29 January 2015

The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn

Hello everyone,

Julia Quinn was the first romance author I ever read and since then she has been an auto-buy for me. I own all her published books and have re-read them multiple times; for this reason I had to review her new book The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy.

The book:

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. And 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.

My thoughts:

This is a hard review for me to write, partly because I don't want to say what I feel I should say. Okay I'll just get it over with by saying it up front, this book was alright. It was a light-hearted regency romp, but until about the half-way mark I honestly didn't care what happened to the two main-characters. Therefore for me this was a book in two parts. The London period and the Yorkshire period; because of this reason I'm going to talk about them separately.

During the London period our hero is on a mission to find a wife, and after watching Iris perform in the annual Smythe-Smith musical he is determined it will be her. To be honest at this point in the novel although Richard was all-consumed by his need to find a wife, due to some big secret that was happening by in Yorkshire, while I was reading it I didn't really care. I was more interested in his interactions with Iris than some far-flung secret that was motivating his actions. I felt that during this point Irish and Richard's interactions were fairly superficial, they had fun together and made each other laugh but they didn't really know each other.

In my mind the whole London section of this book was a prologue to the real story. This was the getting to know the characters period, learn the back-storying and although I agree this is important I don't need it be 50% of the book. Especially not a book written by Julia Quinn. Normally when I read her books I'm immeditately invested in the characters and their respective stories but this time I was just left numb. For me personally I'm at the point where the Smythe-Smiths and the jokes surrounding them have grown stale. We know the're bad at music, we know the whole family is a little ridiculous. I don't need another 200 pages demonstrating this fact. I would much rather have spent time with the hero and heroine without the 'humourous' backdrop and drama that is the Smythe-Smith family.

All wasn't lost, however, as once the couple began their journey to Yorkshire I suddenly became  engaged with the story. To me it felt like the focus of the novel shifted from being about the Smythe-Smith family to being about Iris and Richard's relationship. I started to connect with Iris and I felt her pain over Richard's frankly odd actions. He blew hot then cold then hot then cold so many times I lost count. One of my favourite sections of the book was Richard's and Iris 'honeymoon' as it allowed them to just be together as a couple without outside distractions.

As the title of the book would suggest, however, the story does revolve around Richard's secret and they were certainly the largest obstacle in this blossoming romance. Yet for me it worked while they were in Yorkshire because the context was there. These secrets were actually affecting Iris and were no longer just confined to Richard's thoughts. I'll be honest I did feel like the secret was made into something much bigger than it actually was and Richard's intitial 'solution' was completely crazy. I liked how Iris challenged him on his idea and wouldn't just accept it. She stood up for herself, but at the same time understood what was at stake and acted accordingly. Similarly she understood why Richard had acted as he had and therefore could forgive him.

By the end of this book I really liked Richard and Iris as a couple, partly because together they were able to rise above the secrets as a couple as adults. Overall then I felt meh about the first half of this book and really enjoyed the second half so this was probably a 3.5 star book for me. I wish it could be more and hope that Julia Quinn's next series breaks away from the Bridgerton/Smythe-Smith world because I personally am ready for something new.

My rating:
Happy reading everyone and see you next time!