Who Does Francesca Marry in the “Bridgerton” Books? All About Her Love Story

Bridgerton is setting up Francesca's love story with the introduction of John Stirling in season 3

<p>Liam Daniel/Netflix</p> Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton in Season 3 of

Liam Daniel/Netflix

Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton in Season 3 of 'Bridgerton'

Francesca’s love story is already playing out in Bridgerton season 3.

Though this season primarily revolves around Colin and Penelope’s friends-to-lovers romance, the Netflix series is already laying the groundwork for a pivotal Bridgerton storyline.

As Francesca (Hannah Dodd) makes her debut in society this season, she is met with some eligible suitors, including a prominent match from Queen Charlotte herself.

However, all of all the men hoping to court her, Francesca finds herself drawn to a quiet man named John Stirling (Victor Alli), who is the Earl of Kilmartin. While the introduction of his character seemingly opens the door for a love match for Francesca, he plays a much larger role in her story in the books.

Here’s everything to know about Francesca’s love story and who she marries in the Bridgerton novels.

Warning: major spoilers for Bridgerton ahead.

Related: 12 Shows and Movies Like Bridgerton If You Need More Period Dramas After Season 3

Who does Francesca marry in the Bridgerton books?

<p>Liam Daniel/Netflix</p> Hannah Dodd and Victor Alli in Bridgerton

Liam Daniel/Netflix

Hannah Dodd and Victor Alli in Bridgerton

While Francesca appears throughout the Bridgerton book series, her love story plays out in the sixth novel, When He Was Wicked.

Unlike the series, Francesca and John’s romance takes place largely off the page between the third and fourth books. It isn’t until When He Was Wicked that readers learn more about how their relationship came to be.

The book begins with Francesca and John happily married and living in Scotland as Earl and Countess of Kilmartin. In addition to enjoying their life together as a married couple, they also share a close bond with John’s family, notably his cousin Michael, who is like a brother to him.

Readers learn that Francesca and John developed a quick bond early on as their engagement took place shortly after Francesca debuted into society. Through letters sent to her sisters, Francesca further details her intense feelings for John.

However, as the two are preparing for their second wedding anniversary, tragedy strikes.

Related: Bridgerton: A Guide to Who Each Sibling Marries in the Books

What happens to John Stirling in the Bridgerton books?

In the book, John suddenly dies from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. The event takes place early on in the novel as John lies down after suffering a headache. As Francesca returns from a walk with Michael, she finds him dead.

John’s death, as well as Francesca and Michael’s mutual grieving, is a heavy theme throughout the novel. In the book, readers also learn that Michael has secretly harbored feelings for Francesca since he first saw her but hesitates to act on them.

Having become the Earl of Kilmartin following John’s death, Michael heads to India as a way to avoid confronting his feelings for Francesca. As a result, Francesca becomes the handler of the Kilmartin estate.

Does Francesca remarry in the Bridgerton books?

In addition to grappling with John’s death, Francesca also mourns the loss of a child as she has a miscarriage following his untimely death.

Four years after John’s death, Michael returns to England. Around this same time, Francesca has decided that she wants to remarry so that she can have a child.

Eventually, Francesca and Michael grow closer together, going from friends to lovers. Though  Francesca is initially wary about moving on, she comes to the realization that John would want her to be happy. In the end, Michael proposes and he and Francesca get married.

In the books, they also welcome two children together, a son named John Stirling II after her late husband and a daughter named Janet Stirling II.

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How will Francesca’s love story play out in Bridgerton?

<p>Liam Daniel/Netflix</p> Ruth Gemmell as Lady Violet Bridgerton, Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton

Liam Daniel/Netflix

Ruth Gemmell as Lady Violet Bridgerton, Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton

It’s unclear how closely the Netflix series will follow the books, though they are certainly laying the groundwork for Francesca’s heartbreaking love story with the introduction of John in season 3.

Additionally, actress Hannah Dodd, who plays Francesca, teased John’s fate while speaking with Today.com about her character’s storyline foreshadowing what happens in When He Was Wicked.

“I’ve tried to kind of create that relationship with [Bridgerton matriarch] Violet just because there’s so many similarities going forward,” Dodd explained, referencing how Violet is also a window. “Everything that I kind of did to create Francesca comes from that book.”

Another thing that is unclear is which season will follow Francesca’s love story. As season 3 has already mixed up the order of the books with Colin and Penelope’s love story, fans are left to wonder if the introduction of John means that Francesca’s love story could take place as soon as season 4, which is already in the works.

Speaking with Variety, executive producer Shonda Rhimes noted that she has a “very specific plan” for each season. “Because you really have to start seeding in the other siblings, and what’s going on with them, to push them to the next season. We’ve really talked about it through, I think, season 6 or maybe 7.”

Seeing that Francesca and John were married for two years before his death (and Michael has yet to be introduced on screen), it’s entirely possible that Francesca’s love story won’t officially play out until season 5 or 6.

What's Francesca's relationship to Michael in Bridgerton?

<p>Liam Daniel/Netflix</p> Victor Alli as John Stirling and Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton.

Liam Daniel/Netflix

Victor Alli as John Stirling and Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton.

A significant twist was revealed in Francesca's love story in the season 3 finale of Bridgerton when a character named Michaela Sterling appeared on the screen. Played by Masali Baduza, Michaela is introduced as John's cousin at the Dankworth-Finch ball.

In comparison to When He Was Wicked, Netflix appears to gender swap Michael in Bridgerton. Showrunner Jess Brownell told Entertainment Weekly about the decision. "When I first read When He Was Wicked in the lead up to season 1, I really related to it as a queer woman," he explained.

"There's some themes in that book about Francesca feeling different. Julia Quinn just means it in terms of her being an introvert," Brownell continued. "But for a lot of us in the queer community, that sense of feeling different from a young age is a part of our stories. So, I felt like there was good thematic resonance telling a queer story with Francesca."

Alli shared with PEOPLE in June 2024 his thoughts on the introduction of the character. "Oh. I was like, ‘Yo, that's really cool.’ Because I was told that they're going to switch up a bit before we did any of that filming. And it was quite nice. It was really pleasant to sort of read that introduction," he said.

“It was such a nice introduction, I think,” he added. “I don't think they could have done it in any other way. So yeah, I'm really glad and I was really excited.”

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