Saturday, February 14, 2015

Book review: The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy, by Julia Quinn

Sir Richard Kenworthy has some big secrets – does he ever. For his own private reasons, he travels south from Yorkshire to London to convince some eligible young lady to wed him at short notice. Quinn’s impressive romance, set in the post-Regency era, details the unusual courtship of Richard and Miss Iris Smythe-Smith both before and after his motives are revealed.

The fourth of five daughters, Iris is a sensible woman who doesn’t attract attention, so she’s puzzled but quietly pleased when Richard asks to call on her. He’s handsome and kind, but what’s the hurry to get married? When he deliberately steals a kiss from her in sight of her aunt, he forces her hand – and when Iris learns his true purpose, her anger is justified.

While the premise feels a bit over-the-top, this novel is rooted in the conventions of its time, when one careless decision could mean social ruin. Both gentle yet witty, Richard and Iris are a well-matched pair. Quinn also accomplishes the near-impossible by redeeming Richard’s character in the eyes of Iris and the reader and by crafting a believable reconciliation.

There are some lovely descriptions of the Yorkshire countryside, and fans of the series (this is book #4) can look forward to more terrible music from the Smythe-Smith string quartet.

Here's a special feature for Valentine's Day: my first review of a historical romance here.  If you've read this novel, what did you think?  According to other reviews I've read, Richard is one of Quinn's more controversial heroes; you'll have to read the novel to see exactly why.

I wrote this review for February's Historical Novels Review; thanks to the publisher for granting me access via Edelweiss.  The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy was published by Avon in 2015 (384pp, $7.99 / $9.99 Can).  The UK publisher is Piatkus (£8.99).  It was named to the LibraryReads list for February.

4 comments:

  1. I love it when a writer is able to first make me think a character is a rat, then turns that impression on its ear. I don't often read romances, but this one sounds fun.

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    1. I don't often read romances either, but this one appealed to me not only because of the skillful storytelling but because for me, there has to be something else going on in a romance besides the love story. I don't want to read 300 pages about a couple's romantic yearnings and sex scenes, and I don't need to see a lot of mental lusting in the very first chapter, either. Novels like that don't feel well-balanced or realistic. Fortunately this novel wasn't like that!

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  2. This looks like another for my wish list. I've not read any books by Julia Quinn. Is this a stand alone novel or do you recommend I read the previous three in the series first?

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    1. This was the first Julia Quinn novel I've read, and I didn't have any trouble. It is part of a series, but she gets readers up to speed quickly, especially regarding the Smythe-Smith string quartet, which is a fun in-joke for her readers.

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