Monday, February 6, 2017

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever - Julia Quinn (Bevelstoke #1)

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever (Bevelstoke, #1)As I've mentioned a few times already, I'm doing a reading challenge for the Unapologetic Romance Readers in 2017 (info here).  One of the categories for it is a "Friends to lovers" romance.  After perusing some lists, I shifted around my planned books to fit this one in.  (I like to only use an author once for a challenge, and it meant shifting out another Quinn book due out this year, but I swapped that with a Courtney Milan title, so.)  This does fit the "friends to lovers" trope, I suppose, but it's short, so it still moves relatively fast.

When Miranda Cheever is ten, she's escorted home from her best friend's birthday partner by said friend's older brother, Nigel, who goes by his title, Turner.  Having been called ugly at the party, Miranda's feeling a bit down, and Turner cheers her up, and suggests that she just needs to grow into herself--and maybe that she should start a journal, so that when she's grown she can look back on it all and laugh.  So she does.  Nine years later, Miranda's debut season is being sponsored by the friend's (whose name is Olivia) mother, and Turner is a recent widower following the death of his wife, who was by all accounts a terrible person.  Turner is in no mood to marry again, or really have a relationship of any variety, and although Miranda has been in love with him since she was ten, she does try to keep a friendly distance between them.  For the most part, she succeeds.

This is a book that could have benefited greatly from being longer.  Quinn's books follow somewhat for a formula: the characters tend to hook up by the 50% mark, and then the rest of the book is spent with the big conflict that might keep them apart.  There's obviously a building tension between Miranda and Turner in the first half of the book, where they cautiously dance around each other and try to keep distance even though Miranda desperately wants Turner and he finds himself attracted to her, as well.  But honestly, I would have loved to see this strung out for a bit longer.  I know that's not the way that Quinn's books go, but I really would have liked to see that formula shifted a bit here in order to accommodate the slower build of the relationship rather than the insta-love that's typically prevalent in her books.  (Though she manages to do even that well, for the most part.)

Other than that, this was a very enjoyable book.  Quinn does banter in a fabulous manner, as she always does, and after the characters get together, there are consequences.  And while normally I think that most of Quinn's plots could be resolved by shaking the characters violently while screaming, "JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER," in this particular instance I found the conflict reasonable.  Turner wants to do right by Miranda but he also completely does not feel ready for a new relationship, let alone a marriage.  And I totally understand his desire to just avoid the problem on both Miranda and Turner's sides, because that's probably exactly what I would want to do.

Aside from the length, the other issue I had with this was the end and how Turner comes to finally acknowledge his feelings for Miranda.  It was very overdone, and Quinn is such an experienced writer that I know she could have done better than this.  I think going this particular route was a real cop-out for her, and it was a somewhat disappointing way to see the book end.  Still, I'm glad I finally picked up this series, which I somehow missed until this point.

3.5 stars out of 5.

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