Tag Archives: Smythe-Smith

The Smyth-Smith Quartet: The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn

 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:

  1. Julia Quinn is an excellent gateway author for people who want to try Regency romance.
  2. The writing is light and fun. Deft is the word I always come back to.
  3. Since her Bridgerton series, her quality has fallen off a bit.
  4. The Bridgerton series is really strong though. It has one or two classics.
  5. 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.
  6. I no longer pay for her books, preferring to read them on loan. Thank you, Malin.
  7. Not-quite-what-she-once-was-Quinn, is still better than most, and, again, witty and fun.
  8. Quinn is a skilled story-teller and very good at describing the feelings of falling in love.
  9. When the plot moves into more heavy sledding, things tend to fall apart a bit.
  10. 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.

The Smyth-Smith Quartet: The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn

I regret returning The Sum of All Kisses to the library quickly, but I don’t want to buy my own copy. This tells me that while I enjoyed the book, it didn’t make a lasting impression

If you are a historical romance fan, you already know who Julia Quinn is. If you are interested in trying historical romance, her Bridgerton series provides an excellent gateway. I use the words deft and witty every time I review one of her books because they are always apropos and Quinn is almost always a light-hearted, satisfying read. She is guaranteed to make you laugh and offer at least one truly romantic moment.

Quinn’s current Regency series revolves around a family group that puts on an annual concert of consistently awful quality. The Smythe-Smith quartet, as they are called, has an evolving membership and over the course of the novels, members get married off and make good their escape from public humiliation. This time up, it’s Sarah Pleinsworth and family acquaintance Hugh Prentice. He caused a scandal several years ago by dueling with her cousin and Sarah feels the resulting imbroglio ruined her matrimonial opportunities. She hates him. He finds her melodramatic. Forced to spend time together at house parties for their friends’ weddings, no one is surprised when they end up engaged in under three weeks.

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