When He Was Wicked (Bridgerton Series #6)

When He Was Wicked (Bridgerton Series #6)

Other Format

View All Available Formats & Editions


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.

A fter 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 . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781419372049
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date: 02/28/2006
Series: Bridgerton Series , #6
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Julia Quinn started writing her first book one month after finishing college and has been tapping away at her keyboard ever since. The #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than two dozen novels for Avon Books, she is a graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and is one of only sixteen authors ever to be inducted in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. Please visit her on the web at www.juliaquinn.com.

Read an Excerpt

When He Was Wicked

Chapter One

... I wouldn't call it a jolly good time, but it's not as bad as that. There are women, after all, and where there are women, I'm bound to make merry.

--from Michael Stirling to his cousin
John, the Earl of Kilmartin,
posted from the 52nd Foot Guards
during the Napoleonic Wars

In every life there is a turning point. A moment so tremendous, so sharp and clear that one feels as if one's been hit in the chest, all the breath knocked out, and one knows, absolutely knows without the merest hint of a shadow of a doubt that one's life will never be the same.

For Michael Stirling, 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 and then turning the tables until he was the victor, of caressing and kissing and making love to them but never actually allowing his heart to become engaged, he took one look at Francesca Bridgerton and fell so fast and so hard into love it was a wonder he managed to remain standing.

Unfortunately for Michael, however, Francesca's surname was to remain Bridgerton a mere thirty-six hours longer; the occasion of their meeting was, lamentably, a supper celebrating her imminent wedding to his cousin.

Life was ironic that way, Michael liked to think in his more polite moods.

In his less polite moods, he used a different adjective entirely.

And his moods, since falling in love with his first cousin's wife, were not often polite.

Oh, he hid it well. It wouldn't do to be visibly out of sorts. Then some annoyingly perceptive soul might actually take notice, and -- God forbid -- inquire as to his welfare. And while Michael Stirling held a not unsubstantiated pride in his ability to dissemble and deceive (he had, after all, seduced more women than anyone cared to count, and had somehow managed to do it all without ever once being challenged to a duel) -- Well, the sodding truth of it was that he'd never been in love before, and if ever there was a time that a man might lose his ability to maintain a façade under direct questioning, this was probably it.

And so he laughed, and was very merry, and he continued to seduce women, trying not to notice that he tended to close his eyes when he had them in bed, and he stopped going to church entirely, because there seemed no point now in even contemplating prayer for his soul. Besides, the parish church near Kilmartin dated to 1432, and the crumbling stones certainly couldn't take a direct strike of lightning.

And if God ever wanted to smite a sinner, he couldn't do better than Michael Stirling.

Michael Stirling, Sinner.

He could see it on a calling card. He'd have had it printed up, even -- his was just that sort of black sense of humor -- if he weren't convinced it would kill his mother on the spot.

Rake he might be, but there was no need to torture the woman who'd borne him.

Funny how he'd never seen all those other women as a sin. He still didn't. They'd all been willing, of course; you couldn't seduce an unwilling woman, at least not if you took seduction at the true sense of the word and took care not to confuse it with rape. They had to actually want it, and if they didn't -- if Michael sensed even a hint of unease, he turned and walked away. His passions were never so out of control that he couldn't manage a quick and decisive departure.

And besides, he'd never seduced a virgin, and he'd never slept with a married woman. Oh very well, one ought to remain true to oneself, even while living a lie -- he'd slept with married women, plenty of them, but only the ones whose husbands were rotters, and even then, not unless she'd already produced two male offspring; three, if one of the boys seemed a little sickly.

A man had to have rules of conduct, after all.

But this ... This was beyond the pale. Entirely unacceptable. This was the one transgression (and he'd had many) that was finally going to blacken his soul, or at the very least -- and this was assuming he maintained the strength never to act upon his desires -- make it a rather deep shade of charcoal. Because this ... this --

He coveted his cousin's wife.

