Series: Smythe-Smith #4
Published by Avon on January 27th 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Source: gift, purchased
Also by this author: Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, Because of Miss Bridgerton
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.
Sir Richard Kenworthy is in need of a wife – and not for any of the ordinary reasons. No, Sir Richard’s need is quite unusual – and rather urgent. Unluckily (or perhaps luckily?) for her, his eye falls upon Iris Smythe-Smith.
Julia Quinn is known for blending humor and real feeling in her books. In The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy, she leans more toward emotional depth, though her usual witty dialog and flashes of humor still appear. Sir Richard’s worry, guilt, and dread over Iris’s eventual reaction ring very true. Iris’s growing hurt and bewilderment over her husband’s inconsistent behavior made my heart ache in sympathy. But at the same time, there are some delighfully funny moments, particularly a performance of a play written by Iris’s cousin Harriet and featuring her indomitable younger cousin Frances as (what else?) a unicorn. (Fans of the series already know of Frances’s obsession with the mythical creatures.) I chuckled through the whole scene. And of course, the annual Smythe-Smith musicale is always entertaining to read about – though perhaps less so to attend! There’s also a ferocious confrontation between Iris and one of Richard’s sisters that had me laughing out loud. But on the whole, the couple’s sometimes fraught relationship dominates the novel.
Which is fine, because despite Richard’s actions, I liked and sympathized with both him and Iris. Richard really is a good man (if a bit too determined for his own good), and Iris is a caring, intelligent young woman with a bit more of a temper than she thinks she has — and a deep sense of family love and loyalty. Both of them want their marriage to work, and their growing feelings for each other alleviated some of the tension for me as I read, while still leaving me anxious to find out what was going on and what would happen next. I’m trying very hard not to give anything away, but let me just hint that Richard’s motives are understandable and his intentions good — which just makes the whole thing more of a tangled mess. It’s a good thing I trust Quinn to bring everything to a satisfying close. Even so, The Secrets of Richard Kenworthy kept me turning the pages long into the night.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2015 Historical Romance Reading Challenge