This review is for an e-ARC copy I got at BEA with The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever.
The Premise: This is the book after The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever and focuses on Olivia Bevelstoke, Miranda's best friend. Olivia's friends have gossiped that her new neighbour, Sir Harry Valentine killed his fiance, which she doesn't believe, but it makes her curious so she begins to spy on him from her window. Meanwhile, Harry knows Olivia is watching. He works for the War Department as a Russian translator, and he spends a lot of time in his office pouring over things to translate. He figures he may as well give Olivia things to look at. Olivia thinks Harry is up to something because she sees him quickly burning papers and wearing odd hats, not knowing it's all for her benefit. Neither is happy with the other once Harry finally confronts Olivia about her nosiness, but fate keeps putting them together: the War Office asks Harry to keep an eye on a Russian prince who in turn has his eye on Olivia.
This was a really sweet romance without the extreme ups and downs in feeling that Olivia's friend, Miranda went through (My review of her story: LJ
). At first the hero and heroine don't really like each other, Harry is annoyed at her spying and she's annoyed at being caught, but they soon realize that they get alone pretty well and a friendship develops. When the they realize they love each other, it's very romantic and happy rather than a tortured thing (and I didn't feel sickened by the sweetness so for me the process felt just right). I quite enjoyed that both accepted
it, and Harry in particular was very straightforward in thought and in deed once he'd made that decision:
"I can't help it," he said, his words ticklish against her skin. She could hear his smile in his voice. He sounded happy.
She felt happy. And more.
"You were there," he said, one of his hands moving down her side, around her back. "You were there, and I had to kiss you, and that's all there was to it."
Of course the book has the same great dialogue I saw in The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever , and I am quickly becoming a fan of it. It wasn't very hard to enjoy the book when both characters were so likable as well. I thought that Olivia stays true to the character she had in The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, but we learn some new things about her like her enjoyment of the newspaper and the quirk of making lists in her mind, which seems to happen when she's particularly bored or trying to keep herself calm.
There are some really funny parts, like when the hero and heroine are both reading a gothic romance. The gothic romance is quite over the top (um.. death by pigeon?), and Olivia exclaims aloud at some of it (a situation I can relate to), but things get even more amusing when Sebastian, Harry's best friend, enthralls an audience with the book. Sebastian seems geared to be the next hero in a Quinn novel, and he should be an interesting one - he's got a very irreverent sense of humor and enjoys great popularity with the ladies.
I wonder if some of the younger men here will get their own books eventually. I'm thinking of Winston, who is Olivia's twin, and Edward, who is Harry's younger brother. I was especially interested in Edward, who had a maybe a slightly darker experience to their father's drunkenness than Harry and wanted to learn a bit more about him and his relationship with Harry. There were some references to resentment that Harry "left him" to join the military but that thread wasn't expounded enough for me.
Overall: A book with a great beta hero, excellent dialogue, some laugh out loud moments, and sweet romance. A keeper. It picked my spirits up after a bad day.
Other reviews (the general consensus is this is one of our favorite Quinn books and better than the last few, which I can't confirm or deny since I've only read two):
gave it a 9 (I agreed completely with their review!)