“The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever” by Julia Quinn (historical romance): I’m a bit late with this one – it came out ages ago but I somehow never managed to pick it up. Anyway, it’s Ms Quinn’s first standalone historical for ages – i.e. not Bridgerton-related! Miranda Cheever has been hopelessly in love with her best friend’s elder brother forever. He, on the other hand, has just been widowed and is completely disillusioned with the idea of love, due to the unfaithfulness of his late wife.
This book reminded me just why I like Julia Quinn – no other author comes close to the way she writes dialogue. The scenes between Turner and Miranda were wonderfully humorous and I just loved the wry snippets from Miranda’s diary.
But I’ll be honest, I couldn’t figure out why Miranda was in love with Turner. I completely understand the schoolgirl crush (I mean, which girl wouldn’t?), but why and how it turned into proper love – well, Ms Quinn didn’t quite sell me on that. And the conflict in the last third of the book – again nope, not really. But a B- all the same, because her writing makes me smile.
And oh, did I think of the Bridgertons when I was reading this? Err… yes. Did that detract from my enjoyment? I don’t think so. I think her voice comes through no matter what she’s writing, which is why some of the scenes, especially the family ones, reminded me of the Bridgerton books.
Also, slight spoilers:
I don’t have the book with me, so I can’t check, but the last third of the book somewhat reminded me of Anthony and Kate’s story, when he was obsessed with the idea he would die young, and that took over his life. Except that obsession was more understandable than Miranda’s hang-up in this book.
“The Mirador” by Sarah Monette (dark fantasy): Third book in Ms Monette’s Labyrinth series, this book sees Felix and Mildmay back in the Mirador. It’s been awhile since the events of the second book ”The Virtu”, and well, nothing much has changed. Mildmay still hates the Mirador, Felix is still struggling with his inner demons, everyone is still stepping gingerly around Felix… you get the idea. In this book, a new first-person POV is introduced, Mehitabel, and through her, we get to know a couple of other secondary characters a bit better.
I was halfway through and still waiting for something to happen, when it hit me – this was it. “The Mirador” is different from the first two books in the sense it focuses more on political intrigue and plotting, rather than action-packed scenes. While slow-moving, it’s still immensely readable.
What started to frustrate me was all the third-party descriptions of arguments between Felix and Mildmay/Gideon/anyone else - you know, when Mildmay thinks back to an argument the night before. Sure, it’s first-person and Mildmay can’t hear, say, Felix and Gideon arguing mind-to-mind, but at some point I was wondering if it was a cop-out on Ms Monette’s part. Is leaving Felix’s cruelty to the reader’s imagination more effective than putting the dialogue down on paper? Towards the end, it does change – there is a particularly effective passage between Felix and Mildmay on trust. And I wish there had been more of that.
And then I was really trying to figure out why the hell does Mildmay behave the way he does with Felix. What’s the draw? Was I missing something horribly obvious? Their relationship didn’t seem to be developing – they kept repeating their long-established patterns, and it made me want to shout “Enough already!”. And then Mildmay has a moment of self-realisation and again, towards the end, it all picked up and I felt like cheering.
It all comes together at the end (that’s the third time I’ve used the phrase, so I think you get the idea) and everything’s set up nicely for the final book. I do like tortured heroes, and hey, you get two in this book, so well, it works. This isn’t for new readers to the series – heck, I was getting confused, and I’ve read the first two – but I’m still glad I read this one.
Two very different books, but both rate a B- for me.