The Secret Diaries of Miranda Cheever
Author: Julia Quinn
Published Date: July 2007
Letter Grade: A-
You know you are a devoted fangirl when, having spotted the newsletter from your favorite author that, without fail, arrives on the last Tuesday of June every year for the past four years, appears in your e-mail inbox, you know you are giving up all plans for an early night to bed, ignoring your exhaustion after a long day at work, and hunting down that book at Borders even if you have to overturn every godforsaken bookshelf in the place.
And so is how I spent this past Tuesday evening.
Well, all right. I didn't overturn all the bookshelves in the evil Borders that I unfortunately now live near. I did have to work uncommonly hard to find Ms. Quinn (because this borders, for some reason, does not differentiate between "romance" and "erotica" when naming its sections. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever actually seen
the erotica section labeled anywhere) and when I finally found her, I found all of her other lovely novels. But not this one.
I finally managed to track it down, as it was hiding in the most random of places (not unusual for this Borders) and because of this wonderful stroke of luck (and determination of a crazed fangirl) I am bringing to you my first JQ review.
I've been reading Julia Quinn novels for about five years now. My first, How to Marry a Marquis,
was one of the very first romance novels I ever read. I've read every book that she's written, and all but one novella (only because I have a weird aversion to Scotland as a setting. Which does not make much sense to me at all, so don't ask me to explain it.)
I caught up with her somewhere in the midst of her Bridgerton family series (brilliant, by the way) and while I am still hard pressed to admit that it was a sound idea for her to not write a book for Edmund and Violet Bridgerton, I have to concede that this novel was worthy of following after such a fabulous series.
But only grudgingly. Because, well, she's Julia Quinn. And the book was good.
Anyway. Miranda Cheever (thank God I liked this girl, otherwise every mention of her last name would have sent me into the same peels of laughter that "Karen Sue Hankey" tends to illicit) has pretty much been head over heals for Turner (real name Nigel, "Turner" referring to his title- Viscount Turner), her best friend's older brother, since she was 10 years old. Somewhere between 10 and 19, he got married to the odious, heart-stomping-upon, witch of a woman, Leticia, and was blissfully (not to be insensitive, but the woman was a real bitch) widowed at the beginning of our tale.
Actually, the first chapter opens with her funeral, and Turner's ruminations on all the good things about him that his late wife mercilessly squashed. Repeatedly. Heros with unfaithful dead first wives tend to like to use the word "cuckold" an awful lot, I've noticed. This goes for heros of many authors. Well, by "awful lot" I mean more than once or twice. It's not as though they're the only ones who ever use it.
Anyway. Miranda and Olivia, aforementioned best friend, end up in London after the required mourning period (for Olivia, anyway. For Turner it's supposed to be a year. You can imagine how readily he tossed aside that notion) for their first season.
I love reading about the marriage mart. Don't ask me why. London in the 19th century, especially the nobility residing in London at the time, interests me more than I can understand.
I was a little annoyed with the way all the men at those balls and such ignored Miranda (or, well, you know, not quite ignored) in favor of Olivia. Why is it that there is such an insistance in romances for the heroine to be only attractive to the hero? It's hardly ever as often true in the reverse, where the hero is only attractive to the heroine. Honestly. I can't tell you how often I read the words "she wasn't classically beautiful." Once in awhile I'd like to read about a heroine who actually was. The heroines always seem to be the ones who are allowed physical "flaws." (I use that term extremely
lightly.) A heroine can be fat, or at least be plumper than normal, she can be half-blind and need to wear spectacles constantly, she can have big feet, or a long face, or unfashionable hair ("unfashionable" would, by the way, describe the majority, since "unfashionable" brown hair tends to be a dominant trait. Unless the nobility happens to have a bit of Viking blood in them or something from their raping and pillaging days). The hero on the other hand, never seems to have any of these things.
I realize these books are geared towards women. But after roughly 200+ romance novels, it gets a little old.
Sorry. Ill-timed rant.
Anyyway. I read this book in a little over a day. Quinn needs to start writing longer books, not that I think it'd help very much. 373 pages might take a while for a mediocre book. But a Quinn? No chance in hell. I had to stop last night within the last 50 pages and couldn't stand to put the rest off till my lunch hour, so I read it on the way to work, diminishing the page count to around 20.
All right, there were things that annoyed me. Turner got on my nerves sometimes, but the rest of the time, mostly I wanted to hug him, and, well, other things. Damn his fictionality.
I did have to raise an eyebrow at the timing of it all though. Roughly four months after becoming a widower? Not that I think any sort of mourning period should have been observed, but I'm reasonably familiar enough with the thought process of the period that even I find that a little scandalous.
I'm not complaining, naturally. I like
Anyway. The point of the matter is- I adored this book, as I do Julia Quinn books. She made me very happy with the mention of Alex, the hero of her first novel Splendid.
Though, I would not have been at all disagreeable to the mention of my favorite person in the whole wide world of romance (that's saying something, she has to compete with the likes of Derek Craven
and Peter Quick
, formidable competition indeed), Lady Danbury. I haven't seen her in two whole books, I miss the old biddy.
Apparently this book was written in 1994, and Quinn has only now had a proper opportunity to publish it. Thank God. Or thank Avon. Or thank both.
Hmm. And it should be noted: Although there was no mention of Lady D, no Julia Quinn novel would be complete without an important mention: the dedication to Paul, her husband, which always either amuses me or makes me go "awww," every bloody time. (I was amused this time, in case you'd wondered.)