Following the release of Bridgerton‘s highly-anticipated third season, fans have been sounding off on a big change from the book– gender-swapping Michael Stirling, an upcoming love interest of core character Francesca Bridgerton (Hannah Dodd).

Amid discourse online about what to expect from Michaela Stirling (Masali Baduza) and a potential relationship between her and Francesca, Bridgerton author addressed the decision to take her story in a new direction.

“I trust Shondaland’s vision for Bridgerton, but I wanted to be sure that we could remain true to the spirit of the book and of the characters,” Quinn wrote in a message shared on her social media accounts. “Jess [Brand I talked for a long time about it. More than once. I made it clear that it was extremely important to me that Francesca’s abiding love for John be shown on screen. When I wrote When He Was Wicked, I actually had to fight to have the first four chapters, which establish that love, included. My publisher was worried that writing about Fran’s love for John would take away from Michael’s role as the eventual romance novel hero. But I felt that if I didn’t show how deeply she loved John, and how deeply Michael, his cousin, also loved him, then their feelings of guilt at falling in love with each other after John’s death made no sense. I didn’t want to just tell the reader that they loved him. I wanted the reader to feel it.”

She continued, ““I’m confident now that when Francesca has her Bridgerton season, it will be the most emotional and heart-wrenching story of the show, just like When He Was Wicked has always been the true tear-jerker of the Bridgerton book series. Honestly, it may pack even more of a punch, since John is getting a lot more time on the screen than he ever did on the page, and I think it’s fair to say we’ve all fallen a little bit in love with him.”

Bridgerton showrunner Jess Brownell has also defended the decision to make Michael Michaela in the series, telling TVLine that she “really related to Francesca’s story as a queer woman.” Though in the books, Francesca’s journey “isn’t intended to be a queer story — at least the way Julia Quinn wrote it, Francesca talks a lot in the book about feeling different and not quite knowing why at times.”

It’s unclear whether Season 4 of the Netflix series will focus on Francesca’s love story, but Brownell did tell TV Line that they plan to expedite her story.

“Her story is one that has more installments than some of the other book stories and so, we’re getting started on it a little more quickly,” she said.