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A New York Times Bestseller
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn comes the story of Francesca Bridgerton, in the sixth of her beloved Regency-set novels featuring the charming, powerful Bridgerton family, now a series created by Shondaland for Netflix.
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 . . .
Unlike the hero of Quinn's newest Regency-era romance, who falls in love with his cousin's wife upon first sight, readers won't be swept off their feet by the protagonists of this tale. Indeed, while Michael Stirling, dubbed the Merry Rake, is charming enough, subdued Penelope Bridgerton rarely seems worthy of his pursuit. All is well at the novel's outset, aside from the fact that Michael covets his cousin, the Earl of Kilmartin's, wife. Then, barely two chapters into the book, his cousin suffers an aneurysm and dies. Devastated and unable to cope with his new position as earl and his feelings for Penelope, Michael flees to India for four years, only to return still very much in love and suffering from malaria. In London, the two attend social events, trade quips and try to restore their friendship, but the more intimate they become, the more their feelings of guilt gnaw at them. Guilt is the only thing that stands in the way of the couple's happiness, and it's often frustrating to witness their slow, overwrought progression from denial to acceptance. While this book possesses some of the qualities that Quinn's fans have come to expect sprightly prose, feverish love scenes and well-developed secondary characters it is weighed down by the sheer intensity of the protagonists' grief.