He coveted John's wife.


John, who, damn it all, was more of a brother to him than one of his own could ever have been. John, whose family had taken him in when his father had died. John, whose father had raised him and taught him to be a man. John, with whom --

Ah, bloody hell. Did he really need to do this to himself? He could spend a sennight cataloguing all the reasons why he was going straight to hell for having chosen John's wife with whom to fall in love. And none of it was ever going to change one simple fact.

He couldn't have her.

He could never have Francesca Bridgerton Stirling.

But, he thought with a snort as he slouched into the sofa and propped his ankle over his knee, watching them across their drawing room, laughing and smiling, and making nauseating eyes at each other, he could have another drink.

"I think I will," he announced, downing it in one gulp. "What was that, Michael?" John asked, his hearing superb, as always, damn it.

Michael produced an excellent forgery of a smile and lifted his glass aloft. "Just thirsty," he said, maintaining the perfect picture of a bon vivant.

They were at Kilmartin House, in London, as opposed to Kilmartin (no House, no Castle, just Kilmartin), up in Scotland, where the boys had grown up, or the other Kilmartin House, in Edinburgh ...

When He Was Wicked. Copyright © by Julia Quinn. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

When He Was Wicked (Bridgerton Series #6) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 189 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly Exception!!! Hence the 5 stars.  This has been my favorite book int series , but I still have 2 more to go.  It much better if you read them in order, they are certainly stand alone books, but reading them in numerical succession adds to the bid picture of the is big family.  I think Julia Quin is one of the best romance novelist writing today.  This was my favorite book, because I love to read about the passion between the couple and these 2 had it in spades. I warn you the intimate scenes are quite steamy.  Like nothing I have read before.  I also found myself laughing out loud and sighing out loud too while reading this book.  He has a little bit of everything.  Those or the characteristics I look for in a good romance novel. I hope you enjoy it as I much as I did.    
Shermaria Major More than 1 year ago
I've read this book a number of times and it never fails to make me laugh and cry, and I fall in love with the hero, Michael Sterling, all over again. The herione is not the perfect herione that your used to reading about, but a woman who we all can empathize with. I've read hundreds of romance novels....When He Was Wicked is in my top 5. This is one of the best novels I've ever read:) You won't be able to put it down.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1818, the first time ever Michael ¿The Merry Rake¿ Stirling saw Francesca Bridgerton he knows he is in love although he never experienced that feeling before. However, he can not act on his emotion because Francesca is to wed his best friend, his cousin John in less than two days. Michael ironically thinks that he now has two new feelings: love and for the first time envy. Ironically, he never coveted the earldom or the wealth of the man he considers his ¿brother¿.------ Two years later, Michael hides his love for Francesca from her and his cousin. John complains of headache and soon afterward he, not quite thirty and in seemingly perfect health, is dead. At twenty-two, Francesca is a widow and Michael is the earl. He still hides his feelings while they mourn their loss until one innocent night he offers simple solace that turns into heated lovemaking. The aftermath is that both feel guilty as if they let down John. As they evade one another so as not to explore their feelings, Francesca begins to wonder if John arranged the whole thing as a heavenly matchmaker.------ Title aside as no one is ¿wicked¿ in a nasty sense; fans will appreciate this wonderful Regency romance starring a loving relationship triangle between three wonderful protagonists. John was a nice respected person loved by his wife and his cousin so that his memory serves as a ghostly barrier to Michael and Francesca following up on their feelings. The two illnesses that John and Michael respectfully suffered from provide a feel for the era as Julia Quinn uses that to anchor her sixth fabulous Bridgerton book.------ Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is now and probably forevermore going to be my favorite of the Bridgerton series. Michael Stirling is wonderful. Read it and see.....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my favorite of the series because I fell in love with Michael! I actually just found the Bridgerton series and have loved each one. But like everyone else, was wondering if we get a happily-ever after for our Frascesca! I love the timing of this book, in regards to the rest of the family finding love. I love that Michael has to control his desire for so long....and them the unleashing! O. M. Gosh! If you like the gush of love and need all swirled into friendship and forever....like me you will fall in Love with Michael and all his pent up desire. Enjoy! And thank you Julia!
