Why Francesca’s story in the Bridgerton books is a fan favorite

BRIDGERTON, from left: Ruby Stokes, Phoebe Dynevor, Will Tilston, Florence Hunt, Ruth Gemmell, Luke Thompson, Jonathan Bailey, Capital R Rake ', (Season 2, ep. 201, aired March 25, 2022).  photo: Liam Daniel / Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

BRIDGERTON, from left: Ruby Stokes, Phoebe Dynevor, Will Tilston, Florence Hunt, Ruth Gemmell, Luke Thompson, Jonathan Bailey, Capital R Rake ‘, (Season 2, ep. 201, aired March 25, 2022). photo: Liam Daniel / Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

“Bridgerton”‘s Francesca is probably the easiest Bridgerton sibling to overlook. In the first two seasons (and in the first few books in the series by Julia Quinn) she is completely in the background and has a quieter personality. However, she has become a fan-favorite character, with one of the most beloved stories in the entire series. She does not take focus until the sixth book, “When He Was Wicked,” but if you’re curious about what’s going on with Francesca beforehand (especially now that her character has been reworked in the Netflix series), read on for all spoilers!

Francesca’s story is actually quietly planted into the overall Bridgerton story prior to her featured book, though she’s not in the spotlight as much as her bolder, more attention-grabbing siblings. She debuts in society and marries pretty quickly and falls in love with John Stirling, the Earl of Kilmartin. John’s closest friend is his cousin Michael, who holds a secret: He has feelings for Francesca, but keeps them hidden away and remains good friends with both John and Francesca. Two years into Francesca and John’s marriage, however, the tragedy strikes. John dies in his sleep, and the newlywed widow Francesca discovers she is pregnant, and then has an abortion. She is left crushed, and the earldom passes to Michael.

Four years go by and Francesca and Michael’s friendship is strained by the loss of John. Francesca spends most of her time with her family, though she still performs some of her duties as the former Countess of Kilmartin, as Michael has never married. Eventually, she realizes she wants more out of her life and decides that it might be time to look for a new husband and have children, even though she doubts she will find another true love match.

At the same time, Michael reluctantly returns home after spending years in India to escape the grief over John’s death and the pressure of the earldom. He, too, faces the prospect of marrying without love: he needs an heir, but he is still in love with Francesca – the one woman he cannot have. He also has a new secret to keep: he is dealing with malaria after catching it during his travels.

As Michael and Francesca reconnect, she begins to notice him in a way she had not done before – which of course makes her whirl in guilt every time the thought crosses her mind. His reputation as a rake is also constant on her mind, though she does not know that his rakish exploits are in part to distract herself from his feelings for her.

But over time, the intense attraction between Francesca and Michael grows to a point where they can not ignore it. Even when they first act on these emotions (complete with some of the most steamy scenes in the entire book series), they still struggle to reconcile their budding romance with the obligations they both still feel towards John. They find, as you can probably guess, eventually a way to work their way through their struggles and end up in a happy marriage. It’s a more mature story of grief and other love, and we can not wait to see how the TV series adapts to this much-loved book.

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