Size Doesn’t Matter (63): When He Was Wicked; If I Was Your Girl

Size Doesn’t Matter (63): When He Was Wicked; If I Was Your GirlWhen He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn
Series: Bridgertons #6
Published by Avon on October 13, 2009
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 388
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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four-half-stars

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.

After 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 . . .

Yes, I’m still obsessively reading about the Bridgertons. NO REGRETS.

When He Was Wicked is my favorite ship yet. Intellectually, I think Romancing Mister Bridgerton was probably the best book in the series, but the sexual tension in When He Was Wicked is off the chart, and I love the way Michael and Francesca tease and mock one another. Quinn does a brilliant job with the friends-to-lovers change.

Also, thank goodness, this book deviates from the more standard Bridgerton formula. Not that I dislike the formula on the whole, but it’s nice to have something fresh. Francesca, having already been married, isn’t a virgin, knows how things work, and has more agency in her story as a result. It’s also nice that Michael fell hard and fast and was the one doing the pining.

Despite the fact that Francesca is the least Bridgerton of the Bridgertons (a bit of a loner, really, and she doesn’t feel like she’s included in the family), there are some fabulous family moments in When He Was Wicked. The scenes where Colin, shipper extraordinaire, talks to Michael about Francesca are completely brills, and they offer a behind the scenes glimpse of his romance with Penelope. Initially, I was confused about why this one was in the same time as the prior two, but it ended up working perfectly.

When He Was Wicked gets off to a slightly slow start, but after that it’s a delightful romance novel. It’s my top ship of the series, followed by Daphne/Simon and Colin/Penelope. Only two more books left. Eek!

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif fight like a married couple frozen

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (63): When He Was Wicked; If I Was Your GirlIf I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Published by Flatiron Books on May 3, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: ALA
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three-half-stars

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. There’s a reason why she transferred schools for her senior year, and why she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she’s ever met—open, honest, kind—and Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself…including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won't be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.

If I Was Your Girl is another book that Dahlia (author of much awesomeness) pushed on me, lovingly obviously. No doubt that this book was already on my to-read list, but I was also afraid it would be too sad for me to handle, so it was only with Dahlia’s urging that it reached MUST HAS levels. As expected from a Dahlia rec, If I Was Your Girl is most excellent.

In the Author’s Note, Meredith Russo explains that she’s not addressing all trans experiences, in a note specifically aimed at her cis readers, and that in fact Amanda’s experience sometimes leans toward being the easiest possible experience. I can definitely see where Amanda has an almost idealized trans experience, in that she’s one hundred percent certain of who she is (even when she cannot get others to agree or accept that), her mom supports her enough to get her surgery when she’s still young, and she not only passes but is so attractive she immediately is pursued at her new school by cute, popular guys.

“Being a girl in this world means being afraid. The fear’ll keep you safe. It’ll keep you alive.”

“Is it really that bad?”

She ran the balm along my lips and signaled for me to pucker. “Maybe not. Who knows? World’s different now. When you told me about . . . your condition, I was more sad for you for having to deal with being a girl than anything else.”

By starting with a heroine like Amanda, I think Russo achieves some really effective points. Even for someone like Amanda, who passes effortlessly, life as a trans woman is terrifying. She has so much completely legitimate fear for her safety. It took a suicide attempt for her parents to accept the idea of her as a trans person. Trusting others is incredibly difficult, and it’s a constant battle for Amanda to decide whether she should tell people so that they really know her or if she should just pass so that she can be safe and accepted.

The female friendships in the book are mostly fantastic. I love her little group of friends: Layla, Chloe and Anna. The book’s a bit too brief to allow for getting to know any of the girl’s especially well, but they do get their own personalities and complexities. Then there’s Bee. I have some feelings about her role in the story. View Spoiler »

If I Was Your Girl is very heavy, but there’s a nice layer of sweetness too, so the dark stuff isn’t overpowering. Certainly, it’s not a fluffy book, but it’s not massively depressing.

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One response to “Size Doesn’t Matter (63): When He Was Wicked; If I Was Your Girl”

  1. Joanne Levy says:

    I wasn’t sure if I’d like When He Was Wicked because Frannie was such a minor Bridgerton in books that came before, but in reading her book, I understood and came to love her. Plus, yes, this one took a different turn and I did love it for that uniqueness. Also, it’s been a while since I read it, but I remember really loving how they shared their grief.
    Joanne Levy recently posted…How to Show Love to an AuthorMy Profile

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