SexyGlaize More than 1 year ago
It made me fall in love over and over again. Nicely written and exceptionally told! ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Deeply moving. After reading this, please read Frannie and Michael's second epilogue in Brigertons HEA. It is guaranteed to bring a smile.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love all of Julia Quinn's Bridgeton novels, however this one was entirely different. It touched on more of an emotional level and a journey that I found to be a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My favorite of the series. Michael is one of the sexiest characters I've ever come across in a romance novel. A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one of my favorites. You know its good when you want to read it more than once!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a really good book, could have a better epilogue, but still, was a beautiful one.
BriC More than 1 year ago
I love this entire series and I've loved every book. Having said that, this is my favorite of the series. It has the most passion between the two main characters and I really feel like you can relate to their love and chemistry they can't fight. I couldn't make this fit but I'd also recommend Eloisa James' Desperate Duchess series. Its the same time period and also very funny.
curlyloulou More than 1 year ago
This book was intriguing. It got me interested very quickly but there was a lot medical problems in this book. Overall, I liked it enough and it entertained me. Quick and easy read...nothing deep.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the sixth book in the Bridgerton series, and one of my favorites. It is Francesca's story and I was not entirely expecting to enjoy it because I did not feel as if Quinn had properly introduced Francesca to the reader in her previous books. But I was dreadfully wrong. I found myself not only adoring her, but the male lead in the book, Michael, was so stunningly tragic sometimes I felt I could not entirely handle the amount of pain he put himself through for his love. I'll admit, this book is a bit slow in the first half as the first 150 pages or so are all relatively the same. However, once it gets going I felt I was more than rewarded for my patience. WHEN HE WAS WICKED is easily the hottest of all the Bridgerton novels. I was utterly blown away by the consummation scene. I completely understood why Quinn felt the necessity for so much buildup to the sexual climax and it was so completely WORTH IT!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read and loved all of Julia's Bridgerton series but this book is by far my favorite. It's not as light-hearted as her usual stuff, but thats only because Julia delves deeper into the characters and their pain and guilt. Michael is a fabulous hero who will definitely remain one of my all-time favorites. How can anyone not absolutely adore him? If you like well written stories with some meat, sexy heroes who adore their heroines, some wit, some angst, some steamy scenes... then this is the book for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First time reading a Julia Quinn novel, not sure if I will read anymore. The only reason I saw this and knocked off a star is because it took too long for the characters to truly interact. This is a book in a lengthy series so I do not understand so much of a backstory since it was established in previous books. Call me impatient but it I do want to wait until 200 and some pages for the characters actually interact and start their true feelings. Many words and lines are repeated throughout the novel before the characters start their romance, foreshadowing I suppose but I find it overdone throughout this novel. When the main characters finally find themselves alone together and start their romantic and emotional journey the book finally takes a turn for the better. There on out, the story line is great, a wonderful development of of the main character's emotions and reasoning behind their reluctance and emotions. If you can make it 200 pages in learning about each MC's family life then you'll love the rest of the book. Their love is strong and true.
abigailyow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Julia Quinn's books. I really do but Francesca and Michael's story was just downright boring. I couldn't care a farthing about them. Also, I found the timeline in this book a bit off and I also felt some of the events were put together for convenience sake. Whatever it is, I just hope my next attempt to read it's in his kiss would be better.
ImBookingIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Light, fluffy fun, exactly what I was looking for. I really enjoyed the balance between the male and female leads.
