by Julia Quinn

July 2004
ISBN: 0-06-053123-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

When Michael Stirling sees Francesca Bridgerton for the first time he falls in love. Hard! Unfortunately, no harmonius future or love lies ahead for them since Francesca is in love with, and marries, his cousin John. Years later Francesca is free again and Michael is now the earl. Her past experiences as Michael's confidante and friend taught her to enjoy his wickedness, but now she fears it. Over the years, Michael could never believe that his desires and dreams might come true. And his guilt over just wishing for them keeps him from enjoying them.

There are moments when the story flows, when the dialogue is swift and fun and one canít help but love the characters. All of them. However, more often I felt bored by Francesca and Michaelís constant whining of how it would be a betrayal to John if they were to follow their desires, their wishes. It might be an accurate portrayal of two persons facing those exact circumstances, but it doesnít make good reading and allows for no sensual build up, as it is always paired with guilt.

Because of the charactersí tendency to hide and run from their feelings I didnít enjoy the story as much as I hoped I would. Julia Quinn is obviously very good at her craft, it shows in her spot-on dialogue and those moments where only a few right words bring to life a character, a scene. However, no matter how talented the writer or how good the writing, itís just not good enough in When He Was Wicked. Julia Quinnís latest offering feels too uninspired, more like a task to be completed than like a labor of love.

Iím sure that readers eager to read yet another installment in the Bridgerton family series will be satisfied enough. For those looking for more, for a story to transport them to another time, another world it is just doesnít work. It seems for me rereading earlier Bridgeton family stories or waiting for a whole new series are in order to rekindle the wonder of reading a Julia Quinn release.

Reviewed in June 2004 by Kris Alice.

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