a mommy and a daddy to make a baby. Since there was no such thing as in vitro back in the 1824, Francesca will logically have to find a baby daddy (and marry the loser so that she and the child can avoid scandal, ofcorse).
In her pursuit for the right candidate, she is taken aback and scared to death by the way her thoughts wander when on the subject of the newly returned Michael. As they balance and flirt with enigmatic temptation, true feelings, and a scary illness, is brought to the forefront and Francesca and Micheal must decide exactly how far to take their second chance at the life they want.
Rating: 3 1/2 "Aww's"
My Favorite Part of the Book: Is when Michael begins to get sick. After so much tragedy and suffering so early in the book, Michael arrives back in England with the perfect opportunity just waiting to be seized. His mysterious illness is discovered, but Francesca is steadfast in her devotion to her once-friend now love interest. I love the whole sick-defenseless-in-need-of-someone-who-gives-a-damn concept. JQ did it well here.
This novel is a cut above and different from all the rest, but all the better for it. It raises the questions of "Can you love twice?" and "Do second chances really exists" and turns them on their heads. The immediate darkness of the plot had the potential to ruin the book, but there was a balance and a genuineness to the progression of love that made everything click. It wasn't a perfect love story. There were harsh realities and morbid themes and even AFTER the main guy gets the main girl, it didn't end with a classic "and they lived happily ever after". Quality is evident in this book and for that reason alone it should definitely be given a read!
*Next up in the Bridgerton Series (Book 7), 'It's In His Kiss', Hyacinth's Story!/My Review can be found: here