If you were a quiet, overlooked observer of a female…what would you do if a handsome man demanded an introduction out of the blue? Julia Quinn’s latest historical romance is an absolute treat. At 385 pages, the author does not skimp on details and the book is very well composed. The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy is the fourth book in Quinn’s Smythe-Smith Quartet series, and since I jumped in at book four I will definitely be reading the previous three books. This is less of a story about a girl hunting for a groom, but the opposite, and he has reached a desperate point where yes is the only answer he can accept. The hunt is on, and the gentleman is searching in the locations where he will most likely find a bride meeting his very specific requirements.
When Sir Richard Kenworthy sees wallflower Iris Smythe-Smith performing at her family’s annual musicale, he thinks that he may have found the perfect solution. Iris is not a diamond of the first water, but she is pretty and has her own redeeming qualities, including her sense of humor and intelligence. Richard thinks that he can come to grips with taking her as his bride (there are definitely positives here), but his major obstacle is getting her to agree to the wedding. After an extremely short courtship, Richard manages to orchestrate a compromising position that leaves both of them with no choice but marriage.
Iris agrees to a fast marriage despite suspicions about Richard’s true motives. While she knows that he forced the compromising position and pushed for a quick marriage, she trusts her gut instinct and feels that they can make a good marriage together. Once they are married, Iris seems to keep following the rabbit hole of marriage alone with no salvation in sight. Can she truly survive this marriage, or will she break? What happened to the gentleman she was coming to know, and what will happen to her in the end? What exactly is Sir Richard Kenworthy hiding?
I loved the story behind this book, because Quinn presents a little something different and a fresh perspective on the marriage hunting story that is so familiar in the historical romance genre. I love marriage stories as much as the next reader, but throwing down a real challenge (lying in a relationship) for the characters to overcome that can be related to our modern times and relationships adds something extra to the overall impact of the tale. While less violent than some of the more action-packed historical romances that I typically read, this book was full of emotion and intrigue. I read the book from cover to cover in two days because I needed sleep, but I definitely give it two pinkie toes way up!
P.S. – This book landed on both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. Check out an interesting USA Today article and excerpt of the book here.