I’ve decided to revisit some romances lately, and I’m going for the ones I haven’t re-read (or re-read often) as opposed to the ones like the Bridgerton novels that I’ve read many times over. So I started with the first post-Bridgerton Quinn book — and I remembered why I hadn’t re-read it.
It’s not that there’s anything egregiously wrong with this book. It’s just that there’s not too much right with it, either. And I think one of the biggest problems is related to a very lackluster plot. Not much happens throughout the course of the entire book.
We meet Miranda when she’s all of eleven years old, at her best friend Olivia’s birthday party; when one of the other little girls makes fun of Miranda for being plain-looking, Olivia’s older brother Turner escorts her home and makes her feel better by promising that she will grow into herself. Miranda clings to those words as she grows up, and throughout her teenage years, remains in love with Turner. Turner, on the other hand, has gotten married in the meantime, and we tune back into him at his wife’s funeral. It’s not a cause for grief, though, as all we ever learn about Leticia is that she was a horrible woman who trapped Turner into marriage while she was pregnant with someone else’s baby, and she basically cuckolded him for years and he was too honourable to toss her out on her ear. He’s bitter and resentful and never wants anything to do with women ever again. But, he ends up in London to help his sister Olivia out with her debut, he and Miranda collide, and… events transpire, I guess?
The biggest plot point — which I won’t give away — happens only about halfway through the book, and I think that’s a big problem with it — everything after that moves so slowly, without any real incidents. It’s all thinking and talking and not-talking and thinking some more. And it gets dull. In classic fashion, Turner is having trouble coming to grips with being in love unexpectedly, and even when it’s clearly paining Miranda that he won’t do right by her, he basically behaves like a total spaz rather than stepping up to the plate emotionally.
As a character, Miranda is pretty likeable, even if it does get a little painfully pathetic watching her wait around for Turner to admit he loves her. It’s also hard to believe her when she says that she’s stopped loving him in the puppy-crush fashion, that it’s evolved into something more real, because we never really see that turn. We’re just told about it. Turner, on the other hand, is not always that likeable. His “teasing” of Miranda can edge a little too close to mean sometimes, and while I could buy it initially as part of the bitterness from his first wife’s behavior, he never gets called out on it and he never reforms. He’s also pretty domineering, and not in a way I find attractive, just in a sort of blunt way. He’s a pretty under-developed character, and what is developed about him isn’t that appealing.
The side cast falls down a little bit here, too. Olivia (who I do remember liking better in her own book) attempts to set Miranda up with the other Bevelstoke brother, Winston (who happens to be Olivia’s twin). I suspect it’s meant to be charming and endearing, but mostly I find it obnoxious. Some of her dialogue is pretty good, though — but the famous Quinn sparkle just isn’t quite there.
Overall, The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever is lackluster, particularly compared to the better Quinn novels, and unless you’re a stickler for reading everything an author has out there, it could easily be skipped.