Miss Miranda Cheever, daughter of an absent-minded baronet, has loved her best friend's older brother since she was ten years old. Now she is nineteen, and he is recently widowed. As Miranda's father tends to forget that she even exists (she is not some dusty Greek tome he can translate), she has practically been raised alongside her best friend, Lady Olivia Bevelstoke (heroine of Julia Quinn's What Happens in London - a delightful book). That the Viscount Turner therefore sees her more as a sister than as a potential love interest seems nearly inevitable.
Nigel Bevelstoke, Viscount Turner, does not mourn his recently deceased wife. She died when riding to meet her lover, pregnant with another man's child. Turner married when he was young (20) and optimistic, and has had all his illusions about love shattered. He is angry and bitter and determined never to marry again, no matter how vexing his mother may find this idea. But when his sister decides that it would be a brilliant idea for Miranda to marry their brother, so she and Miranda can always be sisters, he finds himself very upset by the idea.
I really love most of Julia Quinn's books, and had actually avoided The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever for a long time, as I know a lot of her fans are not too fond of it. I have now discovered why. While many of Julia Quinn's books feature spirited and sensible heroines and really attractive and intelligent heroes, amazingly witty and sparkling dialogues and really satisfying romances - this book, while still quite sweet, had too many things that annoyed me.
First of all, I can accept that Turner had trouble with trusting women because his first wife was an unfaithful beeyatch, but suddenly kissing your sister's best friend just because you're drunk and upset, and she's there - not cool. He seems to get carried away and jumping her multiple times, and swears he will avoid her in future, just to end up seducing her at a house party, shortly after she has blurted out that she has loved him for a decade. They end up getting married, and while he soon discovers that he didn't really hate marriage - just marriage to his former shrew of a viscountess. This doesn't mean that he can actually tell his pretty awesome wife that he loves her. Not until she nearly dies at the end is he able to get over his broody hangups to realize that he doesn't want to lose her.
Miranda is a pretty likable heroine, but can be annoying too. I get that she loved Turner, but letting herself get seduced and knocked up was not what such a supposedly sensible and pragmatic heroine would do. Especially after she has commented negatively on the judgment of another acquaintance who had to get married after getting seduced. She then decides that since Turner clearly doesn't love her, she does not want to marry him, and conveniently miscarries the baby she's carrying. She seems completely unfazed by losing a baby, even though it is explained that her mother had a history of miscarrying and that's the reason Miranda is an only child. When she ends up marrying Turner after all, I do understand her frustration that he is completely unable to appreciate what he has, and the fact that he can't get over his first wife's faithlessness.
Turner's callousness was definitely the biggest problem for me. After he seduces Miranda, he goes away to visit a friend, and stays away for six weeks, without sending her so much as a note. Miranda has to deal with realizing she's pregnant and try to figure out how to avoid a scandal all on her own. I never really understood why in the world he was worthy of being loved by Miranda for so long, and though she could probably have done better married to the younger brother, who also seemed taken with her. Turner is clearly the worst hero Julia Quinn has created, and since I love so many of her other books, and they usually never fail to entertain me, the disappointment of this book, even having lowered my expectations due to the varying reviews, was all the greater. I'm hoping that Ten Things I Love About You, which is out in a few days' time is more up to her usual quality.