Julia Quinn's Regency romances all have a very particular flavor; this author excels in writing dialogue between characters, usually witty and snappy, and her main characters are often intelligent people who are matches for each other.
The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever follows this pattern. Miranda Cheever first falls in love with Lord Turner, the eldest brother of her best friend, when she is ten. He's nine years older than her and is just helping out his sister Olivia's friend by escorting her home and giving her a little pep talk. Olivia is clearly going to be beautiful when she grows up; Miranda is rather more plain and gangly, so Turner says a few nice words to her - and she promptly falls in love.
The story moves on nine years to the funeral of Turner's wife. Leticia turned out to be an awful woman, and Turner is relieved at her death. He vows not to marry again and has become rather hard and cold. Unfortunately for him, with Miranda running tame about his parents' house, they meet up on many occasions, and he finds himself rather drawn to her. When Miranda and Turner find themselves in an awkward situation, they have to try to build an adult relationship out of what was a childhood infatuation.
It's in this part of the book that I felt the author was less successful. As in so many romances published today, the central point of the plot is that the hero can't say "I love you" even if his actions show that he does.
Resolution of the book only comes when the man realizes his mistake and verbalizes the words. I find all this rather difficult to believe in a Regency setting, particularly in a society when marriages often were for social position rather than love and this would be considered the norm for most people. As usual in Julia Quinn's books the historical setting is rather vague. Her characters speak with modern concepts and constructs, if sometimes in Regency language.
They use American rather than English word forms in many cases, and their behavior isn't accurate for the period in many cases.
Still, it's an enjoyable read with a rather touching scene at the end when Miranda has a child and Turner is a pleasant enough, if sometimes a little vague, hero. The original avuncular relationship between him and Miranda still seems partly in place, and Miranda's vacillating feelings, although understandable, are sometimes annoying. This book
remains, however, a great deal better than a lot of the Regencies out there because of the spirited heroine, pleasant hero and good cast of supporting characters.