Monday, March 2, 2015

Julia Quinn - The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy

Sir Richard Kenworthy has less than a month to find a bride. He knows he can't be too picky, but when he sees Iris Smythe-Smith hiding behind her cello at her family's infamous musicale, he thinks he might have struck gold. She's the type of girl you don't notice until the second—or third—look, but there's something about her, something simmering under the surface, and he knows she's the one.
Iris Smythe–Smith is used to being underestimated. With her pale hair and quiet, sly wit she tends to blend into the background, and she likes it that way. So when Richard Kenworthy demands an introduction, she is suspicious. He flirts, he charms, he gives every impression of a man falling in love, but she can't quite believe it's all true. When his proposal of marriage turns into a compromising position that forces the issue, she can't help thinking that he's hiding something . . . even as her heart tells her to say yes.

Comment: Since I'm a fan of the author and have been enjoying the books in this Smythe-Smith quartet, it was no wonder I was so happy that this book finally arrived and I could read it. This is the last of the series but I'm very curious to see what comes next from the author.

This is Iris' story. Of all the Smythe-Smith music players that famously appear on the author's books, Iris is one of the few that actually knows how to play and is fully aware of the tragedy that each musicale really is. Iris is also used to not be the most sought after woman because she is pale and fair and others don't notice her that much. She doesn't really mind so when a man she doesn't know stares at her on the latest musicale she isn't prepared to react when he is introduced to her.
Richard Kenworthy need a wife as quickly as possible. He has a secret problem and only a wife can help him solve it. He didn't count on Iris being more than she looked like and more than someone to be with him through life, she ends up being someone he falls in love with, someone he respects and trusts and deceiving her isn't as easy as he first desperately thought...

With this book, the latest quartet series by ms Quinn comes to an end. The series, so far, have fallen into a certain pattern of average plots and characters. I can't say this is amazing and recently many readers have said her work has lost some of its truest appeal which was the specific connection between characters and voice, something that seemed perfect in some of her best loved stories on the Bridgerton series. In this new series, plots seemed to be weaker and more simplistic, which, although not a bad thing on its own, surely contributed to the general opinion that ms Quinn lost that special thing about her writing.

Now, I wonder, is this a sign her work has become predictable and not as good? Honestly, I can understand if some readers think so, but personally I still see the enjoyment and allure of her books. Her work might not be the most serious out there but it doe offer a reasonable amount of drama/angst that stops it from being silly or pointless. There's still an aura of aim, of a goal to achieve, of interest to be savored. Yes, there seems to be lacking some intensity but I can't say I didn't enjoy reading.
I'm saying these things to make it clear that, while I see why so many others start to loose faith in her stories, I can still like them, still see the appeal and still be interested, despite the unwitting comparison to her better things.

A for the plot of this book, it certainly offers a weird dilemma. I think Richard's secret is serious and I totally get his fear and desire to solve things. He is a wonderful man who only wants the best those he cares about. I can even accept the idea that desperate thought call for desperate (and silly) solutions in the heat of the moment, but when we get to know the reason for all the plot's secrets, everything seems overly dramatic and easily solved.
Of course one has to bear in mind the fact this is an historical and even for authors not so serious about their historical approaches as ms Quinn, some things are easier to work with in an historical setting rather than a contemporary. Nevertheless, in the end I think the solution was so simple, was so obvious and true communication was the key to solve it. Then, we wouldn't have a funny and interesting plot to present, but still.

I think Richard and Iris are interesting characters. Neither has a so called alpha personality and that was good to see, Richard is a man who has the family's control but he isn't all powerful and all mastering and it was different to see him act without being a alpha type while having serious things to deal with.
Iris isn't pushy, an in-your-face character but neither is she a shy TSTL creature. I think if there was one thing that really worked out well was the slow development of their relationship based on their characters. If one thinks about this as a possible reality, then many elements are troublesome but in terms of romance, it was funny and cute how things progressed between them. I liked that part a lot.

The plot reaches a solution at last and everyone got a deserved HEA. Throughout the book, many scenes and details were interestingly inserted by the author but yes, some flaws are obvious.
Despite everything I had fun reading and I confess I was eager to keep read when I had to stop. I think that, even if a book isn't perfect, if it works for us at that time, if we do feel like reading and not stop, then it has to be a success, no matter what others think, right?
Oh and isn't the UK cover gorgeous?
Grade: 7/10

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