Concurrent with the previous two books in the Bridgerton saga is Franchesca’s story. Although she is rarely mentioned and even more rarely seen in the previous novels, Francesca is a Bridgerton through and through. Married a few years before the start of this story, Franchesca is supremely happy with her husband, John Stirling, Earl of Kilmartin, and they are set to celebrate their anniversary when he dies suddenly. Left widowed, she turns to the new Earl, John’s cousin Michael, for support. Michael, however, feels suddenly that he must get away from Franchesca as well as John’s memory, and flees to India for three years.
As the years go by, Franchesca puts her time as the Countess of Kilmartin into running the estate in Michael’s place, but all the while she feels lonelier and lonelier. After three years, she happens to arrive in London for the season at the same moment that Michael returns from the continent, both of them ready to face the marriage mart. As they attempt to rekindle their friendship and navigate their way through the overcrowded ballrooms unexpected sparks begin to fly, and Franchesca finds herself running back to Scotland in the fear that she might dishonor John’s memory by reaching for the one thing she never thought she would find again: love.
I really wish we had focused a bit more on her first marriage, since John felt distant an unimportant, despite him being deeply involved in the storyline and the two main character’s lives. That being said, I quite enjoyed Colin’s interruptions of Michael’s quiet evenings, egging him on. We got to know both main characters pretty well despite Franchesca being a bit more of a loner than the rest of the Bridgertons, which explains her being rarely present in the previous books. Colin, Eloise, and Hyacinth are in nearly every book, meddling in their siblings affairs, but Franchesca operates almost entirely independent of her family. This book was mostly Franchesca and Michael insisting they could never do exactly what they were in the midst of doing, and people pointing out what they were doing, even while they denied it. The illness aspects of the book definitely helped move the plot along, but also detracted from potential character development.
I am always unsure how I feel about this one. On the one hand, I want more of Franchesca’s story. I need to understand her as a child, sharing a birthday with Eloise, in order to understand her as an adult. Maybe that is the problem I also had with the previous book. I needed more of a relationship between Eloise and Franchesca to understand Eloise.
HHC rating: 3.5 Stars.
Other Reviews in this Series:
Book 1 – The Duke and I
Book 2 – The Viscount Who Loved Me
Book 3 – An Offer From A Gentleman
Book 4 – Romancing Mister Bridgerton
Book 5 – To Sir Phillip, With Love
Book 7 – It’s In His Kiss
Book 8 – On The Way To The Wedding