foreverbklover on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved it!!!!! Different from the rest since the Bridgerton family are not a part of the storyline. Very intense/Darker, not the same funny, upbeat tale as the others. Great love scenes, which again were different from past series...
halo776 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm really quite surprised. I've now read the 6th Bridgerton novel in the series, and I'm still just as eager for the next installment as I was after the first. That is quite an unusual feat. Normally, I find that after the 4th book, a series starts to decline. Plots become trite and unimaginative. The author needs new characters, a hiatus, time to re-focus and think of something new. That's not the case with Julia Quinn's Bridgerton novels. Her style is constant throughout, but each book has an identity of its own within the series. In fact, although I believe they are far more enjoyable together, each book could be a fine stand-alone novel. Reading the entire series is not necessarily required, but I do find the Bridgerton siblings quite addictive and wouldn't dream of not reading to the very last. "WHWW" finally introduces us to Francesa, the sibling who's been missing for much of the series. We just haven't known much about her before now. We know she was married and widowed within two years, but she hasn't made frequent appearances in earlier books. Francesca is different from her sisters. She's a bit more reserved and quiet, although she favors them physically and shares their intelligence and wit. We get her back-story in this novel, learning about her husband, John, and their happiness together. Since she was widowed and I knew this story would be about a second chance at love, I had almost expected the love she felt for her first husband to be down-played. I thought perhaps it wasn't a love match, and that it would be nothing compared to her feelings for the new hero, Michael. What is so unique is that Julia Quinn has made it obvious that she truly loved her first husband and they were very happy together. It's heartbreaking when he dies, and you feel that along with Francesca. Michael is a rake, but he is a perfectly honorable hero. He has loved Francesca since he first met her, when she was betrothed to his cousin, John. His feelings for her have been the source of much anguish and guilt, causing him to leave the country after John's death. It's obvious that as much as he loved Francesca, he loved John as well and was tormented by the loss of his friend and cousin. He is the only person who can truly understand the depth of Francesca's mourning, because he is mourning for John as well. When Michael and Francesca are together, there is such chemistry. It's not young and green and fresh...but it's somehow just "more." There are many sexy scenes in this book, and it's quite a bit more steamy than the previous Bridgerton novels. As a widow, Francesca is not so shy, and she becomes more aggressive than the other women in the family. One problem I had with this (causing me to rate it a 4 instead of a 5), is that sex plays a very big role in their romance. Once Michael & Francesca are intimate, that's all they want to do. It doesn't seem (for her, at least) to have anything to do with love. It seems like she's been without a man for so long, and Michael is just fulfilling her physical needs. It was a little hearbreaking for me to watch this man love her so deeply, and yet it seemed she was only using him. Also, I have to wonder, 19th-century standards of conduct what they were, how she was able to behave so brazenly and not accept his marriage proposal at once. Certainly, a woman of her status would not have engaged in such scandalous behavior without realizing marriage was necessary. It seemed like her lack of response to his proposal (since she didn't accept, but she didn't say "no," either) only served to lengthen the plot and extend the suspense a bit longer. I just felt it was unrealistic of the times. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It's not my favorite in the series, but it was not a disappointment. I didn't mind that Michael got malaria. It was not something I wanted him to have, but this was a common ailment, and in the interest of realism, I can accept it. It was actually very interesting, and I enjoy
Sugarbeat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The sixth book in the Bridgerton series explores the relationship between Francesca Bridgerton and John & Michael Sterling. Francesca meets Michael Sterling 2 days before she marries his best friend and cousin, John Sterling and for 2 years Michael hides his feelings for Francesca. One day John complains of a headache and lies down for a nap only to die of what is likely a brain hemorrhage at the age of 32. So, at 22 Francesca is a widow and Michael is now the Earl. Michael still attempts to hide his feelings from Francesca as they both mourn their loss. One night Michael offers simple solace to Francesca and this turns into heated lovemaking that leaves them both feeling guilty. They avoid one another to prevent a repeat performance, but Francesca begins to wonder if John is arranging things from heaven.This wonderful book follows the lives of three friends who survive the loss of one, the subsequent mourning and deeper relationship of the two who remain. Again, a winner, as Julia Quinn deals delicately with both the loss of a young life, the miscarriage of a baby and chronic illness. A great addition to the Bridgerton series.
