Review for When He Was Wicked, by Julia Quinn:
This book was a damned disappointment. Quinn is perhaps my favorite romance novelist, but When He Was Wicked just sucked.
Michael is in love with his cousin John's wife. Francesca Bridgerton Stirling is happily married to John, and the three of them make a happy trio of close friends. Michael is careful to hide his feelings, and no one suspects them. Then, one day, John suddenly dies, and everything changes. Though Michael resists his feelings out of guilt, he still loves Francesca, and eventually they marry and live happily ever after together, of course.
There is much I liked about the book objectively, but these things did not make a whole romance. Michael and Francesca are each likeable, and Michael's love for her is very sweet. I also really, reaaalllyy respected that Quinn didn't demonize John for the sake of the romance. The problem is that Michael and Francesca SUCK together. They have ZERO chemistry. I did not, for a second, believe that Francesca really loved him. They never have an enjoyable conversation after John's death. Even Michael's love for Frannie was only plausible because it was love-at-first-sight. But their relationship was entirely physical--their sex was the only real connection I saw between the two. (And even the sex scenes boorrrinngg and waaayyyy too numerous)
Frannie often says that she doesn't know why she's with Michael, but that she can't stop. I don't think Quinn knew why Frannie was with him. Frannie essentially becomes a slave to sex, and there is no other rationale behind her decision to stay with Michael.
Ah, well. They can't all be gems. I give this book a D.