Size Doesn’t Matter (206): The Secret Keeper; Kiss the Bride

Size Doesn’t Matter (206): The Secret Keeper; Kiss the BrideThe Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Published by Pan on May 9, 2013
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 602
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.

Dorothy’s story takes the reader from pre–WWII England through the blitz, to the ’60s and beyond. It is the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined. The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected consequences they sometimes bring. It is an unforgettable story of lovers and friends, deception and passion that is told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world.

Kate Morton has been on my reading list for ages, and dear friends love her books. I thought for sure this would be a slam dunk for me, but unfortunately this is one of those books where it’s absolutely not the right book for me, despite its many good qualities. Sorry, The Secret Keeper, it wasn’t you.

There are a couple of clear reasons why I struggled so much with The Secret Keeper: I didn’t emotionally connect with any of the characters, the book is really long, and the pace is slow. That said, I do completely get why friends of mine have loved this book. The plot’s an intricate web that comes together nicely, and it’s very much an atypical WWII story.  The twists and turns are managed very effectively. This isn’t a case where I wonder if I read a different book from my friends, because I absolutely get what people see in this book.

But lbr we all know that I am largely a reader who is all about dem ships, and an almost 600-page family saga with no romance (there are relationships, but I’d argue they’re not written to be romances) is waaaaaaaay too much for me. Basically all of the characters in the book are dead or dying in the modern timeline, and even Laurel’s in her sixties at that point. I like my historical with a heavy dose of romance in general, but this is a family saga/mystery, and as per usual mysteries for their own sake don’t interest me much. The psychological component I did like, but that only comes in later.

The writing style is interesting, sometimes more of a third person omniscient but sometimes more of a third person limited. Sometimes it worked for me, and sometimes it didn’t. On the whole, though I thought the story was cool enough to push on, I spent most of the book a little bit bored. The ending did make it worth it, but only barely.

Based solely off this novel, I sort of doubt Kate Morton’s books are for me. Unless you guys have any recs for titles that might have a bit more romance or action?

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

Size Doesn’t Matter (206): The Secret Keeper; Kiss the BrideKiss the Bride by Patricia Cabot
Published by Pocket Books on April 30, 2002
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 344
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

One lucky man would win her hand...
A lady of London breeding, Emma Van Court never expected to be left widowed — and penniless — in the Scottish village of Faires. But when a fortune is promised if she remarries, the pretty schoolteacher finds Faires' motley assortment of eligible men scrambling for her attentions — from the local cowherd to an obnoxious baron!

One sweet kiss would seal their love...

James Marbury, Earl of Denham, was urbane, sophisticated....and utterly at odds among the muddy roads and thatched roofs of Faires. He had come after hearing of his cousin Stuart's passing — and was exasperated to find his maddening, tempestuous love for the widowed Emma was as strong as ever. With bachelors coming out of the woodwork to woo her, James sees only one solution: offer himself to her as a temporary husband...even if secretly he longs to make his "I do's" last a lifetime.

Well, I’ve finally hit the end of the Patricia Cabot era of Meg Cabot’s career. It’s been a journey of low lows and somewhat tepid highs. Kiss the Bride is the second best of them in my opinion, but it’s not particularly shippy and the quality otherwise isn’t sufficient to raise it any higher than pretty good.

Kiss the Bride has a cute premise, but it doesn’t deliver on the shippy feels. Emma Van Court married James’ cousin Stuart, a young curate. Stuart caught her eye with his intense passion for helping the poor and his devotion to his religion. Unfortunately, he wasn’t as passionate and devoted to Emma. Six months into their relationship, he died unexpectedly, leaving Emma a young widow.

Six months have passed since Stuart’s death, a year since Emma and Stuart eloped to Scotland against the wishes of both families. Emma’s now being pursued by most of the single men in town, because she has a mysterious dowry should she wed again. James shows up in town to transport the body of his cousin back home, having only just learned of his passing and not expecting Emma to still be in residence.

There are a number of delightful comic scenes in this set up, especially the ones involving animals, and this could have been a sheer delight. Unfortunately, Emma and James, while fine, don’t make a fabulous ship. James was into her before the book ever began, before the married Stuart. Emma’s feelings mostly seem to stem from her horniness and the fact that he ended up falling face-first in her lap during a bouncy carriage ride. While I like horny heroines, I’d like to see a bit more of an actual connection between these two. Also, the blurb and cover make it seem like this is a book where they’ll spend most of their time married, but actually the wedding takes place a good way into the book. It’s more about the hijinks than the ship.

The Patricia Cabot project hasn’t been the most successful. The only one I really recommend is Educating Caroline, though Kiss the Bride would be the only other I’d be willing to in any way promote. The others, even the ones I enjoyed in a crack way, I really couldn’t push on anyone in good conscience (unless that’s what they want).

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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