A new release, The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy is the fourth book in Julia Quinn’s Smythe-Smith Regency romance series. I feel like all of my reviews of her recent novels are repetitive, to wit:
- Julia Quinn is an excellent gateway author for people who want to try Regency romance.
- The writing is light and fun. Deft is the word I always come back to.
- Since her Bridgerton series, her quality has fallen off a bit.
- The Bridgerton series is really strong though. It has one or two classics.
- There is an overlap and interplay between Quinn’s books and I enjoy the guest stars and recognizing that events are being replayed from another perspective.
- I no longer pay for her books, preferring to read them on loan. Thank you, Malin.
- Not-quite-what-she-once-was-Quinn, is still better than most, and, again, witty and fun.
- Quinn is a skilled story-teller and very good at describing the feelings of falling in love.
- When the plot moves into more heavy sledding, things tend to fall apart a bit.
- All of the above apply to The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy.
Sooner rather than later, Richard Kenworthy is in need of a wife. For reasons of his own, he has a two-week timeline to find and marry pretty much any halfway suitable candidate he can find. A dowry would have been nice, but he has other considerations. The reader does not know what these are and such is the sense of portent, I was genuinely curious as to what on earth could have Richard so desperate to marry and then keep him from a full relationship his new wife.
Iris is the cellist in the current iteration of the Smythe-Smith quartet. Introduced in the Bridgerton series, these “musicale” evenings are the stuff of legend in their social circle. Each unmarried and of-age young woman in the family must participate in the humiliation. Iris, like most of her fellow embarrass-ees, is painfully aware that their musicianship is sadly lacking, despite the fact that she actually plays her instrument well, if unenthusiastically. She’s a clever, observant woman and unsure of Richard’s motivations, but her own incipient feelings for him lead her to accept his rushed proposal and intentional, if almost chaste, ruination to guarantee the nuptials.
Away Richard and Iris go to start their lives together in deepest, darkest Yorkshire. Tremendously drawn to one another, their marital relationship goes through fits and starts with Quinn’s usual aplomb until the reason for Richard’s haste to wed arrives in the form of his sister, Fleur. It was at this point that what had been a bit, “Oh, get on with it” took a turn for the overwrought. Not to spoil anything, the family is in crisis and Iris is Richard’s solution, although he is the only one who thinks he has the right remedy for their problems. Iris solves the puzzle and saves the day so she and Richard, who, wisely begs for forgiveness, can really begin their lives together.
I quite liked the book that preceded this one, The Sum of All Kisses. A summary of Julia Quinn’s catalogue can be found here. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.