avernon1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Can you fall in love more than once? When one love is lost forever, can it be possible to find another.... a second chance to feel wanted, desired, cherished, loved? These are the questions running through the very soul of Francesca Bridgerton in "When He Was Wicked", the sixth installment in the Bridgerton series.Francesca is happily married and blissfully in love with her husband John, the Earl of Kilmartin. She has everything she could dream of...a man who adores her, a family who treasures her, a beautiful home and a cousin (in law), Michael Stirling, who is really her best friend. Without warning, Francesca's world is turned upside down when John suddenly dies. She has become a widow, and the one she instinctively turns to for comfort is Michael.Michael Stirling has a bit of a problem. He is utterly, totally, completely, wholly, insanely, thoroughly in love with his cousin's wife. From the moment he laid eyes upon Francesca, he was committed....committed to a life filled with lies. He pretended he was the happy rake, content to be unmarried, hopping from mistress to mistress, engaging in behaviour many men would envy. But only Michael knew it was all a lie, a show, a living hell on earth. For every day, he had to hide his true feelings, his utter love and desire for his cousin's wife. A cousin he loved like a brother, a cousin he would never betray. But with John's death comes grief, anguish and guilt because now, Michael has inherited John's title, wealth and home. But the only thing he wants is Francesca. But how could he take his cousin's wife? She feels nothing for him but kinship. She could never find out how he truly felt about her. He could never do that to John. But soon enough, a kiss is shared between Michael and Francesca that unlocks a passion unlike no other. What will happen now...for there is no going back, and Michael can no longer hide his desires.This book is quite different from what I am used to from Ms. Quinn, but I loved it anyways. It lacks the humourous, quick, easy banter I am so used to but in exchange, it is filled with a wickedness that I haven't seen in any of the previous tales. I truly felt for Michael and his tortured, romantic soul. He was a good man who could not get past the overwhelming sea of guilt he felt in loving his cousin's wife. Even when John died, Michael still wrestled with his conscience, feeling he had committed the ultimate betrayal. When he finally is pushed over the edge, I felt my heart tear in half as he finally admitted his feelings for Francesca: "It¿s because I love you, damn me to hell. Because I¿ve always loved you. Because I loved you when you were with John, and I loved you when I was in India, and God only knows I don¿t deserve you, but I love you, anyway.¿ Francesca sagged against the door. ¿How¿s that for a witty little joke?¿ he mocked. ¿I love you. I love you, my cousin¿s wife. I love you, the one woman I can never have. I love you, Francesca Bridgerton Stirling." I didn't like the heroine as much as previous female leads in this series. I saw her as indecisive and weaker than other leading ladies. But it was liberating to see a female let her guard down and become a "wicked" participant in the dance of desire. The love scenes were hot and steamy and Michael was, well....the title says it all! This was a wonderful story about moving on, about second chances....if you are lucky enough to get one, keep it close to your heart and hold on.
fishhook7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was one of my least favorite romance reads lately. The writing was just fine (I do like her style) but there was way too much other stuff and not enough of the romance story for me.
kayceel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Francesca Bridgerton (a couple of years widowed of the former earl of Stirling) finds herself drawn to her dead husband's cousin Michael, she filled with guilt. Michael feels similarly, especially since he's been in love with Francesca since the moment he saw her - a few hours before she married his cousin... Wonderful, very romantic and sexy. Not as cheerful (definitely more sad than most of the other books) but the characters are still delightful intelligent and charming.
phyllisd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Everyone knows that a Bridgerton marries for love and lives happily ever after. Well, Francesca's story is unique in that her first husband died. So, instead of an innocent heroine we have one that has suffered tragedy. This wasn't my favorite in the series but it is very good. If you read this, you should also read the second epilogue.