Dammit I really REALLY wanted to give this a higher rating simply because I was looking forward to reading this for a long time and it just sounded SO good. It was sitting in my TBR pile for a few years, I finally got my hands on a copy and eagerly waited to read it. I think I jinxed it even before I started the book. :P
This is the 6th book in the Bridgerton series,this one focusing on the 6th sibling Francesca Bridgerton. She faces a tragic loss as a young wife left to run an estate and household by herself. Her dear friend and husband's cousin Michael Stirling is there to help her and is the new earl with a secrete he tries to keep to himself. What automatically had me jumping at reading this was not only the series (cause it's been pretty marvelous so far) but the synopsis of the story. The set up was quite delicious IMO. Having a charming handsome man, Michael Stirling, fall for his cousin's wife upon first meeting. Yes yes it's quite fluffy and totally cliche but the hook that reeled me in was him keeping his feelings a secrete for six years and trying to deal with it throughout the years and coming face to face with her after four years. I love love LOVE stories where you have a character who's secretly in love with the hero or heroine. It just makes me weak at the knees. I'm a total sucker for stories with this situation. And when it's the hero who's in love, it's even more intriguing and delicious.
The tone of this book is not light and fluff, it's riddled with angst and deals with pretty heavy emotion. Which is my kind of book. The beginning was a great start, I dived right in and could not put it down. I was loving it so much, the set up was there the characters just sucked me in completely. My problem was the pacing of the book as the story progressed. Given the circumstances I could understand why the author chose to wait it out, it's more realistic but I just felt the follow up for Michael and Francesca to finally be together went a little stale. I feel that the author spent a little too much time writing lengthly (and sometimes redundant) dialogues that IMO went nowhere or could have been much shorter. She spent so much time on the two dancing around each other having stop and stalled conversations that would just hang there only to finally come together at the end and confess their feelings (Francesca's feelings to be more precise) literally on the very last page. Again I LOVE angst, and dramatic build ups but I don't like stories that drag out for a conclusion that is so short and abrupt. It makes it harder to believe. Plus I felt kind of cheated. The ending to me was so rushed and abrupt it didn't fit with the pacing of the rest of the story. I found myself wanting way more then was given to me. I just felt this was missing something that was there in the previous books.
I guess the issue was more of I felt I didn't and couldn't really relate as much to Francesca. I didn't really get to know her like I did with the other Bridgerton siblings. She is the quiet most reserved sibling from the whole family but her personality and her actions I just could not click with. The author didn't really flesh her character out to be honest like she did with the other Bridgerton sisters which left me totally confused. She was completely isolated from the family which I thought was a bit odd as well. Plus the timeline was a little confusing considering the stories from the other books seemed to collide in this. I felt there was so much more that could have been touched on with Francesca and her feelings towards Michael. I got more of his POV then I did with her. I kept waiting and DYING to get more from her and them in general.
I loved Micheal, loved him. He stood out to me for so many reasons. Very intense character who feels things deeply. He broke my heart with how much he loved Francesca and how deeply he cared for her and wanted to be with her yet was guilt ridden over it. He carefully disguised his feelings under a hyped persona of a 'merry rake'. And while yes he's very charming and full of wit and rakish in many ways he kept his real feelings hidden very deep. His feelings for Francesca and how he loved her with such intensity is what enthralled me, he made me believe it, Francesca on the other hand I struggled with. I understood her, I felt for her, I just wish Quinn delved a little deeper with her or at least their story as a couple together.
It was still a great book, heartbreaking amazing story but for me personally it didn't have that whole package that was there in the previous books. Which bummed me because the set up of the story was all there and would have easily been one of my favs from the series.