Ebook Review: “When He Was Wicked,” By: Julia Quinn
Ah, it’s taken a little while to get here, but we’ve come to one of my favorite subgenre/themes/what ever you want to call it – the longing, tortured soul. Call it whatever you want, judge all you want, but now and then, everyone likes to see it. I’m not sure what that says about me as a reader/writer, but there you have it: I love the longing and I won’t apologize for it. :p
Anyway, in “When He Was Wicked,” Michael (our rake/hero) falls deeply in love with Francesca upon laying eyes on her. Unfortunately for him, this happens to be on the day of her wedding…to his sweet cousin, John. Francesca and John are very much in love, and despite his secret love for her, Michael becomes good friends with Francesca. He even entertains the young couple with filtered versions of his exploits when Francesca asks him to, “tell her something wicked,” since he is quite the naughty fellow with the ladies.
Sadly, John dies only a few years into his marriage to Francesca. Michael is devastated to lose the cousin that was more like a brother to him and is laden with guilt when John’s title/land/money fall to him. The guilt of wanting Francesca and sadness over John’s death cause Michael to flee to India, where he stays for several years. Francesca is wrecked by losing a husband she loved, having a miscarriage over the stress, and not being able to lean on her friend (Michael) for the support she needs.
The story picks up again when Michael returns to England to fulfill his duties as the new Earl of Kilmartin, the first of which is to enter polite society and find a wife. At the same time, Francesca (who has lived in mourning since John’s death) has decided that she wants a baby…which means that she’ll have to start husband hunting.
Francesca and Michael rekindle their friendship and unlike before, Francesca begins to feel attracted to him. But the specter of John and their separate fears of hurting his memory keep the two apart. Until the force that pulls them together cannot be stopped.
I really enjoyed this story for a few reasons: 1) well, we’ve already established that I enjoy “longing” in stories. 2) The characters actually have a good reason to be weary of being together – the feeling that they would be somehow dishonoring someone they both loved. And unlike other books, that sometimes gloss over giant issues like this one, this book does not. 3) The hero decides that the only way to get our heroine to marry him is to seduce her – throughly. Excellent. And all you men thought that we wanted you to give us a diamond and to go down on one knee. <Giggle> Tsk, Tsk.
I was, however, slightly annoyed with one romantic novel trope used in this novel – the hero/heroine (I won’t say which) doesn’t realize that they are in love until they think the other is near death. Erg. Luckily, this didn’t happen to the very end and was pretty short in duration.
I give this book 4 our of 5 stars for steaminess (our hero was a rake, after all) and heart twisting longings. One star deducted for, “oh, I didn’t realize I loved you until I thought you were going to die” trope.