When He Was Wicked is the 6th book in the Bridgerton series, written by Julia Quinn. The book was published by Piatkus on 2nd November 2006 and it is 384 pages long.
As soon as Michael Stirling set eyes on Francesca Bridgerton, he fell hard in love. The only problem was that she was about to get married to his cousin John. Since the marriage, Michael has been good friends with Francesca but not being able to act on how he feels in taking its toll. Even though Michael is totally in love with Francesca, he is still known as a notorious rake and she takes pleasure in hearing stories of his wicked ways. One unexpected evening, John retires early with a headache while Michael and Francesca go for a walk but when they return, something shocking has happened. John suddenly died while the pair were out and Francesca has no idea how to deal with what happened, especially considering that she has also just found out that she's pregnant. Michael, also in turmoil, can’t handle being around Francesca and flees the country to India.
Michael and Francesca are both having hard times corresponding with each other while they are apart and they still have unresolved issues after John's death. After four years away, Michael returns to England and Francesca immediately wants to know why he has been so distant. There is still tension between the pair but when Michael falls in with malaria, Francesca knows she has to stand by his side and help him take his rightful place in society.
Francesca really wants a baby but is still not over the death of her husband. She comes out of mourning and starts to look for a husband but at the same time, she pushes Michael to look for a wife. Jealousy is extremely clear between the two and they find themselves being pushed closer and closer together but can Francesca handle the feelings that she isn't supposed to have for Michael?
What I thought
This is my favourite book out of the Bridgerton series. I read these in the order that they were released although you don't need to read them in order. Each book doesn't move on from the last one, instead it tells the story of one of each of the Bridgerton children.
Unlike most of the other books in this series, When He Was Wicked doesn't have the obvious disaster/ scandal etc. but instead focuses on the mixed feelings of each of the main characters for conflict. Although something really bad happens very early on in the book, there wasn't the near death experience or anything like that which I would normally expect from this genre.
I really felt for Michael at the beginning of the book and more so as the story developed. It had to have been extremely hard for him to be best friends with Francesca once she married his cousin without ever being able to tell her how he felt. I can only imagine how much like hell that must have felt like for him but you could see how genuinely sorry and sad he was when John died. Not knowing how to handle anything, he was a coward and ran away but I could understand his reasons for doing so. Quite a way into the story he gives Francesca an ultimatum which was long overdue I think. He shouldn't have had to feel like he was living in purgatory with her, not knowing which way her feelings were going. He wanted all or nothing and he deserved nothing less.
At the same time though, I could totally understand how Francesca was feeling. It is never easy when someone you love dies and you feel like there is no one there to help you. She didn't really understand anything about Michael's feelings after John died because she didn't know anything about his feelings for her. The friendship between the two was very strong to begin with and it was quite sad to read about when it broke down because of what happened.
As you can expect from the title, When He Was Wicked is a little bit raunchier than the other books in this genre. Yes there are sex scenes in the rest of them but nothing like what you get in this story. Michael is a very well-known rake and he has had a lot of fun with women which Francesca loves to hear about. Michael never tells her all of the details of course but that is part of what intrigues her so much. Knowing this, you can only imagine how much fun the pair have together once Francesca gets the opportunity to live this experience for herself.
I really enjoyed reading this book and the reason that it is my favourite is because it completely stands out from the rest in the series. I like reading these in order as it gives a nice build up for when you get to When He Was Wicked. If you like the genre, definitely give this one a try.