I first read this book back in 2007, not long after it was published. Lately, I found myself feeling like giving it a reread. I had good memories of it as a light, fun book and after The Eye of Night – an excellent book but one that took a bit of work – that’s exactly what I was wanting.
Miranda Cheever has been in love with her best friend Olivia’s older brother, Turner, since she was ten. Now, at almost twenty, she and Olivia are off to London for their first season, Turner is a bitter widower since his cheating wife died in a riding accident while going to meet her lover, and really, the scene is perfectly set for romance.
I’ve just reread by original review of The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, and I find that my reaction this time was pretty much the same. I’ve given the book the same grade and enjoyed Quinn’s sparkling romance without needing to take it too seriously.
Miranda is a most engaging heroine, not exactly pretty but striking, the quiet one who stands beside her conventionally beautiful friend who has all the admirers, and watches. She steadies Olivia’s more thoughtless nature and for that her friendship is especially welcomed by Olivia’s rich and titled family. But, as Miranda points out firmly at one point:
“Don’t confuse levelheaded with meek, Turner. They’re not the same thing at all. And I am certainly not meek.”
Miranda is a strong and steadfast heroine, but not a fiery one. And this makes her all the more appealing. She has been in love with Turner for a long time, and if she still sometimes tries to tell herself it is only a schoolgirl infatuation – usually when Turner is being particularly annoying – she knows that isn’t the case. She loves him, and he doesn’t see her as anything beyond his little sister’s little friend.
Of course, this is a romance novel, and as the book progresses and Turner and Miranda find themselves spending more time together, he does indeed begin to notice her. They make mistakes, Turner does some dumb things, but they are married before the book’s end and in love by the last pages, winning a deserved happy ending.
Neither is ever too stupid, which is a relief as that can be particularly annoying. As Miranda says at one point. “I’m not an idiot” and indeed, she is never an idiot. Turner comes closer, but it is in character and appropriate within the set up of the story line. It takes him a long time to realise and accept that he does indeed love Miranda, but after his experience with his wife, it is understandable and it works. Turner might be bitter, but it never makes him mean; he thinks he’s lost all kindness but at bottom he’s a man with a good heart and that fact remains, which makes him much easier to like than some “heroes” in romance, who have less reason to be bitter and angry than he does.
All in all, this was exactly the book I wanted to read. It’s light, it’s fun and the characters are nice people to hang out with for a while.
I never found Olivia a particularly intriguing character, but her showdown with Turner over Miranda is wonderful and I think it is more that the book doesn’t focus on her than anything else. Julia Quinn’s next book is Olivia’s story and while I was a bit lukewarm about reading it, having just reread The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever I find myself much more inclined to find out what happens to Olivia.
The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever