Cris Reads | The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn

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.

I'm an enormous fan of Julia Quinn and have read almost every book she has written. I'm also a big fan of The Smythe-Smith Quartet series and have loved getting to know the family with it's quirky cast of characters. I was immediately pulled in by Iris and Richard's story. I'm a big fan of wallflower novels and Iris, with her botanically-inclined name, was most certainly a wallflower. Being the pale, quiet, watchful member of an infamous quartet has not gained her many suitors. And when the secretive Richard swoops into her life and singles her out for his attentions, courting her and pursuing her as no man has before, she is more than a bit distrustful. When Richard proposes after just a week and the two are caught in a compromising position, Iris becomes a bit suspicious of his motives.

As a reader, I was really enjoying the story until Iris and Richard married and left for his estate. From the very beginning we know that Richard needs a wife—someone free from scandal. Although his choice of Iris is driven by mysterious circumstances, we see that he does develop genuine affection and desire for her before marrying her. This made me hopeful that their day-to-day married life would help enrich those feelings. But once they are married Richard seems to spend most of his time scheming to make his wife fall in love with him, to endear her to him and then reject her without any explanation when he succeeded in awakening her desires. I felt frustrated and hurt by the mind games Richard played which only worsened when the "big secret" was revealed.

When we learned that Richard's teenage sister is pregnant and Richard planed to pass the baby off as Iris' without consulting her, I saw red. Not only was I angry that Richard had lied and schemed to manipulate Iris into marriage, but he didn't seem to value her in the least. He didn't care for her opinion nor her feelings, though he did desire her. Richard's behavior left me feeling hurt and betrayed and I honestly had to step away from the book for a day to calm myself down a bit. Maybe I'm more of a grudge-holder than Iris but I don't think I would have been able to forgive the heartbreak that Richard caused, certainly not with the ease and speed that Iris seemed to.

Julia Quinn is always amazing at nurturing quirky, interesting characters you can't help but fall in love with but The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy just didn't pull me in as much as some of her other novels. I wish there had just been a bit more development of the romance and the secondary characters. I would have liked to see some sweet moments between Fleur and her lover to better understand her character. She and her sister just came off as petulant and oblivious and I would have liked to see some of their redeeming qualities.

That said, I'm still an enormous fan of Julia Quinn and I really enjoyed learning more about the members of The Smythe-Smith Quartet. This might not be my favorite of her novels, but I think if you love experiencing the push-and-pull of a relationship this novel would be perfect for you. Though I might have been upset by some of the things the novel made me feel—heartbreak, betrayal—the writing made me feel genuine, palpable emotions, which is always a good thing. I'm excited to read the next book in the series and see how Daisy's character will grow and change. Maybe we'll even get some happier moments with Iris and Richard.

Disclaimer: As an Avon Addict, I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions shared are my own.



JULIA QUINN started writing her first book one month after finishing college and has been tapping away at her keyboard ever since. The New York Times bestselling author of twenty-four novels for Avon Books, she is a graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and is one of only fifteen authors ever to be inducted in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.

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