"Bridgerton"'s Francesca is probably the easiest Bridgerton sibling to overlook. In the first two seasons (and in the first few books of the series by Julia Quinn), she's entirely in the background and has a quieter personality. However, she's become fan-favorite character, with one of the most beloved stories of the entire series. She doesn't take the spotlight until the sixth book, "When He Was Wicked," but if you're curious to find out what happens to Francesca ahead of time (especially now that her character has been recast in the Netflix series), read on for all the spoilers!
Francesca's story actually is quietly seeded into the overall Bridgerton story before her featured book, even though she's not in the spotlight as much as her bolder, more attention-grabbing siblings. She debuts in society and marries fairly quickly, falling in love with John Stirling, the Earl of Kilmartin. John's closest friend is his cousin Michael, who is harboring a secret: he has feelings for Francesca but keeps them tucked away, remaining good friends with both John and Francesca. Two years into Francesca and John's marriage, however, tragedy strikes. John dies in his sleep, and the newly widowed Francesca discovers that she is pregnant and then miscarries. She's left devastated, and the earldom passes to Michael.
Four years pass, and Francesca and Michael's friendship is strained by the loss of John. Francesca spends most of her time with her family, although she still carries out some of her duties as the former Countess of Kilmartin, since Michael has never married. Eventually, she realizes that 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'll find another true love match.
At the same time, Michael is reluctantly returning home after spending years in India to escape the grief of John's death and the pressures of the earldom. He, too, is facing the prospect of marrying without love: he needs an heir, but he's still in love with Francesca — the one woman he can't have. He also has a new secret to keep: he's dealing with malaria after catching it during his travels.
As Michael and Francesca reconnect, she begins to notice him in a way that she hadn't previously — which, of course, sends her spiraling into guilt every time the thought crosses her mind. His reputation as a rake is also constantly on her mind, although she doesn't know that his rakish exploits are in part to distract himself from his feelings for her.
Over time, however, the intense attraction between Francesca and Michael grows to the point where they can't ignore it. Even once they act on those feelings (complete with some of the steamiest scenes in the whole book series), however, they still struggle to reconcile their would-be romance with the obligations they both still feel toward John. They do, as you can probably guess, eventually find a way to work through their struggles and end up in a happy marriage. It's a more mature story about grief and second love, and we can't wait to see how the TV series adapts this much-loved book.