This is the 6th book in Julia Quinn's beloved Bridgerton series and a decent addition to the series it is. I really liked Michael Stirling's character. He finds himself completely and totally in love with Francesca from their first meeting. Unfortunately for him, the meeting took place at the festivities of Francesca's marriage to Michael's cousin John. I thought this approach to a romance book was very interesting. First off, it seems the pattern for romances is that the women fall first then the man follows when it comes to love. It was a nice change of pace that in this book it was the other way around. Secondly, the reader has to wonder how can a man fall in love with his cousin's wife and the book have a happy ending. This approach keeps the reader (at least this one) reading full into the dark of night to find the happy ending.
I have to admit that as far as likability, Francesca, is just OK. I didn't find her nearly as interesting as her sisters Daphne or Eloise. However, if you have read the Bridgerton books in order you will know how Francesca becomes available to Michael even after being married to John which the back blurb of the book also hints about.
This part will contain some spoilers so for those who have yet to read the Bridgerton books you might want to discontinue reading at this point.
What I found so compelling about this book was that I could identify with Francesca and Michael's struggles to thier attraction and the memory of John. If you have ever lost love, finding the courage to move on is a difficult task and Quinn did an excellent job of portraying the heartbreak of it all. I was glad that although she did introduce the reader to all the characters in the beginning she didn't make us fall in love with John and then take him away from us. I think that would have been difficult to write and even more difficult for a reader to read. It would have made the love of Michael and Francesca somewhat tainted I think.
Although I couldn't give this book an honest 5 star rating (I firmly believe that it isn't nearly as good as her first couple Bridgerton books) it is a strong 4 stars. It sends a little message out to those who have found love and lost it. When a loved one dies, love really doesn't die with them. It can and will find you again if you just open yourself up and let it.