Sir Richard Kenworthy has less than a month to find a bride, and secure her hand in marriage. She can’t really be an heiress or a diamond of the first water, because it’s really quite imperative that she accept his proposal, no matter what. When he spots Miss Iris Smythe-Smith suffering behind her cello at her family’s infamous annual musicale, he is intrigued. Very blond and pale-skinned, she should be unremarkable, but she’s clearly good at playing her instrument, which can’t be said for her other female relatives. He forces his friend Winston Bevelstoke to introduce him and becomes quite smitten, which wasn’t really part of the plan.
Iris is surprised and not a little suspicious when Sir Richard seems so very taken with her. She’s used to being overlooked and underestimated and spends most of her time out in society quietly observing others, quite content to rest among the chaperones and the wallflowers. Sir Richard flirts with her, he calls with flowers and insists on taking her for walks. He gives every impression of falling for her, but Iris can’t help but wonder why his courtship seems so rushed. When he proposes after only a week’s acquaintance, and compromises her with a kiss shortly after, she doesn’t really have a choice but to accept him, but it’s clear that he is hiding something and she’s worried about discovering what it is.
Richard feels deeply guilty about forcing Iris into marriage, especially as after only a week, he has discovered that she is a much better wife than he could ever have dreamed of snaring with his whirlwind courtship. She’s witty, clever, caring and loyal and clearly very forbearing of her family member’s flaws and foibles, something he desperately hopes will mean that she might eventually forgive him, once she discovers the secrets that forced his hand in marrying her.
This is the fourth and final book in the Smythe-Smith quartet. It’s by no means required that you’ve read any of the other books, although several previous Julia Quinn characters pop up for cameos or are mentioned, and your enjoyment might be increased if you know more about the extended romance universe in which Quinn sets her books.
Full review here.