Reviewed by Sarah Brew
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.
Julia Quinn is one of my favourite authors of Regency romances. Somehow, she manages to avoid the pitfalls to which some others are prone, of just falling a smidgin short of complete historical integrity. I have thoroughly enjoyed the Smythe-Smith Quartet, with its background of musicales and the poor girls forced to play until they can land themselves a husband and pass the dreaded baton onto the younger girls of the family.
Sir Richard Kenworthy must find a bride – quickly. He hasn’t got time to be choosy but when he sees Iris Smythe-Smith reluctantly taking part in one of her family’s infamous musicales, his choice is made. It’s never that easy though, and Iris is suspicious – why should Sir Richard take notice of one who is quiet? She can’t believe he really wants to marry her and her suspicions increase when she finds herself in a compromising position that forces the issue.
Of course, there is a background story in Sir Richard’s life and it is only when Iris can get to the bottom of this that they can look to the future together, but the book does feel somewhat unconvincing in its latter stages. Iris is a wonderful heroine – I really felt for her but I must confess I found myself getting frustrated with Sir Richard and his sisters, who manipulate poor Iris. It is a feature of many Regency novels that one or both of the characters have a story in their past which affects their present and future but somehow, it was less easy to sympathise with Richard.
It’s an easy read, with plenty of touches of humour, especially in the first part and with enough references back to familiar characters to please avid readers of the series. As ever, the dialogue is quick and witty, reflecting the characters well. A thoroughly enjoyable read but falls a little short of its predecessors in the series.
I'd like to thank Clara at Little Brown for sending us this book and Sarah for reviewing it.